Teacher, A Joy, But...They did it, Not Me!

Renuka Kamath

Author: Renuka Kamath

Date: Sun, 2016-09-04 18:45

I watched her animated face as she spoke her mind. She said ‘I had two offers on campus and only two people in my life advised me to make the tougher choice. You were one of them. I have no idea why I chose the tougher one, but I did! Yes you asked me to make the choice to get into sales and not take the more attractive other offer.’ Honestly as I heard her, I wasn’t sure where this was leading and was wondering if she was going to accuse me of something I had inadvertently done. But then she said ‘It was very very tough. I went through periods of hating my choice. And I did learn and I am a better person today! I’ve learned resilience, a strange discerning ability of people, the ability to negotiate and convince. Thank you for helping me become a stronger person.’ It was easy for me to feel good about this and yes, give myself credit…why not? I did feel a sense of pride in what I was hearing and what she was feeling. She went on, earnestly and said much more. I kept listening, feeling good, watching this rather transformed shy and quiet girl whom I had taught in college.

After she was gone, I stepped back in my mind and thought over our conversation. It was obvious I had credited myself with too much. She had taken that decision, she had had the resilience to go and crack large government deals, and she had sat in those miserable unhelping bureaucratic offices and persuaded bureaucrats! She had the tensile strength to persist on months of unachievable targets for months, before she cracked her first deal and then there was no looking back. She did it, not me!

‘I can’t cope. It is hopeless. Life is hopeless. I am hopeless. I’m no good on this earth,’ he said. I listened anxiously, a feeling of helplessness rising in me. I wanted to stop him and I tried to, but his mind wouldn’t. I couldn’t stop his mind, could I? He continued after a pause ‘I enrolled for an MBA to please my father. I think I also wanted to prove to him that I could make it to a top school. Don’t know if he is still proud of me. But now I don’t want to go on. Everyone here is smarter than me and they know what they want. They are intelligent and they are clear about their future. I am a misfit here. Enough is enough. This is painful for everyone.’ By now I was at the edge of my chair and asked the next best thing that came to my mind (I am a bit quirky that way) ‘Do you have a girl friend?’ He looked at me like I had lost it! He gave me an incredulous look and a funny smile…ah, I thought there is hope. I thought I had hit the truth, till he said ‘My father would kill me if I had one’.

Shoulders slumped I resigned to listening, all the time wondering how he was going to clear his next exam and how he could make-up all those ‘F’s he was seeing in the horizon. Why hadn’t he been able to pursue his other talent (can’t reveal this talent without revealing his identity) for which he had a degree from the best college in London! A talent that would have made him happy and extremely successful. It was tough. My colleague and I kept a close eye on him and his friends in his batch helped out, never leaving him alone. The day he graduated, I received a mail from his father thanking me and the institute for looking after his son and ensuring he ‘survived’ the grueling time he went through. Two years after he graduated, I received a mail from him telling me about how well he was doing. That made me feel really good. But well, think about it, he went through a tough time (we all do at some time or the other), battled odds not against others but himself, is a successful executive, married and settled in a foreign land. He did it, not me!

‘I had a lot of odds before I got here. Too many aspirations and very few resources in my family. Giving up my job hasn’t been welcomed by my family and they don’t understand MBA. Too much rests on my success from here. I don’t have the luxury a few others have of enjoying their time here,’ he said to me solemnly. I’d always tell him to relax and give himself a few minutes of joy for the wins he had during his time on campus and he would with a serious look tell me that there was way too much to be done. I was worried about him, as I marvelled at his persistence and resilience at the number of failures that came his way during his first year. To watch him struggle through the Autumns internship placement was painful. Rejection after rejection is never easy to take. He said he hated the environment…envied his friends. He then decided to take my advice and go for a long walk away from the campus for a breath of fresh air. The beach was the last place I thought he would choose for a walk and my heart was in my mouth when he texted me! But then how little credit we at times give this generation. Today he is doing well, happy and ably supporting his family. We sometimes recall his troubled MBA days and he thanks me for being there. I in turn marvel at his resilience and strength of character. He did it; not me!

There is still ample room for improvement in me; my life. A number of students have touched my life and made me a better person.

They did it, not me!

They are the teachers, not me!


