Bonding with Students: Parimal Subramanium

Parimal 1MT: Grades have fallen, so they were concerned. Students are doing well after school. How do we make our school the best in Ambala?

Teachers’ behavior depends on the subjects taught. We need each teacher to teach both language and science in lower classes and higher. As senior teachers you get some ego – because you teach higher classes. That is why it is important to teach junior classes. Fact of life – What society requires is important. So tenth student results are important. Getting into a good college is a must. Every child is different.

We have to be different – but not so much that parent cannot understand you. Important that they sit for 4th and 7th scholarship exams. A school is like a river. The flow changes, the dirt levels change. Make noise, you will get attention. Keep a constant interaction with parents of the ‘average’ kids. Every 15 days you should have an event to get the parents to come in. It could be a presentation of their work. Kids are adults in making – I had a kid who was actually my cashier – he used to collect the fees. Row monitors – get the students to correct the books.

You must attend Physical education class – it activates you – it ups the teacher’s energy levels. 10-15 minutes of group activities – holding hands. Touch is important – you must touch your students at least 3-4 times a day. Wish them when they are going home. Tell them – tomorrow you must finish you dabba. Tell Mamma. Or Papa. Or brother. Or grandmother. When they have tiffin you must eat dabba with them. One day in a month get food for your class – it makes a lot of difference. These are bonding activities.

School teachers should have their own dress code. I have always used cotton saris – with handloom and big border. Children associate the teacher with you. If you change your dress everyday, then you become a topic for discussion. Strong make-up distracts. It also develops complexes – especially in the higher classes. We need to do more of integrating activities. Teaching is not a job – it is a life mission. All of you need to evolve your own method of teaching. You raise your family with intuition – not science. You have some basic knowledge – but rest of it is art. The same has to be used in your classroom.

Good mothers are good teachers. In Springdale, my best teacher is a 10th fail. Trust your instincts. What can I do for this kid? You become a leader, because it comes from within. We are one with the children.

MT: What are your teaching principles?

Example – In class 9, I picked up an essay – Blue Rose – from Reader’s Digest. She was retarded. I taped a 5 minute conversation with a retarded child and played it. We got typed notes for the class. Kids pointed out that the kid was different. We discussed the vocabulary – but we also discussed what we can do for such children. I started a school with 80 kids – of these 14 came in merit in class 10! Make it a point to make them enter district competitions. Min 4 in a year huge parent activities should happen in a school. You should have a lunch or dinner day with parents – have it class-wise. Involving them is important. Some of the housewife-mothers can be encouraged to become substitute teachers.

2 activities – parents should sponsor some food stuff. Christmas cakes for example. Volunteers for sports day can be parents. Felicitate such parents for their help – give them gifts or certificates. In communication with parents, end with Have a great weekend.. Or hope you have to prepared for assembly. Birthdays should be celebrated. In assembly. They should come forward – and present. Should come in civil dress. Parents should contribute books to the school during the birthday. You decide what school library wants or the school wants – maybe even TV. Make use of the birthday fad.

MT: Birthdays were stopped at MT because this was leading to comparisons and competition.

School should be a true representation of society. Comparisons happen in society  – let that happen in school. We should treat each gift with the same respect – though they can afford differently. Rotate who can give gifts? Every parent should not give gifts every year.

MT: What do you do about hyperactive kids?

We had a student – Sachin Shinde – robust child. Such kids always have a problem in the family – there is always a dominating relative. These kids are usually physically gifted. Get the kid to come in early – 15 minutes of running. Drain their energy. Every 1 hour 15 minutes this person has to do physical activity – collect books, wipe the blackboard. We were always addressed by our first names – Parimal Maam or Parimal teacher. Make them the ‘ground’ leader. Watering the ground. In lessons, two types of questions – superficial and deep. Get all the superficial questions answered by these kids. These kids are physically gifted. ‘Hardik is very good in drawing’. Make them stand in assembly. Discuss in staffroom – and identify a group of kids. In teaching and medicine, there is no hierarchy.

MT: How do we bond better?

Watching movies together or having lunch together is a good experience. We should also have school wise outings – with your own children. Get them to count the marks in the papers. I found that I was becoming dominating – my husband pointed this out in an outing. Have a management meeting once a month – give them your suggestions. Involve parents and society, you have to develop a rapport. In one meeting, I got 6 lakhs for a school building for Abhinav.

MT: We feel exhausted because of school workload – and don’t have energy for student interactions.

‘Walk briskly’. Ask them to sit and stand. Ask students to put their heads down. During that time, you Breathe in and breathe out. Think of the good things that have happened before. In planning, designing student activities. When should you take a unit – weathering – do it in summer – when you can see it better. Use a picnic, to teach them about weathering. Put songs, show pictures. I used to teach poetry under the tree. We had a science day – the whole day. No teaching – only fun. Share with parents. Physical to mental – mental to physical. Younger children – put your hand on head – down. These physical diversions are gains – not losses of time.

MT: Students spend a lot of time complaining about each other.

You can rotate the kids – put some of them in the first bench – then put them back. Some kids will require more time – because they are weaker. A school is a direct representation of family or society. Parents should know that teachers are experts. So in case of conflict, judgments are respected. They should understand that we have taken time before we have communicated with them.

Maam’s bungalow has won the best House award in India in the year it was built. Here is a photo of our teachers admiring the house:

Parimal 2