Totems

Written on May 4, 2011 after a rigourous day at Institute

Today was day 1 of hardcore, serious teaching stuff. Goals, measures, benchmarks, standards, curriculum undestanding and so on. Sometimes it was easy to lose myself to believing I was in business school again but then a sudden image of a child landed me with a thud!

I read a lot of concepts today which I read between 2006-2008, applied between 2008-2010. But, this time I did it with the realisation of having 40 expectant eyes on me and 40 minds to be shaped. 

It was a long day. I liked it. It was loaded but it was what I wanted. It was what I wanted to hear and be told. I finally felt like I am now being given artillery to equip myself to handle the onslaught (i sense the irony of using guerilla or warfare talk to describe education and children. note to self: think less violent)

By the end of the day I was tired but in a good way. I like the feeling of that slight pain in the shoulders and arms which tells you have worked and done something with your day. 

Today evening I finally was initiated into the teaching commune with the three totems – a red pen, a piece of chalk and a shiny golden star sticker. All three took me back to my childhood.

Red pen – a teacher’s sword. Never could a student ever ever write with a red pen. And over those pencil written answers wooooosh went the pen, scratched it all out hoping to wipe it out of my head while strangely leaving grraffti’esque’ marks on my notebook. Did you have a teacher who brandished the red pen so hard on every page of your notebook that it left imprints on other new pages on which you hadn’t written yet? Imprints that you could see when you hold up the notebook in a particular way against the sun? I did. I did not like it. I liked my notebook pages to be new. I liked starting every answer on a new page (without marks). 
In class 2, I had a classwork notebook and a homework notebook. I once used a red pen to colour the apples of my addition exercise in my homework notebook (authenticity clearly was important to me). I had to re-do my homework because my teacher said I could not use red pen in my homework notebook and the only person who is allowed to use a red pen is she alone.

Chalk – when I was 4 or 5 I used to eat the chalk my mother gave me to write on the slate. I used to eat the chalk and ask for more to write. When my mother refused, I used to tearfully ask her how can I write without a chalk and if I didn’t write how could I EVER grow. My mother really wouldn’t know what to do. Yes, I was a canniving shrewd vixen (I was going to use another animal of the female gender but then I am currently working on my ability to control my language). In my defense, once I was done with eating chalk, I did write on the slate. When I was 5th grade, I used to steal chalk from school. I had stopped eating chalk by then but those blunt, nearly spherical pieces of chalk that the teacher couldn’t use and throw away I used to collect. We were not allowed to take chalk from school.  

Golden Star Sticker- There was only one teacher who actually carried instantaneous rewards for us (tangible not random extra 3 marks over and above a 100 mark exam). That was my English teacher. She used to take regular class but at the end she would check our library card and give us a star everytime we finished writing a summary of the book we had read. Depending on the number of books we read and wrote about we would get a star sticker or stamp. I was a sucker for any form of recognition or appreciation then so I started  pulling out more books from the library. I never really realised when the stars stopped coming – i found my love for books. 

I do not know if I am anymore ready to teach than I was before these totems. But I do know that I feel like I found the phonebooth where I can change into my spandex and cape. It is to be seen if I can fly….

 

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