Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Happiness and Tolerance - Maithreyi Venkataraman


Joy Of Learning program will inspire you by using examples of where the
values are already being used by children and adults in schools

An Unhappy Student

Happiness is the most fundamental emotion for a person. If one needs to be happy, they need to learn to realise their distinctive qualities have a sense of self-respect, accept the limitations of their capabilities, and feel joyful.

To learn anything, the learner must be receptive to learning. They are interested and feel inquisitive to know more. There are various ways wherein we, as mentors, make a difference in the lives of the varied students we are a part of. Feeling truly happy makes the student feel receptive and open to learning.

I would like to share a student I have met in my 12 years of experience. This student helped me gain a perspective and confidence that with empathy and understanding, we teachers can truly make a lasting impact on the life of students.

My first interaction with this 15-year-old - The first day I entered his class, among all the mixed curious faces trying to craft their own impression of me – was with a new teacher in their school who had come to teach them English. This one boy was staring out of the window; he caught my attention as it seemed like a challenge to make him willingly turn to my class.

Days passed, and yet this student seemed to remain unhappy, never interested in the class. Despite all attempts at different kinds of activities, nothing seemed to work. Even getting more minor marks made no difference for him.

Determined that I wanted to make this boy happy, I set up a meeting with his parents to understand the reasons for his state of mind. This interaction gave me an insight into the child and his mentality that also helped me understand his actions.

He was a brilliant student but would never respond or participate in class. He would not pay attention as he had grown to believe that other than the two subjects that interest him the most Science and Math, all other subjects were just a waste of time.

Hence, he would remain unhappy in all other subjects. I started talking to the boy and explaining how all subjects are integrated with one another. It was indeed not a one-night wonder. It took months, but there was indeed a gradual improvement.

I included activities where he spoke of the subjects he loved, and happiness started setting in with his interest. Soon by the end of the year, he stood as the highest scorer in my subject and most importantly, he was a very happy boy who had learnt to associate life with his studies.

My learning from this experience, which I wish to share with my fellow colleagues, is that we may form impressions of our students as mentors, but we should never judge them. We must know the reason behind their behaviour. We will certainly be able to help the student and make them happy.

An Intolerable Student

“An intolerable student”, the term itself, I feel, should never be an impression in any teacher’s mind about any student. However, the fact also remains that we all face such an adverse issue wherein we may have to encounter such behaviour in a student.

I cannot share a personal experience as I have never ever categorised any of my students as intolerable or unmanageable. Hence, I shall share my general viewpoint on the subject.

There may be many ways a teacher may label a student as ‘Intolerable’. They may be exhibiting very inappropriate behaviour in class towards their teachers /peers.

They may be disturbing the class to the extent that it is impossible to continue teaching in the class.

There may be innumerable complaints against this student from a teacher and their classmates, and no amount of counselling / or any other strict action aiming to rectify the student’s behaviour seems to change their behaviour.

Any behaviour or issue can never be diagnosed, judged or handled without knowing the reason behind those actions. The reason should not be seen based on any one particular act. Still, other situations and scenarios that might have happened earlier, both at school and at home, should be considered.

A child who is over-pampered at home or a child who has no listener at home will exhibit behaviour to gain attention. Usually, this kind of behaviour reflects a negative outcome.

E.g., The over pampered child has grown to believe that whatever they do is acceptable and may bully a fellow classmate. The child yearning for attention has been raised to think that if they just usually speak, they may never be taken seriously; hence, gaining attention will adhere to inappropriate behaviour like bullying a child. Therefore, the action of both the children though may be the same, but they both cannot be handled in the same manner.

Some of how we can handle the children are first being good unbiased listeners. All children need someone to listen to them without judging them. This will develop their confidence in the teacher; once the bond of trust sets in, the journey of rectifying the child’s behaviour will be very smooth and, most importantly, effective.

My suggestion to all my fellow teachers is never to give up on any child but to give them your time, patient listening, understand the reason for their behaviour and not judge them just on their superficial behaviour. We, teachers, have this innate ability to make that impression in the minds and lives of our students, and we surely can be their guides who will help them become better human beings. 


MAITHREYI VENKATARAMAN
Gyanhsree School, Noida
maithreyi@gyanshree.in
Happy Teachers JOL Cohort 2022
Learning Forward India Academy

Saturday, May 14, 2022

An Unhappy Child - Preeti Mahajan

My experience with the values of Happiness and Tolerance in the classroom.

1. SYMPTOMS 

The child was quiet and passive in the class. He did not interact much with his classmates and teachers. He was slow in his work and understanding; he was also quite irregular in attending school. 


