By Sujata Pani
The much-awaited BA BEd results were declared. I was pretty excited to have topped the batch. Most friends remarked, “Such a quiet and shy person, yet you prefer to be a teacher?” Back home, I gave the words serious thought – my aptitude and my personality were at considerable variance. With mixed feelings, I did my Post Graduation in English Language and Literature with specialisation in Linguistics and Phonetics. Time's winged chariot hurried on and I was about to take up my maiden job. It was the month of July as I walked with my father to my new destination – a reputed school in a sleepy industrial township. The verdant environs, the rain-bathed canopies of sturdy trees on both sides of the serpentine path, made my mind wander and also wonder at the salubrious charm of the new land that was going to be mine for years to come. The appealing scenery of hills, especially one with twin peaks, led me to the school gates. With sweating palms and pounding heart, I made my appearance at the Principal’s office. He was warm in his approach and clear with his words. I was handed over the class timetable: “Class 11th and 12th!” I was shocked. “Please give class 6th, 7th and 8th instead,” I pleaded. But that was not to be as I had been appointed as PGT (Post Graduate Teacher). It was my first classroom situation, real and challenging. Remembering nervously that first impressions last, I entered Class 11. I was amazed at the smartly turned out lively bunch of students. Their good morning greeting was not so articulate, not so warm and not so spontaneous. After the introductory round, I asked for a text book. The lesson had vocabulary items to be glossed first. The word was ‘envelope’. Like a careful and perfect language teacher, I began with its pronunciation, followed by the meaning and contrasted with the pronunciation and meaning of ‘envelope’.
could sense the unanimous lack of acceptance of whatever I was saying. Even my smile (by now sheepish) was not reciprocated. It culminated in one of the students pulling out a dictionary from the school bag to check the information. She thumbed through the pages aggressively. And then she actually had the nerve to glance around as if to convey that everything was all right. To make matters worse, I droned, “The dictionary is every language learner’s scripture.” Even my friends did their bit to lower my morale with comments such as: “Direct PGT, expectations are high”, “You need to work real hard; “University topper cannot be an effective teacher”; “Prove your worth or quit”, and so on. Back home, I wept, “I am going away from here.” Daddy's counsel that day saw me through all these years. He told me that a patch of dark cloud could not hide the sun. I learnt to take everything and everyone in my stride and grew as a professional. Coupled with this counsel was the confidence reposed in me by the authority. During vacation, I paid a visit to my professor who received me with a beaming smile. My strict sense of perfectionism as a Language Teacher (which had students and colleagues look up questioningly), was toned down by my Professor's mool mantra, “The golden rule of language learning is - accept the speaker.” Almost a decade hence, I have mellowed as the Head of the Department and a teacher accepted and acknowledged. The acme was on August 14, 2013. I received a phone call, “Miss Sujata Pani, please be present tomorrow at the Netaji Stadium to be felicitated with the Best Teacher Award.” Tears of joy rolled down my cheeks as I received the award from the Pro Vice chairman. My parents, Principal, teachers, two of my colleagues and, above all, my students. They have all made me what I am today.
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