The Power Of Love
The Power Of Love
This story is based on a true incident in my life and it has inspired me to continue my teaching profession with utmost sincerity.
I was a new entry into school teaching and the principal decided to test my skills to the most by giving me the challenge of handling grade 1 students. In retrospect after having taught for more than a decade at different grade levels from primary till high school, I can vouch that grade 1 has the most energetic, most responsive, most honest (in giving feedback) and definitely the most loving group of learners you can ever find in school teaching.
It was almost a week in school and I was still finding my feet on the ground. Feeling exhausted with my own expectations of myself, I sat down to have lunch with my class and then I noticed something. Herleeen Kaur stood up and took charge of the class. She got everyone to sit in order, arrange their boxes neatly on the table and announced that they need to finish lunch early because she had planned a game for them. Everyone was following her instructions like she had a remote controlling them. I got curious and pulled out the school camera. After seeking permission from the students, I recorded what was happening in my class.
I went back home and started reviewing the video to note what was Herleen Kaur, who was a student of my own class, doing differently that all others were listening to her so intently and most importantly were enjoying. For the next few days, my lunchtime was my professional development time when I would observe Herleen and make my notes. I soon realized that students trusted Herleen and knew it involved a lot of fun and that is what I had to earn as well, their trust and their belief that learning would be fun.
Things started getting better from there and my students and I started learning from each other and enjoying the time we spent doing things with a clear learning objective in mind. I was smiling to myself thinking, I entered this class to teach and I became a learner again. But little did I realize that my learning would soon be put under the scanner of a challenging situation.
It was Monday morning and I reached the class early to set up the classroom and get ready to welcome my students. Just then, a message came from the principal’s office that I had a visitor and it was an important thing to attend. I looked at the clock and seeing that there were 15 minutes left for the class to begin, I informed one of the fellow teachers to be in my class in case I am late and I walked hurriedly to the principal’s office.
It was Sanika’s father (one of my class 1 parent) and Sanika was not with him. We greeted each other and then the principal spoke in a rather somber tone. Over the weekend, Sanika lost her mother to a severe cardiac arrest. My heart sank listening to that and tears were flowing involuntarily. How and why were the words ringing in my head continuously and my thoughts were interrupted when Sanika’s father spoke. He told me, “Ma’am, I don’t want Sanika to be at home because it will only make her sadder. From tomorrow, she will be in school and I want you to take care of her.”
I do not even remember now how the rest of the day went by but I clearly remember that night I spent thinking about what I should be doing when Sanika comes back to school. Nothing seemed correct or logical so I just prayed to God to give me the strength to do the right thing. My intention was genuine and I wanted to help so I went into the class and waited for everyone to come.
Sanika was the last to enter that day and when she came in, I asked her if she would like to sit beside Herleen. Sanika readily agreed and for the rest of the day, Herleen just kept her engaged and I saw Sanika laughing, sharing her lunch with Herleen and playing like any other day. From that day on, for the 7 hours, Sanika spent in school, Herleen just transported her to a new world full of happiness and smiles. Little did Herleen know that what she was doing was nothing short of what her fairy godmother could achieve.
At home, Sanika had her grandparents to take care of her but her father told me she looks forward to coming to school and I knew it was not me, it was the innocent love of a child that had done the magic. Days passed by and I started worrying less about Sanika but I definitely knew that the grief within had to be shared and communicated for the scars to heal.
This is when the second magic happened. We were learning about community helpers and to evaluate what students had learned, I had told them to draw something about one community helper that they liked. I received all kinds of posters but Sanika’s poster was extra-ordinary in the choice of colours, the detail, and overall presentation. I called her and told her to talk about it to the class.
She had drawn a nurse standing next to a lady on the bed and she said, I want to become a nurse to help others. The class clapped for her but I realized who the lady on the bed in the picture was. That evening, I called up her father and told him to enroll her for an art class. Art was going to heal her and art was going to be her channel to communicate her grief.
I made sure, Sanika drew a lot in class and that her friendship with Herleen continued. By the end of the year, we had to relocate as a family and it was the last, I saw Sanika. But she is always in my wishes and prayers and I am sure her art has given her a window to look at the world in new ways.