This morning, I was up rather early. The sun was up but stayed hidden behind the clouds and yet a diffused sunshine percolated down into my soul and cheered me up, as I picked up my laptop to write my post.
Even before I could think of what to write, my mind was racing back to the day, many moons ago when I had started on my very first job as a high school teacher! The day and the memories from that morning turned out to be crystal clear, despite the decades that come between then and now.
Happy memories, wonderful times, the fervour and enthusiasm of youth, and the zeal to make a difference in what I could do best—teaching was always my first calling and my love. I come from a family of academicians who’d dedicated their lives to teaching and it was a very natural progression for me to imbibe that spirit from a very early age. And yet, it was rather ironic, that when the calling came, I was actually training to be a computer programmer in a city far far away from where I landed my first teaching job.
It was a chance visit to my hometown and an accidental meeting with a lady that had led me to this most interesting opportunity and it was too tempting to resist. The interview followed and somehow I managed to impress the panel. Before I knew it, I was standing outside the gates of this very esteemed institution, at 7:30 in the morning, waiting to walk into the Principal’s office, a bit nervous but definitely, very excited to commence my new job.
First jobs are like that, right. You feel like a mish-mash of all kinds of emotions within yourself—but you know that you cannot duck the arrow that’s aimed at you. You got to take it with a smile. Fear and nervousness. knocking knees. Sweaty palms. Face flushed of all colour. Feigned confidence. All of it. and much more. But, once you’re over the first few minutes, you settle in rather well. Before the day gets over, you feel you belong here. You wanted to make a difference in the one way you know best and here is your chance to live your dream.
Today, years later, the memories come down on me like a torrent. Precious, beautiful amazing memories from the days. Aside from the challenges, the joys, and the fulfillment that it bought me over the course of the next few years, I must also share the fact that it was the learnings from that role that made a tremendous difference in my personal growth. Between the person who entered the gates that morning and the one who came out at the other end a couple of years later, was a marked difference—in terms of empathy, maturity, understanding and humility. And then years later, when someone tells you that you were their hero and that you made a big difference in their lives, that you were close to what they now call the “influencer” on social media, I felt like tearing up because I’d never have believed that such a thing could happen. My learning here was this—even the most ordinary job can grant you the opportunity to make a significant impact on the lives of others. All you need is to do your job well.
The one most important lesson that I learned from my role as a teacher is that learning never stops and sometimes, even though we might feel we’re stuck in a rut, we might be surprised to know how far we’ve actually come in life. In the years to follow, I pursued higher studies and later worked in the corporate world as a researcher, then a trainer and a management consultant as well. Every role came with a unique set of experiences and learnings but, for some reason, I still hold those memories of my days as a high school teacher very dearly and very close to my heart, even today. They are the ones that I cherish the most. The ones that bring a smile to my face when I look back and wonder at how swiftly time flew by.
I wish I could go back to those days once again. Now, all I have is the memories…of the classrooms, the curious faces, the inquisitive eyes and the endless questions…the stories we’d read, the poems we’d recite, and then, I can almost hear the peals of laughter, the jokes, the funny quips…until the voices fade and dissipate into thin air.
As I reflect on that day, I know somewhere in the backdrop of the rolling blue hills, there must be someone, who would be walking towards her class, armed with a copy of the English Reader and an attendance register, ready to greet an eager and extremely inquisitive bunch of students for the very first time, heart pounding with part fear and part excitement at the prospect of a new beginning.