Almost a year ago, I decided to leave my routine life in the city (Chandigarh) and move to my hometown, Shimla. I wanted to complete my degree in Mass Communication over the next one year, the actual span of my break. Now, it is difficult to station yourself at one place when you have done much legwork throughout your working years. So there I was, restless and looking for work, once again. Months passed and I continued working as a freelance writer and studying.
Soon an opportunity knocked.
A teaching job at an engineering institute close to my house is what I was now looking at. To what I approached, as a part-time job was soon a full-time one. I began teaching Communications and Soft Skills to several streams at the institute. Students were not very fluent in the English language and so my teaching process started from a very basic level. Was it difficult? Yes! But was it an impossible task? Certainly not!
The biggest challenge, however, was interaction—to build a connection with my students. I analyzed that teaching as a profession, requires timely modifications, which eventually reflects in the teaching process. I had to hone the few skills I had and learn more to obtain best results from the students. As a short exercise, I asked the students to keep aside their books for the meanwhile. I asked them each, in all my different classes, to write half a page about themselves. Giving them freedom to write in Hindi or English, I then asked them to read one by one what they had written. Most of them were able to overcome their fear that I could notice. Not a complete win-win situation, there were many who backed out.
Nevertheless, it helped me identify the students and further divide them into groups. This small exercise was to show students that speaking about oneself should be the easiest thing. No matter what language you choose, you should be able to express, is what I told them.
These students had ideas, understood things but were hesitant and through this, I figured my direction; to make them comfortable and get them to express themselves. I continued to show my confidence in the students and soon they were part of class debates, writing essays, reporting, and most importantly, asking questions. The interactivity in my class made me realize, as a teacher, that it was not only the textbook knowledge that needed attention, but students should have an overall development as well.
I worked at the institute for about seven months, and believe you me, I learned as much. I understood how each student is different and requires a certain attention. I made them feel as relaxed as possible so that they could express freely. Even though my duration at the institute was a short one, I was glad that students were reacting to my initiatives. They would ask me for books to read (which made me exceptionally happy), ways to improve reading, writing, speech and so on. In short, they began to realize their shortcomings and were now willing to work towards it.
Teaching and its effectiveness were now clearly visible to me. It wasn’t a big leap but a small step they managed to take by cooperating with me.This by far remains the most satisfying feeling ever and only teaching could have led to it.