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<p>I am touched by your words, ma'am. It's amazing how little do we think of the things we do or say and the impact it has on our mentors. :)</p>

Teachers are the one who moulds one’s life. Many of the students definitely accept that they can share whatever with teachers than anybody. Because teachers not only gives proper direction but also listens to them, understands them and nurtures them. More than parents, teachers can find where a student lacking and what exactly required to correct that. Also they know very well how to make student to understand their lacuna and take corrective action accordingly. I too experienced during my college days where certain things neither I could share with my parents nor with my best friends circle. But every time I got support and direction from my teachers. They shaped well and also taken care of mine not going in wrong direction. Teacher’s responsibility is not shaping an individual rather the future of this country. Unless students become responsible citizens, how any country develops with integrity? That’s why teachers role is much valuable and respectable. The immense satisfaction a teachers enjoys when any student grabs success, in my opinion no other profession would give.

It is such an inspiring article; I simply can perceive myself in all three incidents. I do not know about the second last line of every story, whether it will suit me or not, but after reading this blog, I get a positive vigor for putting my best effort to achieve the goal of life via journey in SPJIMR. Sometimes your presence and support teach us a lot. Thanks for the opportunity to read such inspiring blog. It is really worth reading.

Hi Ma'am, In today's world where people hardly miss any opportunity to blow one's own trumpet, such a thought is rare. Yes they had the resilience to go through all the hardships. That doesn't take away the support that you provided them, the path that you had suggested them to chose which were difficult but assured success. At that point in life they didn't have the wisdom to decide what was right for them. Your support were invaluable to them. If I may correlate, they were about to take a flight called 'career' as pilots. You were like the navigation system for them. They had faith in you and they are flying safely to towards their destination in life. Just imagine a pilot trying to fly a Boeing 737 visually without a navigation system ! So, to my mind. You Did. They had faith in you and therefore they did. Thanks for this blog. It reminded me the fond memories of lot my teachers right from my school days who made me what I am today.

The first time I was animated while being in a class was in 11th. She calmly walked into our classroom, sat on the table, opened the book and immersed herself in the world of Walt Whitman. O Captain! My Captain! Our fearful trip is done. There was something spectacular about the way she taught. The way in which English transformed itself into an escape from the rigors of science and a race for engineering colleges. This episode is from 2003. Her name is Mrs Amrita Chatterjee and she used to teach poetry in St. Joseph’s College, Allahabad. For the next 2 years, poetry was my favourite subject. Till date it is my favourite subject. My affair with the written word had started a couple of years earlier but she pushed me over the edge. Later on when she realized that I could write a bit, she encouraged me of course and from a tentative writer I ended up as a participant of creative writing in an inter-school competition. Writing remains the only thing I feel confident about. And it is largely because of a teacher. So teachers do play a very important role, mostly in pushing their students over the edge. And I am sure most of your students will testify the same for you.

It was a lovely article Ma'am. It reminded me of my school teacher ! I was an average kid at school .I did not care much about studies and marks didn't matter to me . In fact my teachers would ask me to attend extra classes during free periods, and so I began to hate studies even more. To avoid these extra classes, I began to put extra effort on my homework, anticipating that my teacher will ask me to discontinue from extra classes. My efforts at studies helped me to eventually discontinue the extra classes, and as a side effect, it also fetched me good marks in my class test. I scored a 7 out of 10 and I was happy. Moments later after I saw my test marks, the class teacher called upon my name ,asked me to come forward and face the class .I thought someone found out that It was me who plucked those flowers from the school garden and I was ready for the thrashing. Just then my teacher stepped forward ,rested her hand on my shoulder and told the class that I had topped the test. She praised me continuously for the next 5 minutes in front of the entire class. In that moment, I felt an emotion that changed my life. I transformed from being a person for whom scores didn't matter to a person who would not settle for anything less than full marks, which was something I didn't even knew I could achieve. That is the power of you teachers. You get us to achieve it all!

While I was reading your article, the subject phrase kept on coming to my mind. My father had used this phrase in many scenarios with amazing relevance and I do feel it does have its place here. Aren't well all students of life and best student -teacher relationship a symbiotic one, where we feed of each other. With myself being a trainer as well, I fully echo your feeling about learning while delivering. Your humbleness echoes out the teacher in you and that is such a constructive trait to have, this gives us every opportunity to enhance our selves as humans first and teachers later, as we do not mold machinery but lives and that is not as easy as it is generally perceived.