Diagnosing the problem 

i. The child was politely asked about his family, parents, daily routine, and likes and dislikes. After a friendly interaction, I learned that both his parents were working and hardly spent time with him. He is the only child. He takes tuition for all the subjects and depends on his maids for everything. He doesn't want to come to school also. 


2. ACTION TAKEN 

It was pretty evident from his behaviour and from the interaction with him that the child was in an unhappy state. You always remain sad and depressed. The child was counselled the parents were called and informed about the child's psychology confidentially. Individual attention was given to the child by the subject teachers. Parents also took time out for their children. Positive reinforcement and acknowledging the child's efforts brought a change in his behaviour. 


Result 

The child has started taking an interest in school and school activities. He has started interacting with his classmates and his teachers. Now he has become a Happy child; he is seen spreading happiness all around. Consequently, there has been a positive impact on his studies. 

Advice to the educators to instil happiness and tolerance among the students. 


1. Make the environment happy tolerant, and respectful for everyone. 

2. Use comments to shape the child's behaviour. 

3. Right counselling at the right time. 

4. Make the child feel memorable, safe and loved. 

5. Make learning exciting and enriching. 

6. Practice before you preach.


PREETI MAHAJAN
AHLCON PUBLIC SCHOOL 
JOL Cohort 2022

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Happiness and Tolerance - Welham Boys' School


Reflection pieces 

1. An Unhappy Student

A while back, I came across this “unhappy student”, who I want to stay anonymous, so let’s call him X; clearly, the math teacher in me never fails to keep hidden. X’s parents recently separated, and he was living with his father, stepmother, and a step-sister who was almost as old as him.

X used to come around like a miserable, troubled kid who preferred to stay alone. He often cried and complained that he didn’t have friends and wanted to go home. Repeatedly refused to have food and acted stubborn as he was pampered by his grandparents at home. After discussing with his parents, we learned the scenario and that he felt unwanted and unloved because he was sent off to a boarding school whilst his stepsister wasn’t. Whereas his father just wanted him to have a better future, a higher sense of independence and self-awareness. Instead, his parent’s divorce created emotional turmoil and insecurity for him.

I felt the best way of overcoming this emotional barrier was through communication and creating an atmosphere where he felt wanted and comfortable sharing his feelings. That was not enough; we had to channel his energy into different things so that he could get distracted and becomes emotionally healthy again. We enrolled him in several activities like guitar and vocal music, which were his interests. That opened up various opportunities to perform on stage and build up confidence.

Love, care, patience, and empathy have made him a happier kid than he was initially. He has not opened up about his feelings yet, but I respect that and give him space, to grow more confident and content and time to reflect upon himself. It wasn’t just me battling against his emotional demons. It wouldn’t be a fair fight; it was a united team effort of the House-Mother, teachers, tutor, House-Masters, and parents, who did everything to mend and give direction to him.

2. An Intolerant Student 

Bob Keeshan was right when he said, “Parents are the ultimate role models for children. Every word, every movement, and action affects. No other person or outside force has a greater influence on a child than a parent.”

Children who witness violence between parents may also be at greater risk of being violent in their future relationships, and it becomes a part of their personality. I had seen such a case myself. 

Keeping the kids’ identity hidden and calling him Y, he had joined the school on a particular recommendation in the middle of the term, which was very unlikely. That was enough to draw attention to him, but he still managed to do that, as he used to hit and abuse other kids. He was a challenging child and had significant anger issues. By addressing this issue and taking the parents in the loop, we discovered that Y’s behaviour resulted from the domestic violence that used to take place at his house. 

The school took this sensitive matter very seriously, and firstly, his hostel was changed until he was comfortable and settled. Secondly, they changed the faculty that dealt with him to those staff members who knew and understood the matter in depth. Everyone showed patience and calmness, which slowly changed him, and even a little of his good behaviour was encouraged and appreciated. 

His way to cope with his anger was to hit people, i.e., he let his feelings out ‘physically’; now, our challenge was to channel his anger and frustration and give it direction. Thirdly, we introduced him to drums; this turned out as an excellent escape for him, gave him something to focus on, distracted him and in the end, he turned out to be one of the best drummers and became an asset to the school. 

During all this, Y was regularly undergoing professional counselling offered by the school, which helped him deal with his behavioural issues and anger management. 

After a slow, steady progress and baby steps over 5 years, we successfully taught Y how to make friends, manage his anger, balance his studies and lastly, WE transformed him from an intolerant student to a ‘tolerable’ one.

Neelima Parmar, Vandana Sahay & Monika Gupta
JOL Cohort 2022

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