TODAY is World Teachers Day. So here is a heartwarming anecdote for teachers: “Be a mum first at school, then a teacher.”
There was a WhatsApp video clip a few years ago that shared the above sentiments. It was related by a man who spoke simply and superbly on the virtues of a being a mum first, and then a teacher.
There was a teacher named Mrs Thomson who entered class every day and wished the children with the greeting, “Love you all”.
But deep down, she knew she was lying, because she could not feel love for one child. She could not bring herself to love one child in the class, named Teddy, who was untidy, unkempt and poor. She was indifferent to the child and picked on him for everything negative and wrong in the class.
It was the practice in the school for the class teacher to write a progress report for the first half of the year and it was the system in the school that the headteacher had to counter-sign the progress report written by the class teacher.
After reading the progress report for Teddy, the headteacher called the class teacher and told her that a progress report should show some progress, but the progress report written for Teddy was poor and showed that he had no future and that the child’s parents would give up hope on Teddy.
The class teacher said that she had nothing positive to write about Teddy. The headteacher then sent Teddy’s previous years’ progress reports to the class teacher.
After reading the previous years’ progress reports by other teachers, the class teacher was shocked to discover that Teddy was a bright and intelligent child in the class.
As she read the progress reports, she discovered that Teddy was losing interest in his studies after his mother fell sick.
In the 5th Standard progress report, the teacher had written that Teddy lost his mother to terminal cancer, and together with that, he lost himself.
With tears in her eyes, she went back to the class the next day and, as usual, started her day with the greeting “Love you all”.
She knew was lying, because this time the love she was feeling for Teddy was far greater than that for the rest of the class. She decided to change herself and look at Teddy with a positive spirit and love.
Teddy was given special attention and coaching in his studies. On the last day of class, the children brought special gifts for the class teacher and there, among the beautifully-wrapped gifts, was a crumpled newspaper-wrapped gift.
The class teacher opened the newspaper-wrapped gift first, knowing that it must have been from Teddy.
There was a half-filled perfume bottle and a bracelet that had a few gemstones missing. The class laughed at the gift from Teddy, but the class teacher took the perfume bottle and sprayed it on herself and wore the bracelet.
He felt proud and said: “Now you smell like my mother.” Teddy said it was the last perfume that his mother used before she died and the bracelet was taken from her body before she was put in the coffin.
Every year after that, even though she was no more teaching him, Teddy would send her a “thank you” note, saying that though he had seen many teachers, she was the best.
Many years later, after they had lost contact and the class teacher had retired, she received a letter from Teddy.
In the letter, Teddy said he was now a doctor and that she was the best class teacher and there was an invitation to his wedding.
Though the perfume was no more, she still had the bracelet. So she wore it and went to the church wedding.
As the teacher was looking for a seat in the last row in the church, two ushers came and took her to the front of the church and made her sit on the seat labelled “Mother”.
Teddy told the teacher that she was the closest to he had to a mother, and whatever he was today was because of her. Teddy told his wife that he would have been nobody without the teacher’s love and concern.
The teacher said to the wife that without Teddy, she would not have realised that a teacher had to be a mother first, before being a teacher.
There is a Teddy sitting in every classroom and every teacher should shower love, care and concern on children.
We have children who have lost parents, have only single parents, are latchkey children, or are abused and neglected children in our classrooms, and unless we can touch them with love and care, we will lose them forever.
The school is a building with classrooms and the classroom is a building with four walls with the future in it.
We need teachers to touch hearts, teach minds and transform lives, if we want to achieve a developed nation status
Samuel Yesuiah, Seremban, Negri Sembilan NST Home News Opinion You Write 05 October 2015
Unsung heroes who push students to reach for the stars
SINCE 1994, Oct 5 has been observed as World Teachers Day by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation.
The day is celebrated in appreciation of teachers’ contribution to the teaching profession. Teachers are unsung heroes who have helped produce individuals who are specialists in economics, education, science and technology.
The economists, professors, inventors, scientists and leaders, whose talent and potential have been discovered by teachers, have made the world proud of their achievements.
Their lives have become an inspiration to others, thanks to passionate teachers who have reminded them that every ambition and goal is achievable as long as they work hard and smart.
Education has always been an issue that arouses public interest, from amendments in the education policy, achievement of students in examinations and the shortage of teachers, to the disciplinary cases of students and poor work ethic among teachers.
When an issue is raised, teachers will be in the limelight and their professionalism will be doubted. Others may lose their faith and respect of this noble profession.
It is a challenge for teachers to be the ripe fruit, instead of rotten apples in the basket, not only to avoid fingers being pointed at them when problems arise, but also to main- tain the nobility and quality of teaching.
To compete globally and create a world-class education system, it is important for educators to stop being ordinary teachers with traditional pedagogies and typical mindsets about students’ ability — scorers are champions, and failures, losers. These are irrelevant and inapplicable to learners.
Teachers should apply revolutionary methods and help learners see beyond the four walls of the classroom, so that students can widen and exchange perspectives.
Generation Y learners need teachers who are energetic, optimistic, empathetic, daring, caring and inspiring to make learning an educational, entertaining and exuberant experience.
Films about teachers — such as Dead Poets Society, Educating Rita, Freedom Writers, Taare Zameen Par, and Teacher’s Diary — depict extraordinary people who struggle to make a difference while dealing with problematic students, educational issues, and parental perceptions and expectations. The films also show the circumstances that teachers face in their career.
In fact, some experience a harder path that pushes them to the limit, testing their mental and emotional strength.
To be a great and exceptional teacher who is appreciated and respected by students is an achievement, satisfaction and blessing. In his best-selling novel, Tuesdays With Morrie, Mitch Albom wrote about the beautiful relationship between a teacher and a student, and their sharing sessions that taught the latter valuable and essential lessons in life.
The book should inspire teachers to build a rapport with their students and educate them to be lifelong learners. In the 21st century, teachers need to take teaching to the next level and create a new learning environment.
Traditionally, students initiate a greeting to show respect, but teachers can first greet students, to show friendliness.
In the past, discussions between teachers and students happened through only face-to-face conversations in schools.
Today, teachers may try a fun, trendy and effective approach by creating a group discussion on Facebook and WhatsApp.
This will bridge the gap between teachers and students, strengthen their camaraderie, and allow the involvement of teachers in the students’ learning process anytime and anywhere. Happy World Teachers Day.
Muhamad Solahudin Ramli, Marang, Terengganu NST Home Opinion You Write 05 October 2015