There is nothing more amazing than teaching little kids how to break and make things and use trash to make something look beautiful. Teaching Craft at St.Theresa’s High School, Bandra was the most amazing experience. I taught from Grade I to IV i.e. ages 5 yrs to 10 yrs. It is entirely a boys’ school, so when it came to getting them interested and excited for craft, it was a task. But I had an advantage of being young. I could think like them and be a little more playful and fun than being a really strict-to the point teacher. There were four divisions of each grade i.e. sixteen classes in total. Each class consisted of 57-60 students. That rounds up to 940 students roughly. I taught that many kids. I knew that many kids. I loved each of them though I could not recollect all their names till date. But yes, I knew quite a lot of them. The naughty ones were always easier to remember because they had to be called out to every minute during the class. These boys were just fabulous learners, excluding those few lost ones. But not everyone can do Craft. I understood that. I have to mention, their parents, they have some amazing talent. When the projects needed decoration, the parents really worked hard on it and made it look out of the world. I got to learn so many ways of turning something into a pretty thing.
Being an eighteen year old teenager and working full fledge was huge! The sudden shift from being a student to a teacher was ‘WOAH’. With being on the other side of the classroom, came along responsibilities, duties, courage and a lot of patience. The ‘KEY’ to a kid’s heart is patience and love [and gifts and chocolates]. You cannot expect all the children to be the same. You have to have an understanding about the fact that all kids have different issues and you have to deal with each one differently. It was not easy giving them personal attention as there were too many kids in each class. But I did give a little more attention to the really weak and disinterested ones. I had to woo them over with words and little applauds for their work. I also gave the 1st grade kids colour boxes for completing their book neatly and the entire class would applaud them. They were really happy about that part and that urged the rest to do better and complete their books.
I got to sit in the staffroom. Got tea every evening although, I didn’t ever even have a sip. [I am not a tea drinker]. The teachers would treat us all on their birthdays. The year I was teaching almost 4 teachers got married and two left so they treated us for that too. It felt so cool. [Who doesn’t like free food?] I was invited to all the parties which are just for teachers. All that attention and importance was something way too awesome for me. There were formal talks and formal parties. I did feel out-of-place though till the very end because I was the youngest among all. I tried hard to get along with them but they were too caught up with their groups. Luckily, I wasn’t completely alone. I had three other teachers who were always giving me company and we had a blast at all the parties, functions, diamond jubilee fete and the staff picnic. We didn’t care much about the whole, ‘what will our colleagues say’, we enjoyed ourselves. On one on one basis all teachers were very helpful and understanding too. The School’s Principal was the best boss I could ever have. Your first job and you get an awesome and understanding boss, what else does one want? He is a Priest and an amazing and funny person. He always helped me out when I had any difficulties regarding work. He always appreciated my work and talent and that always encouraged me to give in better to the students and the school.
Since I was a teacher now, there was a higher level that I had reached. Children, parents and co-workers had respect for me. It was such a nice feeling being called Tr.Zainab. I liked that little extension to my name. No one called you just by your name. However, at the start of the year I didn’t give out my name to any class. So the students would refer to me as ‘Craft Teacher’. In a way that was a smart step because when they would see me in the corridors or during the snacks break they would call out to me with excitement. I felt like a celebrity among them. My one ‘Hi’ would set a wide smile on their face. It all felt so good. Even when school would leave they would call out from their buses and rickshaws. On teachers day and women’s day too they made me feel so special! I have never received that much attention or love.
During this entire teaching year I also got other opportunities and experiences. It all came like a package. I got to judge an inter-school art and craft competition held in the school itself. I also judged many other school competitions like the Fancy Dress Competition, Class Competitions, Elocution, Quiz Competition and so on. I helped with backdrops and Card making for various occasions. That year we were celebrating the School’s Diamond Jubilee so I got to help with events and ticketing. I also held a craft exhibition at the end of the year which displayed all my students craft work. It’s not easy working under people and especially when you are the youngest. Worst case scenario no one really tells you exactly what to do, it’s part of the job to figure it out yourself. But with God’s grace I never disappointed them. I am a quick learner, so it was a little easier for me.
In class in the beginning it was difficult to handle 60 students and make sure that they all are ears. With boys it gets really challenging. Gradually I did win their hearts and they would be eager for craft class. I introduced new books for Grade I & II whereas Grade III & IV got other creative projects to do. It was a task when it came to correction as they wouldn’t just bring their craft work to school. I was ultimately forced to mark them nil. Correction of papers was the thing I dreaded the most. Single handed correcting 940 papers, tallying their marks, grading them and then submitting the mark sheets to the class teacher, it was a terror. During the end of each semester we would get free time so I would play with them some interactive games or let them watch cartoons or an animated movie on the Smart Board. That was the only time all were equally interested.
Here is a video I put together of my students 🙂
This entire year of teaching craft to all these students was a fabulous experience. I have some beautiful memories with the students and school which can never be erased. I will surely visit my students once in a while in school. I know they will miss me this year but life’s all about moving up and being better than what you can be. So you have to let go to do something better. Teaching was never what I wanted to do. My goals are way different but related to the creative field. But since I really love kids, I love Craft, I loved my job. If my day started off on a bad note I knew I had beautiful faces to cheer me up by afternoon. The Academic Year of 2012-2013 was worth all the compromises I made for work. I would give special thanks to my Parents and Close Friends who supported me all throughout the year. They understood and adjusted. I am really grateful to all of them.