A genuine piece of text Maam in the month of Teachers ! Wishing you a ‘Happy Teacher’s Day’, I would like to add to what you have said above about the beautiful teacher-student relationship. I have grown up learning from a variety of teachers including my mother and have always wondered about the motivation that drives teachers to read the same textbook again and again over the years. The prime motivator is the unintentional give and take relationship. I say ‘unintentional’ because taking is unintentional for a teacher and giving is unintentional for a student. I have never been able to figure out an emotion equivalent to that of joy that a teacher gets in guiding us. My Hindi teacher had forced me to write essays and poems back in my 6th standard. I started writing poems because of her push but what she got in return is still a puzzle for me. Just as we appreciate teachers for their unique teaching style, their presentation style, teachers appreciate the uniqueness of each student and take it as a learning experience. I would like to disagree with you Maam when you said “They did it, Not me!”. Being on the other side of the table, I will like to tell you that teachers have not only been an inspiration for me, they are my support pillars in crisis situations. As any other selfish student, I approach my mentor only in the wake of difficulty but have been greeted with warmth and smile every time. Sharing difficulties with teachers is always beneficial over sharing it with friends and family. This is because I believe that teachers have a disconnected connect with the students, they are not involved in my personal day-to-day lives but have a tight bond that ties me to them. Never have I faced a situation in my life where my mentor told me to back out from a hardship. Whether it was about multiple failures in CAT or relationship struggles, my mentor has been there as an invisible hand balancing my unsettled emotions every time. MBA in India, or education for that matter, is a journey through a road of rocks. The incidents that you mentioned are reflective of the lives of each of us pursuing our MBA. While some of us are using MBA as escape routes for marriage, others are doing it to survive in this highly competitive world. Teachers are the ones who guide us amidst these nebulous objectives of MBA. So, I will wait for you to write a blog on this next time- ‘Not you, not me, we did it together!’ My mother, a teacher by profession, always says, “You can’t be a teacher without being a student” and I believe in her. My mentor holds the objective of being a life-long learner and inspires me to hold the same. That is why, I treat this two-way relationship with paramount respect. Needless to say, you are a strong stakeholder of this relationship.

Ma’am, it is an inspiring article about the role of a teacher in student's life. It talks not only about the academic responsibilities of a teacher but also the responsibility of a teacher to show his student the right path and I can relate to it as I myself have been a teacher for more than a year. I know how a teacher feels when a good student tells him that he is not as competent as his fellow classmates are and he can’t take it anymore. And now, when I am studying at SPJIMR, I can feel the agony of students who think that they do not belong here or are confused about their decision to pursue their studies. But I think when a student comes to a teacher in a situation like this, he just wants someone to hold him and tell him that everything will be fine and he is doing a great job. I remember once a student came to me and told that no matter how hard he tries, he does not get good marks. He told me that his parents had great expectations from him and he was not able to fulfill those expectations. Because of this, he could not talk to his parents regarding this and did not know what to do. He had made his mind that he was not competent enough to crack Joint Entrance Exam. At that time, even I was not sure what to tell him as I knew that he was a hardworking and intelligent student. Then, I just told him to change the method of attempting the question paper and keep on doing hard work and things will turn around. In a way, I did nothing more than making him believe that he was competent enough to crack JEE and I can proudly say that not only he cleared JEE but he did it with a good rank. A teacher plays important role in the life of a student as students are comfortable in sharing such things with their teachers which they cannot share even with their parents because teachers will guide them in the right direction which will be better for the students in future even if it is a hard option. Sometimes it is beyond the scope of academic relationship but still, a teacher guides the student and by doing so, a teacher helps the student to thrive academically, personally and socially. In this process, it is not only the student who is benefited, even the teacher learns from this process and it helps them to become a better teacher. I would like to conclude by saying that it is true that ‘they did it, not you’ but without the guidance and motivation of Lord Krishna, even Arjuna could not have gone through the war of Mahabharata. Similarly, without your guidance and motivation, these students could not have done it.

