Teaching In A Residential School

Posted by Rohini Chakraborty
July 17, 2017

When I joined my first job I was about 23 years. Keeping my job in mind I was very young for the role. I became a teacher- the most rewarding job ever. I stepped in the school as a nervous post graduate student with zero experience of handling a bunch of budding kids. The beginning was rough. I missed my family, friends, academics, teachers and my life which I left back. At times I felt heartbroken because growing up was difficult. I had to wait for a complete month before I actually met my students. The day when I first stepped into my workplace I was in awe with it’s beauty. It is a fairly large campus with a big mango orchard. There is a beautiful park inside the residential area. ‘Okay so this will be my address for a while’-this was my first thought. Up till now I was the student, I was the younger one, I was learning- this sudden role reversal was rather overwhelming.

4th August I enter the classroom of my prospective students for the first time. A bunch of young, fresh, smiling faces looking at me. I am nervous-I hate people staring at me. But I guess that is my future for a while now- about 30 pairs of eyes looking at me together. They look at me expectantly- I do not know what they expect from me but I know I will love them with all my heart.

Now before I go into a deeper discussion let me introduce my students to all of you. My students- they come from all over Uttar Pradesh. They are meritorious but poor, some so poor that they do not even get a square meal. They give a very difficult admission test, crack through all the stages and come to this school where they are provided with a residence, clothes, food and education for free. But all this does not come very easily to them because they compete with almost a few lac students and get this opportunity. So all those expectant faces I saw the very first day have seen struggle, some have broken families, some have seen death, some faced harsh injustice- so they are little souls to whom unconditional love is always welcome.

The moment I entered the classroom I knew these kids expected love from me. Many saw me as a sister, many saw me as an advisor, many saw me as a parent- the expectations were too much from a person who just left her safe and secured cocoon. But still I strived to fit into my role. I became a regular face for them. Students started coming up to me asking different things, they slowly opened up. The most interesting conversation I had with them was how English learning could be fun. Keeping their background in mind English is a challenge to them which most of us- the privileged people will never understand. For them speaking a complete sentence in correct English is like climbing a hill without any training or guidance.

Initially I was given the responsibility of English phonetics and that is when I came closest to these little kids. They all sat in one single class but all were so different. In that class I saw my kids coming up with their individuality. Phonetics which is otherwise boring for 6th graders became my path of knowing my students individually. We started with simple interaction that included English speaking later which revealed the stories of their families and the lives they left behind. From their stories what I understood was that life would never be same for them once they have entered this new arena. Sometimes they are even misfits in their societies but still most of them complete their education successfully and go back to their villages, to their families and try to show them the world from a different point of view. They face resistance but any way they do it.

Teaching these kids has given an experience which life never offered before. I still remember the day when I stood in the assembly in front of a thousand children- so many people looking at me gave me butterflies in my stomach. I was unsure of my capabilities to love them. I met them at a stage of life when I was betrayed in love and my heart was broken. These beautiful souls taught me to fall in love again and taught me that selfless love can happen more than once in life.

Today after after a year in this job I have children listening to me, looking up to me, asking for suggestions and so on. Though the period was just 12 months, I have grown a lot. I have evolved as a human being. I have learned to love without any expectation. I have learned about life’s hardships. I have learned that in a residential school like this you find a new family – a family that will teach you new ways of life. I have a long way to go and while walking on this road I will be picking up the lessons that are left for me. Teaching in a residential was probably one of the best decisions I made in my life.