Dealing with ‘An Unhappy student.’
I still remember a student studying in my class 3 years ago. I was the grade mentor of one of the sections of K.G. She was a new student in the school, and I knew nothing about her. I met her for the first time and made a perception that this child has some special needs and she is not able to understand instructions. She started coming to school regularly, and I noticed a similar pattern each day, like not eating her meal; after circle time, she used to stand near my chair without speaking anything, used to get shocked at any sound and would not make friends.
Every day during circle time, everybody used to have free discussions about their likes/ dislikes, favourite person, place, problems etc. One day, every child spoke, she was quiet, and even after motivating her, she chose not to speak. I thought of giving her some more time. That day she came to me and asked me to write a letter to her mother. When I asked her what to write, she told me the entire story that her mother was living in London and expecting another child. The mother couldn’t come to India because of her work commitment and medical issues, and this child was not able to go with her father because of some visa issues. For 6-8 months, she stayed without her mother.
Every day this child would come to me after the circle time and share her feelings. She would come with a piece of paper every day with colour pencils and used to dictate her letter. She wanted me to draw her mother with her baby sister and some gifts. Surprisingly, she would keep all the letters with me and not take them home. I got to know about the root problem. After speaking to her father and mother, we started working together in a similar direction, where we gave her enough time to speak her heart out. Her mother was advised to speak to her every day and explain that soon she would be with her mother. On the PTM, I handed over all the letters from Aadvika to her father for her mother.
She was an entirely changed child and used to participate in all the activities, laugh, make many friends, and improve her academics. Finally, she went to London, but the habit of discussion in circle time activity continued. She would call me from there frequently to discuss her new school and life.
My advice to educators:
• Never jump to a conclusion
• Make a habit of changing perceptions
• Give time to your students
• Trust students- sometimes they know more than us
• Respect their feelings and be alert to their silence
• Teachers have a magic wand that can make desirable changes
- To be patient
- Sometimes a different approach can work
- Share stories indirectly catering for the problem
- Give time to your students
- Trust yourself and your capabilities
- The child is a clay container. Mould the way you want.