Hello Ma’am, Growing up we have heard that a teacher is a Guru-to be revered in all forms. It’s the ones practicing this profession that will ensure how one turns out in life. Reading your article, made me question that today. Clearly both parties are equal stakeholders in the process. It felt refreshing to accept that I had more contribution in my successes than I had given myself credit for. Your article has made me feel more confident about myself as a student. Thank you! I think I can best relate it to two experiences. Back in school when we had Prefect elections, I had lost and felt extremely disappointed. At that point of time my headmistress and English teacher helped me hone my skills. They ensured that I stepped out of my comfort zone to participate in inter school debates and organize school fests. The confidence and visibility I gained from those helped me bag the role of School Captain. Till now, I believed that it was them not me, who made the entire journey possible. However, it seems probable now that if I had not acted on their advice-their help might not have borne such fruit. As Lily Tomlin said, I believe a good teacher sends us home with something to reflect on besides our homework. You have expressed here that the entire onus is on the student for taking action on your advice. But I feel both the teacher and the student play an important part. I think I can better elaborate on it with my second experience. When I started working as an Ed-Support volunteer in Make A Difference, my student had an aversion to physics. Since her board exams were approaching, I worked hard to figure out how to break down the complex derivations and numerical problems to a story that made sense to her. It was a hard 6 months of effort from both of us. I felt a whooping sense of joy when she finally took the physics book and said, “ I love the derivations and numerical problems. This is the easiest thing to understand!” In the self-reflection that followed, I really could not decide what percentage of the success I could attribute to myself. Turning through the pages of her practice book I saw the numerous attempts she made at writing the derivations, drawing the ray diagrams and solving the questions. There were in accurate ones before I had taught her and accurate ones after our classes. That made the answer clear. Both the teacher and the student contributed to the process-though the student always puts in the greater share of effort. The fact that I could show her a way to embrace the subject she detested was equivalent to opening up a new path to learning-a path that she walked all by herself. In the end, every teacher does just that. They open new paths-of introspection, of perspective and of knowledge in their students’ minds. You might feel that in terms of effort it was the easy thing to do. However as a student –to understand that there is more than one way of looking at things is a wonderful revelation. When we finally act on it, it helps knowing that there is guide who will soothe us and help us should we ask for it. And that makes the journey easier. No one can do it alone. We both do it together!

This well written article, a perfect example of student-teacher relationship looks at things from maybe a teacher’s perspective as suggested from the title “They did it, Not Me!”. However, Ma’am, I believe, there is a very strong role of a teacher in shaping students’ future and many other students would also agree with the same. As some of the most influential role models, teachers play a more important role than just providing academic knowledge. A great teacher makes learning fun, interactive and engaging leading to academic success of the students. Teachers are often the source of valuable advice to students to explore different career opportunities or to pursue higher education and I would strongly believe, that I would rely on professors during my MBA to seek valuable guidance to move ahead in my career. Role of a teacher is ever present during our formative years and we would remember that one teacher from the childhood very fondly. It might not always be because of the way they teach or because of the knowledge they possess but could be just because of that one moment when a teacher trusted us and encouraged us to take the risk. The article connects me well, as it reminds me of incidents from my experiences as a student. It could be the encouragement from my Maths teacher in 9th standard, to do well in district level quiz competitions or could be the applause received from English teacher for having done well in elocution competitions, I remember them all and cherish those moments even today. Looking back, I could only remember my teachers to be always helpful and approachable to guide me in tough times irrespective of the attention I paid to them during classes. I think, a teacher might not actually recognize the influence that he/she had in a career which is why they might not credit themselves, but in most of the cases it is that small nudge that helps us excel in life. Ma’am, maybe you do not recognize your effort while doing it, but that doesn’t take away any credit and you deserve to be what you are described by the students in the events mentioned in the article. Maybe you would understand the credit to be given, if you were to think in retrospection about those teachers and moments that inspired you and keep inspiring till today. There is a definite reason why even the most successful keep talking about their mentors and teachers. We strive our way through winding paths, because you showed us the way.

