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Sent on 28/6/2008

On editor edzine

"Education should be considered not as moulding of perfectly plastic substances, nor as

filling of empty minds, nor as creation of powers, but rather as the provision of opportunity
for healthy bodily and mental life."

“I am only one. But still, I am one. I cannot do every thing, but still I can do something, and
because I cannot do every thing, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”

I was an amateur when I entered the field of teaching. I had lots of questions in my mind
and was confused whether the students would acknowledge me or not? Or whether I am
creative enough to introduce newer and effective ways of teaching? I stayed in denial for a
couple of months and did not accept criticism, thinking of myself as the best! But it took me
some time to realize that without reflecting on my teaching practices, I can never improve.
As time passed, I started reflecting upon my way of teaching. This transformation process
helped me discover a reflective teacher within myself.

During eight years of secular and religious teaching, I came across a number of challenges
that served to be handy evaluation tools for my personal analyses and further enabled me
to grow.

Therefore, I share with you the story of two students, whose life changed because of my

little effort.

On my first day, teaching first graders at the Religious Centre, I came across a child whom

I identified to be a distraction for the class. While I taught, he distracted his fellow

classmates by using his book to pat others. When I asked him questions, he was blank;

which indicated that he wasn’t paying attention to me. For few days, I avoid him to spare

myself handful amount of stress. But, the more I avoided him, the more he misbehaved. I

decided to talk to person in charge in the Centre and called his parents. It was then when I

learned that he was a slow learner, I felt bad for the poor lad and ashamed of myself for

ignoring him. That specific moment was a turnaround for me.

I then decided to do a little research and learn more about the lad’s problem. I read books

and prepared different activities and lessons so that I could aid him grasp quickly. I also

gave him extra time using activity based methods of teaching. By the end of the year, he

was able to learn a number of things and was doing quite well but not well enough to be

promoted to the next grade. The head of the Centre decided to fail him. But I took a stance

and suggested that the boy should be promoted to the next grade, this way we all could

contribute in motivating him. After spending more than a year in second grade, the boy

was then promoted to the third grade; where I was his teacher again. His mother was

advised by the Head to send him to a Special School. I denied the notion and conducted his

“Adaptive Behavior Skill” testing, that I had learned during my Master Trainer in special

education, and identified him as a slow learner rather than disabled.

During third grade, I involved him more in class activities. He was allowed to sit where

ever he wanted to and made to learn basic skills. His parents were happy with the efforts I

was putting in and at the end of year it all yielded improvement in the young lad’s

performance. His gradual learning and improvement in behavior was indeed an

achievement. While I taught him, I had observed his interest in graphics, so I talked to his

parents about it.

I made sure that the boy stays in the Religious Centre and kept on using various techniques

to make him learn. I feel it’s important to cater such children, for there are many more like

him who need extra attention and no teacher or institute must ignore them. It is a

combined effort on the part of the teacher and the institute that can bring a difference in

their lives. This is something that would be identified in years to come with more awareness

of children with special needs.

I also dealt with an aggressive student who was quite arrogant. I once gave him a sheet of
paper to draw something and he tore the paper, sternly saying that he wasn’t a kid. I
discouraged his attitude a number of times and even ignored him when he wanted to share
something. There was once when I was teaching the students that no one can become
master of all when he actually claimed to be one. I calmly denied him again. The very next
day, he brought a chair made of old wooden box. I was sure he hadn’t made it. But when
he told me the steps, I was shell-shocked. It was my mistake to have not paid him enough

heed and ignoring him. I should have encouraged him rather than not showing concern. I
realized that if we are to criticize, it should be done constructively. We should appreciate
children to share rather than asking them to stay put all the time.

“Children are like a pot of flowers. If you'll give them proper attention, they'll grow up
properly; but if you'll give them lack of attention or extreme care, they’ll be destroyed.”

Being a reflective teacher, I decided to know the real cause behind his aggressiveness. I met
his parents and learnt that they never spent much time with the child as both were working
individuals. I counseled and told them the reason behind their child aggressiveness. They
realized it.

This time, I tried a tool of encouragement. I asked for friendship from the boy and he was
willing to cooperate. He taught all the students how to make different things. Whenever, he
brought any thing to class that he had made, I appreciated him. Gradually I learned about
his interests in music and painting. Currently, he’s in 7th Grade. His vision is to be a
scientist. Just a little appreciation and parent counseling brought change in him. Today, he
has proved to be a brilliant gem.

I believe that every child can learn and accepting challenges and demonstrating confidence
to bring a change is the sign of a reflective practitioner.

A child may be aggressive to his teacher or to his classmates. Such behavior may be a result

of not receiving enough attention at home. When he is exposed to an environment where

his parents are not present, he behaves like an un-caged bird trying to spread his wings all

the time.1

A.J.UDO-EMA, 1965, An Introduction to Teaching, Longmans Publisher, p.22

I’m happy to call myself a reflective teacher, whose objective is to mould children ethically;
to nurture them; to explore their creativity and to cater children with special needs.

It is a request to all the teachers to reflect back on their teaching practices as well, in order
to bring change in the lives of their students, while improving themselves too.