02 March 2021

Their Smiles Are Worth All My Efforts

By Jyoti Kamra

A few years ago, I had a student in 2nd grade- let’s call her Richa- who suddenly started behaving very violently. She would get in fights during playtime, hit her friends without provocation, and even tear the pages of her textbooks in the middle of the class. All in all, a very troubling pattern. In just a few months she went from being a diligent student to one struggling to keep up with the rest of the class. 

After speaking to some of her classmates, I found out that Richa had just lost her mother and was now living with her aunt.

When I tried to speak to Richa, she clammed up- only saying, “No one loves me at home.” I was heartbroken. I felt helpless in front of this unfathomable sorrow, but I resolved to do my best to help her. 

Throughout the next few weeks, I kept trying to ease her out of her shell. Stopping her wanton unruliness was the first step and I did this through short after-school counseling sessions. I realized that all Richa really wanted was to make friends, so I started organizing class activities in groups so that she could interact more freely with her classmates. Over the next few weeks, I appreciated her in front of the class, whenever she submitted her work on time or participated in discussions, to reinforce positive behavior. I gently nudged her to participate in school events, even nominating her for some inter-class competitions. 

Slowly but steadily, I could see the difference in her. Richa started laughing again. 

Today, two years later, Richa is a strong performer in grade 4 in the same school. I still speak to her almost every day. Over the years, her positive change has inspired me to help those who were struggling due to familial and financial strain. As schools are closed, I sometimes help children with recharging their mobile phones so that they can attend virtual classes and continue to learn. I also connect with children who don’t have smartphones, over the phone and send them books from the school library.

Recently, I had helped one of the students take part in the state-wide Bal Mahotsav and he ranked 2nd in the entire district. We teachers live for such moments. 

The last 8 months have not been easy, and I sometimes miss the ability to connect with children face to face. I miss seeing the infectious smiles and enthusiasm to learn. 

Their innocent joy and eagerness to learn is why I became a teacher almost 20 years ago, and this has kept me going even in COVID times. Although we do not meet physically very often, I keep my children engaged through DIY activities and also visit a few of them at home, to help them with problem areas. It’s a blessing to be able to see them, and I am glad schools are opening soon so I can continue to touch and improve the lives of my students to the best of my abilities. 

(The writer is a teacher with GPS Kohand, Gharaunda, Karnal. Views expressed are her personal. The name of the child has been changed to protect her identity.)