Dear Ma’m, Thank you for writing such an inspiring article. The subtle manner with which you have portrayed your experiences has touched me deeply. I am truly amazed at your innate ability to direct students towards the right path and the manner in which you remain modest about it. Although you have attributed your students' successes to their grit and perseverance, I can affirmatively say that their lives would have ended up differently if not for the confidence instilled by you. We all look for that one person who can connect with us and help us through times of distress. You have been that blank slate which allowed minds to scribble and that ear which was ever willing to listen. This blog has become very close to my heart because, as I read along, memories came flooding into my mind. I have been in the shoes of that sales woman who was initially uncertain of venturing into a field that is generally perceived as androcentric. Looking back, before accepting the job offer, I consulted my father to seek his opinion on whether I should take up the job. He nudged me without a second’s delay and said, “Wow! Sales? Of course. Go for it. But only if you are prepared to face failures”. Although I wasn’t quite sure of what he meant, I accepted the offer trusting his 23 years of sales expertise. Selling an ultrasound machine to a doctor is never easy, especially when you are a fresher right out of four years of engineering like me. I was tasked with handling clients who had CXO level designation and an experience which was more than my age! Time and again, there were failures and innumerable mistakes. I questioned myself often as to whether I had erred in taking up sales as a career option. However, I soon learnt how life teaches us lessons through the most remarkable of ways. It gives us opportunities that challenge our beliefs which in turn pushes us out of our comfort zones. It is the choice we make at this point, that decides the course of the rest of our lives. Looking back at the three years of my tenure as a salesperson, I am startled by how I have evolved as an individual. We all have been that dejected person who questions his/her life and career decisions but what drives us is mentors like you who show us the right path and helps inculcate that never give up attitude.

Hello ma’am, your words are the reflection of your passion and truthfulness with which you support, mentor, guide and encourage your students. It’s true that ‘you can’t help a person who isn’t willing to help themselves’, but the person who is willing, who wants to push boundaries, but is pulled inwards by some factors, need those words of encouragement from that one teacher. Taking example from my life, during final year of my under-graduation, I was struggling with my placements. I used to reach till final rounds and not get selected. It was the most difficult time of my life till date with rejections even after putting all hard-work. It was after on such rejection, I had gone to one of my professors’ cabin. I told him everything and that how I have lost confidence to face any interviews. His few words of encouragement and that conversation worked like a magic for me. I was placed the very next day and the company which shaped my decision for MBA in marketing. I believe hard-work and self-motivation helps you to keep moving forward but those few words by our teacher helps us to take a leap. Would like to take you through one more life changing incident because of the golden words of my teacher. My father’s career gave me an opportunity to live in different places and countries but with the challenge of adjusting with new people. The adjustment and the energy to prove myself as a fit left me with no enthusiasm to be part of any extra-curricular activities in my schooldays. I was in 9th standard and had shifted to a new country – UAE. It was first day of my school and was called by the Supervisor of Senior Secondary School for briefing. I felt she somehow new my fears and reluctance (teacher’s experience of reading faces I guess), she looked into my eyes and said – “Pragya we are a very big school, you must have realized by now. We give ample and equal opportunities to all our students. You are a new addition here and you will get the same opportunities as others to grow but you need to prove your caliber. It’s on you whether you want to take it or let it go. I want to hear your success story instead of how its difficult for you to adjust.” The words were obvious which any student know, but hearing it from her gave me a challenge. I took part in dance, dramatics, Olympiad and even leadership roles. I had a fear of giving well-rehearsed speech also on stage but, I participated in extempore also. Her words were those bells which keep ringing in my ears even today and keep me motivated to try new things, to push my boundaries. In a class, for a teacher there are 50-60 students, but for a student there is one teacher on whom the student focuses for that entire lecture. Every word spoken, every gesture, body movement has a great impact on students’ mind, I believe and have experienced. Yes. we learn on our own but without that impact the learning is incomplete. The presence of a teacher has a great impact on the life of each one of us. I am thankful to all the teachers who connect with their students and teach them more than their subject. The lessons of life which remain as words of inspiration and encouragement throughout our life.

