By Karan Thakkar
(Karan took on the challenging task of leading the Campaigning class for Socially Useful Productive Work (SUPW) for the Middle School (Std V to VII). As a farewell gift, he gave us the EcoFest which sought to, and did, spread awareness about wildlife and its conservation.)
I had just quit my job when Gerish Khemani (one of the teachers at Shishuvan) invited me to visit Shishuvan. It was a regular day and I thought rather than sitting idle at home I would take this opportunity. So I went to Shishuvan. The first thing that struck me was the school uniform. It was bright in colour and more comfortable compared to most of the other school uniforms that I had seen. Although I didn’t have any preconceived notions about the school, I thought Shishuvan would be like any other school.
Gerish took me to Shubadra, the Head of Department, High School. I was surprised to see the warmth with which she accepted students in the cabin. Then I accompanied Gerish for his lecture. On my way to the classroom I noticed the respect with which students addressed the helping staff. I was pleasantly surprised until I reached the classroom. Working in a company makes you accustomed to discipline and professionalism. So here I was in the middle of students yelling and screaming and running around. I just couldn’t bear it. I wanted to leave the classroom as soon as possible. I was happy with the visit but was sure that I couldn’t teach.
Karan with his Campaigning team:(first row L-R) Shaily, Bhakti, Anushka, Riddhi and Maitri. (second row L-R) Tanay, Dhruvin, Karan, Raj, Niral.
While I was leaving, I met Kavita Anand, the Director of the school. What she said is something that I will never forget. “Students have immense potential. How you treat them is upto you.” That was my first and most important lesson as a teacher. So I took up the role of a SUPW teacher.
The reason I quit my job was to start my venture. One of the key skills of management is handling your team. Here I had a bunch of students with extreme potential and I had to channelize it. My role was to make them sensitive towards the environment. The initial few months were very difficult. I used get disappointed as we couldn’t achieve our goals. Then I realised that you have to be one of them and then take them slowly and steadily towards the goal. Over a period of 15 months, the students kept surprising me. We participated in skits, workshops, fairs etc.
I have quit the school now, but the school and students will always remain dear to me. Teaching has been one of the most unplanned decisions that I have taken so far. But something I am extremely happy about. Just like a child gives birth to a mother, a student gives birth to a teacher. I have learnt more than what I could teach, received more than what I could give.