In India we celebrate Teachers’ Day on 5th September, the birth anniversary of Dr Radhakrishnan, the second president of Republic India. He was a great teacher, respected and adored by his students so when his students wanted to celebrate his birthday he requested that instead they celebrate his birthday as Teachers’ Day.
Teachers have the power to affect change in the lives of their students for better or for worse. If one is lucky one would have had the good fortune of have had at least one teacher who transformed one’s life for the better. A kind loving teacher can help a child overcome her/his limitations, unearth their strengths and help them thrive to the challenges they will face in their life. I was fortunate to have had wonderful Dot Teacher at the start of my learning life. She taught me the joys of learning, discipline and the importance of completing one’s task on time.
However, I’ll always be grateful to Mrs Johnson for showing empathy during my darkest time, the time when I was coping with multiple traumas of loss, abuse, rejection, violence. When all the teachers were punishing me for non-performance and poor academic grades post my mother’s death. (Since I was a top performer before my mother died). Mrs Johnson was the only one who never ever shouted at me, or insulted or gave me another remark for my violent father to sign. I will always remember her stopping by when I was punished outside class by another teacher and asking with deep compassion what was the matter, why am I being punished so often and then she asked me the earth shattering question “Is something wrong at home” and I looked at her kindly eyes knowing that even if I told her the truth my father would deny his abuse and only blame me. And all I could do was mutely shake my head. But that look of deep compassion for my suffering was what kept me sane in the chaos of my life. That someone understands.
The documentary “Paper Tigers”, documents the lives of staff and students of Lincoln Alternative High School. Students at this high school had behavioral issues and poor academic performances and were usually suspended from school. After discovering the studies on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), the high school changed its approach to handling the students with kindness and in-school suspension versus automatic punitive punishments. The school’s approach to truancy and other behavioral issues was showing empathy for the kids, instead of asking the question ‘What’s wrong with you?’ the Principal Sporleder told his staff to start asking ‘What happened to you?’ Then, let’s be quiet and listen with compassion.”
Paper Tigers asks the following questions: What does it mean to be a trauma-informed school? And how do you educate teens whose traumatic childhood experiences have left them with a brain and body ill-suited to learn?
Against the harsh reality of truancy, poor grades, emotional pain, and physical violence, answers begin to emerge. The answers do not come easily. Nor can one simply deduce a one-size-fits-all solution to a trauma-informed education. But there is no denying something both subtle and powerful at work between teacher and student alike: the quiet persistence of love.
Third-grade teacher Kyle Schwartz asked her students to fill-in-the-blank in this sentence: “I wish my teacher knew _____.” The results astounded her. Some answers were humorous, others were heartbreaking-all were profoundly moving and enlightening. The results opened her eyes to the need for educators to understand the unique realities their students face in order to create an open, safe and supportive place in the classroom. When Schwartz shared her experience online, #IWishMyTeacherKnew became an immediate worldwide viral phenomenon. Schwartz’s book I Wish My Teacher Knew tells the story of the emotional and insightful responses of her students. The book provides an invaluable guide for teachers, parents, and communities.
Parents have the chance to influence maybe 2 or 3 human beings but a single teacher can change more than 100 lives in her career. Teachers are the most influential professionals who have the access to young developing minds, By just being caring and understanding they can transform a whole generation of humanity. They truly can help make this world a better place
How a teacher changed the life of an emotionally hurting boy, Teddy Stallard
My Teacher is a Monster! (No, I am not) by Peter Brown