Ma’am, thank-you for writing such an amazing article. I think each and every one of us can relate to the things you’ve mentioned about rejections and failures. Three months into MBA and I guess all of us have figured out that it’s not going to be an easy path. It’s a journey where we’ll stumble, we’ll fall but we’ll learn. There are going to be difficult times when we’ll be in situations wherein we won’t know what’s right for us and will need someone to help us out and show us the right path. If in these situations if we don’t have teachers to guide us, I don’t think we’ll be able to do it. Of course, only guidance isn’t enough, implementation is equally important but we need those words of wisdom to be able to believe in ourselves again, to have the strength to go after what we really want, to take those tough decisions, to stay strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I was talking to a senior a few days back, she told me about how she struggled through her Autumn’s. As soon as she finished talking about her interview experiences, the first thing I asked her was how come you didn’t lose hope? What made you believe in yourself after all those rejections? The only thing she said was that it was because there were people who were there for me. I think her statement substantiates the point that it’s not only because of “me”. Teachers make us understand as to what we’re capable of doing; they always motivate us to dream bigger, to be better than yesterday. In the latest advertisement of Gatorade, PV Sindhu attributes her success to her coach. The lines, “He believes in me, more than I do in myself” shows how teachers can see your true potential. They will even push you out of your comfort zone; challenge your boundaries to make you a better person. Thinking about my own life, I think I would have never reached where I have today had I not met those wonderful teachers that I did. I truly believe that teachers give you a true picture of who you are and who you’re capable of becoming; they even help you bridge the gap. Just the fact that someone has your back, that there is someone you can go to when everything is going wrong is assuring enough. It’s teachers who make us believe in ourselves no matter how many times we go wrong. So, yes! I did it, but I couldn’t have done it without you.

First of all, thank you Ma'am for such a wonderful article. I had Goosebumps when I read the line "They are the teachers, not me". Even though what you said was partly true, you are just being modest about your role in their successes. If we go and ask them about these incidents, I am sure their views on your role would be completely different. Sometimes everyone needs a little push and a motivation to go and win the battles. Not everyone can give those little pushes. We need someone as experienced as you to do those and that is the reason why you have been given so much credits and I can affirmatively say that you deserve all these credits. Keeping this aside, I can very well relate to the other side of the coin as well. I can put myself in your shoes and agree to your views as a teacher. I love teaching and I am one of the very few fortunate people who has had the chance to be a teacher as well. When I was working in a software company at Hyderabad, I was also serving as a teacher in an NGO called “Made A Difference (MAD)”. I used to teach English to 5th grade kids every weekend. The kids present there are not fortunate enough to live a luxurious life as we do. They face a lot of problems every single day. So when I visit them in the weekends, I make sure to spend some casual time with the kids after the classes. When we have one to one conversations, they start opening up about their problems and the problems would be more severe than I have imagined. I try to think and suggest the action plans to be done or sometimes motivate them that it is just a rough phase in their lives and they would go past this very soon. During the subsequent visits, they will come running to me happily saying that their problems were solved and they wouldn’t have done it without me. I used to smile and tell them that it is them who solved all their problems and not me. I was just acting as a light house who guided them to reach the shores safely. It is them who fought with resilience against all the waves and made it to the shore. It is true that without the lighthouse, the ships wouldn’t have made to the shore. But there is no point of lighthouse if the ships hadn’t fought against all the odds and reached the shore safely. Hence they add value to all the inputs we give and it is because of them our inputs turn out to be successful ones. Teachers have their best sleeps when they receive such amazing feedbacks from their students. This excellent article of yours took me back to my days at the shelter homes and made me smile thinking of the kids. Once again, thank you for an excellent article.

Hello Ma’am, going through your blog had brought a huge smile on my face. Your reaction to the gratitude expressed by your students makes me think of the conversations I’ve had with my school teachers and how they would’ve felt after each of those conversations. Thank you, Ma’am, for giving us an insight into our teachers’ side of the story. We owe a large part of who we are today to our teachers as they have played a major role in shaping our personalities. Their role in our lives is not restricted to just completing the academic curriculum. From instilling that self-belief and conviction that ‘Yes, it’s possible and I can do it’ to ensuring our overall well-being, especially the mental well-being, they’ve touched our lives in so many ways. I can still clearly remember my first few days in my new school. Despite having changed so many schools, I was one of those kids who took time to adjust and become part of any group. I was the outsider, the new girl in the class. I was the different girl in all aspects – language, culture and even my height. I was 5’5” in a class with an average height of 5’2”. So naturally, I felt left out and started hating my new school and the fact that I had to shift cities. This was when my class teacher told me – ‘Life is a beautiful journey. Yes, there will be twists and turns in that journey but each twist or turn will bring your car on track’. At that time, I was not able to gauge the deeper meaning of this sentence but still I started taking things in stride just because my teacher had asked me to. I began putting in more efforts to adjust in that environment and even started appreciating the fact that I was different from others. I started looking for the positive element in each and every situation. Gradually, I became a much more optimistic person, so much so, that years later, I could find something good even when I had met with a major accident. Now that I look back at this conversation, I realise how much of my personality has been just because of that one sentence that my teacher had said to me. That sentence which seemed so simple at that time has so much deeper meaning which we can appreciate only now. You might say that it was I who followed her advice and that is what worked, but it was her who noticed me and cared enough to sit and discuss my issues even when it was not a part of her responsibilities. And that has made all the difference. So, it was neither her nor I, it was we who did it.!

