Once a teacher, always a teacher!

Back in 2001 when I was just eighteen years old, I entered a classroom when I got the job as a temporary teacher. Yes, without any training I went into a classroom of third graders and greeted them. I was just suppose to fill in as their teachers was on sick leave. However, I did think about what I would do before I went.

I played hang man with them. Come on, it’s educational. I was helping them with their spelling and vocabulary and the kids enjoyed a lot. I was overwhelmed with the way they shook my hand as I greeted them when the bell rang and they asked me to come back. Then and there I decided that I would be a teacher!

Children can be funny, adorable and so many things at the same time. After completing Diploma in Primary Teaching, I joined Ghiyasuddin School. I was given a class and I taught all the subject except Islam, Dhivehi, Quruan and Music. I loved my job and especially my class.

My students were a bunch of seven plus year olds with toothless smiles. They were just so darn cute. Really, I was like every five minutes going...AAAAWW!! Some of them even offered milk packets and half of their cupcakes. I refused of course and the next day when all the kids left, there was a mom waiting to talk to me privately.

She had a kind smile on her face as she approached me and explained that her daughter was very upset that I didn’t accept “the interval” that she brought for me and cried herself to sleep! I felt horrible!! Apparently, she was worried and sad that I didn’t eat anything during the interval period and that I would be SO hungry! So she asked me to just accept it so that her little girl would be happy.

So I explained that it was not a good idea! What if other kids in the class wanted to bring something too! What if they went home and cried until their parents bought a snack for the teacher too! It would have been horrible! Luckily, this mom did understand. So what I did was, I told the little girl that every day I ate a huge plate of rice and curry that my mother cooked and drank a gigantic glass of juice so I never go hungry until I go home.

See what I mean! They are just adorable!

You might wonder why I pursued higher education in language teaching for higher grades after teaching in the primary grades for two years and moved on to teaching higher grades! Well it’s not that I hated or didn’t like primary grades, I loved teaching primary grades but I was constantly advised by my superiors that my language was too high and to simplify my speech (do not use big words) because children wouldn’t understand me! And besides, English language was my favourite subject and there was something about teachers who taught English language (they were the most popular and considered our favourite). And to become a teacher who taught English language was one of my favourite dreams from my childhood!

I remember the first time my supervisor observed my lesson. She was impressed but she said that I used too many big words! And she particularly noted down “volunteered” and said that this particular word was not in the second grade syllabus! But I pointed out that the kids understood me and came forward to write the answer on the board! And besides, to enrich their vocabulary, every week I introduced three new words that I wrote on the side of the black board and got them to use them in their writing and when they spoke! Of course I explained the meaning and drilled them every day before starting the lesson and throughout the week, I would ask them what they meant and or ask them to write a sentence on the board using one of the new words.

However, she told me not overdo it as these children were very young and try to just simply my speech. And I was suppose to encourage them to speak in English!

This reminds me of another incident that I would never ever forget! As I’ve said earlier, I was suppose to get my second graders to speak in English and I was doing my very best! I gave rewards and praised them if they tried! They didn’t have to be prefect…if they tried…that was good was good enough for me. And praising and the not so perfect star that I drew on the star chart did the trick.

Every Thursday was dictation day and during the interval period as the kids ate their snacks, I sat at my desk and quickly tried to mark the books so that I could give them their badges before they went home. As I was marking a girl walked up to me and muttered Miiissss!

So I asked her, “What is it dear?”

The girl said, “Meeeeeeeees.”

So I asked her again, “Come on, tell me now…what is it?”

Again she muttered, “Miss thiiiiiiisssssssssss!”

Without taking my eyes from the book that I was marking, I asked her again, “This what dear?”

The girl finally blurted out what she wanted to say, “Miss this omelet hurts!”

“WHAT OMELET and how can an omelet HURT!!!!” I thought! I stopped marking and looked up to see her pointing at a rash on her chin! 

You see, in Dhivehi we call pimple bihi and to lots of them or a rash bihigandu. Only then I realized she didn't know the word for bihigandu and was trying to think of a word to use. Interestingly...bis means egg in our language and bisgandu is omelet, so I guess she used omelet because that was the closest word she could think of!!!

I realized how hard my students were working to speak in English and for a teacher, that’s the best reward. I was overjoyed!

I miss teaching younger children but then I do not regret the fact that I left primary grades and moved on. I don’t think I would be very happy teaching the same grade (and constantly simplifying what I wanted to say) for the rest of my life. I like to try new jobs and teach different grades, teach in different institutes and simply enrich my experience as a teacher. So it’s just me, I like to move forward in my career and be a bit more adventurous and try new things I suppose! Yes, I do plan to pursue higher education (STILL) and may be try something new!

But I don’t see myself doing anything else…I mean besides teaching. I just love teaching and I can’t even imagine myself in another profession!