Contributed by: Medha Mukherjee

5th September, 2018 was the first time I experienced being on the receiving end on a Teacher’s Day. It felt like just another day when I first woke up. It was raining heavily outside and everyone on WhatsApp was discussing how we will be able to reach our session on time at one of the shelter homes we work in. Though the rain gods were not very kind, most of us managed to reach for the session. We did some fun, full Bollywood style relays with the children and participated with them. At the end of the relays, we had fun discussions and a few girls chose to mimic us. The session then came to an end, we packed our bags and got all ready to leave.

As soon as we started waving them a bye, they stopped us and asked us to wait. A few girls went inside and a came out with a Teachers’ Day card for us. It was one of the most overwhelming experiences I have ever experienced. The girls had made a bird coming out of a cage. They told us that this bird represents them and we represent someone who has opened the cage and given them wings to fly. The feeling of knowing that we actually mean something to them and we add some value in their lives was surreal. I think all of us present at the moment were teary-eyed.

Such experiences add up and give you reconfirmation of the work you do. When you sit down and think of the impact you’ve created, such days are the biggest examples that come to your mind. This place has never been about asking for respect. We always give children the space to decide that on their own.  They choose whether or not they want to learn with us. Once I read somewhere that “The freest child is the child who is most interested in what s/he is doing, and at whose hand are the materials for his/her work or play.” All of us at Project KHEL subconsciously are aware of this quotation. We want the kids to be fond of the activities we do, the things we teach and the safe space we provide, though making them do this through forceful respect may look like an easier option, it is never going to make the change in the kids we want to see in them. We want the kids to be happy from within and try to put our best foot down in order to make this happen.

These are all the positive things and changes we see on ground but a lot goes on at the backstage to see the impact. Not every time you are able to make all kids play, not every time you can give a learning they are going to take with them and remember forever, not every time the session go as planned, not every time you can be the perfect teacher you want to be. On most of such days, you feel disheartened and low. Most of the times you want to just redo the session. (Actually happens, trust me!) But then there are days when the kids subtly express the love and respect they have for you, there are days when they express their joy on seeing you, there are days when you go to a session after a very long time and the kid tell you that they have been waiting for you and you are just left overwhelmed with their purest form of love.

The slope of a line is never linear when it comes to being in any given profession, and being a teacher is no different. For a lot might think that being a teacher involves teaching and repeating the same course every year but it is so much more than that. There are a lot of crests and troughs you go through and then at the end of each day you have to decide, what has more power than the other, you have to choose whether you’ll let the crest overpower the trough or vice versa. And the decision you finally take makes all the difference in your life as well as in your children.