When I was asked to be a member of an Inspection Team and observe teachers’ performance in a nearby school, I willingly agreed to do so. On the second day of supervision when I was given a list of the classes I had to supervise, I was taken aback for I had to go to standard two and three! For the last few years I have been training executives and post graduates, so with much trepidation I proceeded to Class Two.
A smart young girl dressed meticulously in a sari, her hair tied neatly, the image of a perfect teacher, welcomed me into the class. She handed me the lesson plan and proceeded to teach. It was an English grammar lesson. Lucidly and logically she introduced the topic for the day-verbs- and through various activities introduced the concept of “verbs” as action words.
Now it was the turn of the students to make sentences with words that show action. “Sita sings” said one. “Sita runs” said another. “Sita Jumps, Sita cooks” it went on. At this rate, I thought to myself that Sita is going to be pretty exhausted! Just then, probably sensing what I was thinking, the teacher shouted, “Enough of Sita. Now talk of someone else”.
“A dog barks”, said one smart boy.
“Very good!” said the teacher. “So what is the verb here?”
“Barking dog” said the boy.
I was having a real tough time stopping myself from laughing.“No, it is bark” said the teacher with a straight face.
In class three, the teacher was narrating a story of a lonely widow Lakshmi, who created two images with mud in different colours so that she could celebrate Diwali in their company. This class had a dignified senior teacher with a no nonsense expression. She talked about the festivals, read out the story and explained the new words with appropriate aids. Many of the students could not resist the temptation of looking at me, smiling at me and wondering what I was doing in their class.
Now it was time to ask some questions on the story. “Whom do we call a widow?” asked the teacher. “Lakshmi” said one. “Lonely woman” said another. “Add ‘N’ to it and it will be a window, ma’m!” said the class wit. A much better word to discuss than a widow, I thought to myself. Lesson completed, my work done, I got ready to go the next class. As I was about to leave, a boy from the back bench came forward and giving me a folded piece of paper, said,” Ma’m, I have written a poem for you.
“When did you write this?” I wanted to ask, but his disarming smile stopped me from saying anything except, ‘thank you’. With two formidable senior teacher present in the class, he had managed to write a poem unnoticed.
Third period, class two supervision again. The lesson was all about wings, which was introduced through an interesting story of a donkey who thought he could fly with the help of artificial wings. This teacher seemed to be an expert actor; she dramatized every event and character to the wide eyed wonder struck students. Some of the students wanted to see the impact of their teacher’s performance on me, so they kept turning back and looking at me, specially the one seated next to me, a cute little fellow with big black eyes. “Do you know I got hurt this morning?” he said in a conspiratorial whisper, showing a small bruise on his leg. I gave him a sympathetic nod and quickly turned my attention to the teacher, who was now demonstrating the flight of birds. ‘You have birds here that need no wings for their flights of fancy, dear’ I said to myself.
The story over, it was time to find out what the students had learnt. The teacher asked a question and many hands shot up. She pointed to a girl who stood up hesitantly and did not answer. “Don’t you know the answer?” asked the teacher in a surprised tone. “But I didn’t raise my hand Ma’m” she said. ‘Yes, teacher’ I thought, ‘how can you be so unfair. Why not ask the ones who eagerly raised their hands’.
So it went on. I never thought supervision could be such fun. What a wonderful age! Such enthusiasm, such original thinking! As for the teachers what imagination, and such dedication! The next morning I found a small piece of paper tucked away in my hand bag. I opened it. On it in a neat handwriting was a poem.
I like one poem that poem I will write for you Ma’m.
I am writing a letter
To send by post
It is for the person I care for the most
I write the date clearly and put the address
And begin “Dearest teacher,
(And did anyone guess?)
My pen travelled slowly
All down the long sheet,
Because I am so anxious to keep it all neat
I turned the page over
And on it goes…..
Here the poem ended.
The bell must have rung, I guess.