As a volunteer teacher under Teach India programme Summer cycle 2016, I got a hands-on experience of being a facilitator and a mentor to a group of 18-20 adults (age group: 20-30). My commitment required me to not just work on improving the group’s spoken English but also to shape their personality and help with career choices. There were multiple instances where I advised and guided them. At times, I pushed them to take tough decisions, other times, supported and encouraged them. I did feel overwhelmed a couple of times during the 3 months period by sheer responsibility and the affect my words had on their careers and lives. At the end of the programme, they all were placed in reputed companies. It’s been a year, but I still receive calls from my students from time to time, where they express their gratitude and show their respect towards me. I realised that as a teacher, I carried the weight of the trusts of those students who respected me and followed me. It’s essential for a teacher to build her credibility and believe in all her students’ capabilities. She must understand their strengths and weaknesses, to guide them in taking the right decisions. It’s only then, he/ she can make a difference and add value to the student’s life. A conscientious teacher would understand the critical role she plays and the power to influence the pupils. No wonder, only few teachers make the cut to become great teachers for every student. Interestingly, the pearls of wisdom and support can be imparted to an individual not just by a teacher, but also by peers, family and friends. As shown through my teacher’s experience, age difference also doesn’t matter. Now, wearing my student hat, I have encountered situations full of uncertainty in my past. I have also been easily stressed and felt low confidence on my capabilities, thereby apprehensive of opportunities coming my way. Times like these, motivating words by my teachers, family and friends have encouraged me to perform optimally and boosted my confidence. I have made decisions through following their advices and learnt from their past experiences. I strongly believe in the quotation ‘God helps those who help themselves’. It’s true that every individual has to complete their tasks by self and make their own choices, but a little support and concern goes a long way and makes a big difference. The thought that we are cared for, have well-wishers with best intentions for us and people who have our back, makes us feel less burdened and soothes our fears. Fortunately, I found mentors at every stage in my life. As a 5th grader, when I got blank on stage, my teacher (Ms. Archana Shori) not only motivated me with encouraging words but provided me multiple opportunities to overcome my stage fear. I still remember her fondly from time to time and meet her whenever I visit my school. In my first internship at TATA Communications Ltd, I found my mentor in Mr. Vardan Malik. He taught me how to make beautiful power point presentations and guided me on day to day tasks. In all these cases, I had to tackle my stage fright by myself, try different designs of power point presentations and take decisions by my own, but the presence and support of my mentors made all the difference. In the nutshell, I would like to conclude by saying that a teacher has a crucial role to play and both the teacher and student learn from such experiences.

Dear Ma’m, Thank you for expressing your thoughts. Teachers are not only teachers, they are mentor and guide. It is not profession but a passion which prepares a next generation of nation. Teacher not only teaches a subject but helps him to see world through prism which gives him insights about life. Teacher nurtures a student like parents do for their kids. I really touched by your ability to guide students in the most turbulence phase of their life & still remain modest. I really appreciates the way you instilled confidence in them, helped them to realize their true potential & encouraging them to have perservance & positive outlook about life. Most of us face the question about our life & profession but mentor like you (teacher) inculcates the spirit of never give up & shows the right path. Life is journey & it is full of challenges, we all sometimes fail & get disappointed. But we all need a guide who holds out hand, helps us to stand up and fight against the odds & comes out of our comfort zone; we all learned resilience & became more self-confident person having positive outlook about life. We owe a large part of who we are today to our teachers as they have played a major role in shaping our personalities & character.

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