DARE I?

I had neither wished to be nor planned to be a teacher but I am one right now.

At many points in life so far, I have had a chance to become someone else, such as a linguist or a musician or maybe even a writer. I am still capable of being all three or any of these three, but had I started ten years ago, I would have been living a life as them or her. However, the tortoise’s shell gave me such comfort that I never peeped outside. Ten years later, I am gathering courage to share these feelings that overwhelmed me this afternoon. Voila, does it seem to those who are in this profession that teaching is still the best profession that it was once thought to be?

First, the best — students love you despite your appearances and they never really care for all the shouting and scolding that they receive on a daily basis. They will smile at you the next day, without fail. Their smiles can alter the course of the day and give you such a sense of being loved and of value that life seems en rose. The reason I explored the profession was the work life balance it boasts of. The vacations and the decisions of the government in times of extreme weather or political situation were my prime motives. We love it but we don’t say it.

A message shared on social media captured the truth – the school buildings have closed, not the school. Eh bien! Voila la vérité. Teachers are working more than ever and harder at that too. Now, because we cannot physically meet one another, there is a trust and a communication deficit. Teachers have Zoom meetings at any hour of the day, and WhatsApp is a call to simply drop everything we are doing and sit back on the laptop. A day is marked by screen, walls of the house and bing of the phone.

A teacher from Gurgaon shared that their salary is deducted and wondered why the schools did not have an emergency fund? A teacher from Dehradun was saddened by school’s claim to return half the salary after the full amount had been credited. Another lamented that they were asked to make lesson plans for July in May.

The trust deficit magnifies in the 21st century. We think it, but we don’t say it.

There is no comparison of online teaching and a classroom teaching. How can there ever be? From the exchange of voices and tones and laughter , trust and warmth is developed. The students engage in art integrated work, and pair or group work. Discipline is maintained because it is visible who wishes to ask a question or give an answer. On Zoom, it is mind boggling when one has a class of 60 students! I am toggling between screens hunting for that one voice that said ‘Ma’am?’. After muting all 60 so that I could explain the topic, its time to get some answers. If I unmute all, I hear ‘Come for breakfast.’ So in between a class of students, parents pop in. 

Today afternoon, I decided to pursue my passions. I wrote this, honestly. I choose to work as a teacher because of the work – life balance and the independence it assures me as a woman.

At last, because we are clueless on our future, we don’t know where we stand even in our present. Consequently, the humans – the strongest, the most capable, the one who conquered the moon and the oceans, the most intelligent beast of all, is lost and shut at home. Worse, with their family members and nowhere to go. It’s cruelly hilarious in a way. But there are always two sides, and I am sure in this cruel humour, there is a way forward too. It is in front of me. Is the tortoise’s shell still comfortable or dare I peep out to achieve my passions?

MEGHA

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