It was 2nd February, the last day for the last round of TFI 2018 cohort registrations that I decided to leave Australia, move back to Mumbai and become a part of this movement. I could not wait to begin inspiring the minds of young people and bringing change to the education system I strongly believed was doing no good. I believed I had the skills, values, and mindsets to be the leader my kids needed all through the 5 weeks of the institute, ready to teach middle school, as I was trained to do.
Until... I was placed in Grade 3 in a first-year intervention classroom with 56 highly energetic 10 years olds. Persistent to not give up, I told myself, “It only gets better now”. Until... I realised all of my kids could barely recognise the alphabets in Grade 3, let alone read. Persistent to not give up, I told myself, “It only gets better now”. Until... my co-fellow was transferred to another school and I had to start teaching all subjects alone. Persistent to not give up, I told myself, “It only gets better now”. Today, almost at the end of my fellowship, as I look back at my journey, the challenges never stopped coming.
From low academic grades to violence, to bullying, to sexual abuse, to every problem I could imagine facing in 24 months, I did it. I survived. And it did get better. So here’s my version of “How to survive as a teacher 101” -
1. Surround yourself with the most beautiful set of kids who never give up on you irrespective of how many times you feel inadequate to teach them. They always show up with hugs and handmade cards!
2. Be ready to be amazed by the resilience your children show at their age. Their understanding of love, loyalty, and respect might be different than yours, but they teach you how to smile through the toughest days and love with every bit of your heart.
3. If you don’t think you are the most intelligent and beautiful human in the world, get ready because your kids will validate you like no-one else. They notice everything you do and cannot wait to be like you (which is a lot of pressure) but also helps you become the best version of yourself.
4. You won’t get enough sleep or have a social life. But every time a kid says “Excuse me, please” instead of pushing, shares their tiffins with another kid without food, willingly does their homework, and stands up for their friends instead of complaining - it’ll be worth everything you’ve sacrificed.
96 more points of everything your children will teach you every day.. and the realizations of how your time as a teacher will shape the individual you become.
101. On the days when you are too tired to enter class, or when nothing makes sense - surround yourself with an incredible school team of the kindest humans. They will become your closest friends who will make you laugh, always have your back, never get tired of those “guess, what happened in class” stories and inspire you to keep showing up no matter what.