In the early years as a novice, every teacher will have had their share of struggles. The picture of a well-poised, super-competent teacher breezing away through her troubles does not necessarily happen in real life. You do try to aspire for the image, but you will be happy to reach halfway! It takes time and, of course, experiences to instill that confidence and composure to deal with instances where sometimes (often), chaos and hysterics might rule the roost.
The learning curve period in those initial years is crucial, as it helps one add on the tips and tricks of the trade in our arsenal for us to use in the future. The observation they have is not just for us; it is about what we observe too; our mentors and co-teachers handle situations, crises, truants, difficult parents, and the list goes on. Then you make your own intelligent decisions—what to adopt and what not to.
My nemesis was in Classroom Management. Yes, I taught Primary classes, but I couldn’t get myself to scream or threaten them. I thought that was what would bring in order; I rued to myself as to how I am ever going to bring myself to do it. I love to have fun in class and get the children excited about the learning process. So with this excitement in play, things tended to get a bit out of hand. My stomach was all in knots when some stern senior teachers passed by and gave those sardonic looks.
Eventually, I learnt from these experiences that each teacher is different and unique, and her methodology even more so. You put your entire self into your teaching patterns, procedures, and protocols, including your Classroom Management strategies. One day, it struck me hard that I have to find what works for me as I looked at the class right across from me. In that second-grade classroom, I could see the teacher sitting at her table, legs crisscrossed, while the kids copied the writing on the board. It was evident that the children had been instructed to write quietly and finish their work, Period. And only when the bell rang did this frozen scenario come to life.
This incident set me thinking…there had been no interaction between the teacher and the young minds for more than 30 minutes. It was a colossal flaw in the process of learning, and it was painful. It was then that I realised, yes, I can do better. These instances teach you that you are in the right place, doing the right thing. You are glad that there is this need, deep inside you, to reach out to the children’s mind and tickle, challenge and prod them as they bloom, and not make them into stuffed potted plants.
After many years of practice, I have honed the skill of keeping children engaged, engrossed, and fascinated! What do I do? I cast twisted, quirky, unusual questions along with the regular ones. It is a relatively straightforward and easy methodology but an effective one. They donned their thinking-hats immediately, and the game was on. Throw them questions from all angles, all areas, and all viewpoints. Don’t stay inside the box or the circle; step out. It is like placing the subject or topic on a swivel stand and giving it a spin. It expands their perspectives, and they enjoy the psychedelic imageries of the content, being subtly suggested or revisited.
A regular classroom time, to me, is never to be treated lightly. It holds vast possibilities: the immense variations it can accommodate, the profound impact it can have on the whole class, or one single child, on that particular day. Here, Classroom Management becomes pivotal. The teacher has to fulfill the purpose for that specific hour and must do it to the best of his/her ability. That is all it is.
The learning and the yearning to fulfill that purpose should never cease; as someone once said, “What purpose is your power if there is no power in your purpose?” More power to our kind!