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Know Your Teacher: ‘Lead by example and be a good role model for students’

An English teacher at Apeejay School says that getting an opportunity to shape young minds is an honour



She did her MPhil in English and BEd from Kurukshetra University before she went on to becoming the Head, English Department and Academic Coordinator for Senior School at Apeejay School, Pitampura. Meet Savita Panhotra, whose teaching journey began in 1987 in her hometown Ambala.

‘I joined Apeejay School, Pitampura in 2007 as HoD, English. I teach classes XI-XII. I admire and firmly believe in the vision of our late Founder-Chairman Dr Stya Paul – Man-making nation-building. I was fortunate to join Apeejay School, Pitampura as it opened so many avenues of exploration and learning for me.

Excerpts from an interview.

How has your journey been thus far?

It has been enriching. I have traveled to different places in India and abroad with my students as part of school trips and learnt through various projects and initiatives of school that my growth as a teacher and human being has been shaped by my school.

What is the best thing about being a teacher? How has your journey been?

The best thing about being a teacher is that you get an opportunity to shape young minds and help build a strong community and nation. Where else do you find a chance to shape the mindset of so many young pupils year after year? The affection and respect that my students have showered on me over the years, and the bond that we have maintained fills me with utmost pride. More so, when I realised that I was a part of their journey it was incredible. I would not trade this for anything else.  My students are my joy.  Even after so many years of teaching, I feel a sense of excitement about meeting a new batch of young students. I have learnt so much from all my students. I am forever indebted to all of them to have given me my identity as a teacher.

How do you make your classes interactive since students become bored very fast?

Yes, it is indeed challenging to hold the attention of the students for a long duration. The tip is to get to the level of the students and teach them, not be a sage on the stage. I am lucky that I teach English. It is an interesting subject and therefore, easy to connect the topic with real-life incidents, anecdotes, personal experiences, and examples from the world. We talk to each other in class, discuss, and debate. It is amazing to hear and learn from the perspective of the students. There is never a dull moment with my young students in class.

What are the challenges of a teacher?

 We know the best road to follow. But we follow only the road that we have become accustomed to. I think losing sight of your goal and getting lost in mundane things is the biggest challenge for any person. Our profession has so much scope to be creative, imaginative, and innovative that you can teach the same topic in so many different ways and arouse a sense of wonder and see the transformation in the child. The easy and instant availability of answers on Google and other Ed-tech resources has also dumbed us down and led to the loss of originality and joy of discovery.

The best way to discipline students.

Lead by example. Be a good role model for your students. Instill a sense of pride in acquiring the habits of successful and happy people and give them a genuine appreciation for their actions. Keep encouraging them and make them understand that good values are an asset in life. The weakest student in my class is my pride. When I work with him/her and see the transformation and exult in his/her success is my biggest reward. The intelligent ones in the class keep challenging me to better myself to be their guide.

How do you build a rapport with the students?

Although I am a teacher of the old school and a strict disciplinarian, I do share a good rapport with my students. You must listen to them without any preconceived notions or biases.  Listen to them and make them feel that you understand their point of view. Respect them, even if you have a difference of opinion but do not let them feel insulted or small for any reason. I feel students are keen observers and see through any kind of fake behaviour.

How important is it to have a good relationship with parents and how to cultivate it?

It is very important to have a good relationship and understanding with parents as both of them – the teacher and parent share the same goal – growth and holistic development of the child. If both of them respect, trust, and have faith in each other’s capabilities, it can be a win-win for them and the child. Regular meetings with the parents help build a strong relationship and appreciation and praise of the child along with your genuine and encouraging feedback can work wonders. There is a saying by Paulo Coelho: When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.

Shalini is an Executive Editor with Apeejay Newsroom. With a PG Diploma in Business Management and Industrial Administration and an MA in Mass Communication, she was a former Associate Editor with News9live. She has worked on varied topics - from news-based to feature articles.