Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Happiness and Tolerance - Shalini Solanki

   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:

To be patient
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

Dealing with ‘An Intolerant student.’

I had a student in my class who was very bold, talented, outspoken and intelligent. She had a problem agreeing with others. She would go to any extent to show her disapproval. If she was asked to share anything, she would run from the class, not eat anything or sit on the floor. Even in the class assemblies, she wanted a solo role without anything scripted. She would listen to no one in the school. Parents also had a similar opinion about her. Once, another teacher in my class said her ‘no’ to check her work first and asked her to wait for her turn. This student punched the teacher in her stomach. 

Now we know that she will not be handled by anyone this way. So we started avoiding her behaviour for some time after speaking to this student’s parents. When she used to sit on the floor to grab attention, we would praise her and say that we must respect her choice; she is more comfortable sitting here. When she used to disagree to share things with her peers, we stopped insisting she share, and after a few weeks, she realised that everybody was sitting in different groups and working, and she was sitting alone. When she insisted on participating independently, we would tell her that we do not have such roles with us, and she would have to wait for other assemblies to experience them. We used to share stories related to her problems during circle time, where indirectly, she got messages of loving, caring and sharing.

Gradually, she was a changed girl totally. Now she realised that she would have to give consideration to get the respect. She started loving her teachers, and she made almost everyone her friends. She participated happily with the entire group on an annual day. She is a changed and happy child now. Her parents are pleased with the changed personality of their child; they always wanted to see her.

My advice to educators:
  • 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.

Shalini Solanki
Gyanshree School, Noida
JOL Cohort 2022

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