Educators' Perspectives

Children have shaped me to be the person that I am today: a better teacher and educator

Roopa C – Director
Head Start Pre-Primary Schools

Summarising my journey of over two decades with Head Start and all the children who have been under its umbrella is an extremely emotional and difficult task. It would be impossible to capture the multitude of learnings and memories in a brief writing. Children have shaped me to be the person that I am today: a better teacher and educator. I learn more with every passing year. I have filled my knapsack with various experiences––some rough and bumpy––but others mostly pleasant and smooth. Each experience has revealed the immense potential that children have. Their unique personalities have given me a chance to reflect and unfold my potential too, and thereby adapt myself to their learning styles.

Every year I've grown both personally and professionally. As an observer, I was able to absorb everything around me and seize every opportunity that came my way. Just as Montessori education creates a learning path for a child, so did it create one for me as an Adult. I was only able to see the principles of the methodology unfurling in children after working with them for almost five years following my training. The culture and ethos of the school added more dimensions to my perception of schooling for young children and paved the way for me to consolidate all that I learned. This strengthened my belief that every child is unique and that I, as an adult, am holding a huge responsibility in facilitating the learning of each child. It made me work harder on myself to be able to reach out to every child I was entrusted with. Every parent-teacher meeting gave me a glimpse of the trust and faith that the parents vested in me, being their child's teacher. It was very gratifying each time a child left their parent’s hand and walked into my arms, reminding me of the role that I had to play. The trust, faith, and unconditional love that I got from children was beyond words, and that was when I started enjoying my work and understanding the word 'passion' for work.

The beliefs and practices of the organisation––to give equal opportunities to all children––later took me in the direction of inclusive education in a Montessori set-up. To acquire the necessary technical skills to reach out to children who are differently abled was my next goal. Having children with different abilities in my environment each year helped me align my thoughts with that of the school. This helped me realise that nothing was impossible if the adult was willing to go that extra mile to accommodate the limitations and strengths of those who are differently abled. I could actually see that the Montessori approach blended and integrated the children beautifully into the multi-aged environment. This in turn was conducive to all children to work in harmony and develop qualities of sensitivity and empathy.

After a few years of work with Pre-Primary children, I was inquisitive and wanted to understand what children did beyond the age of six. When I saw them graduating from Pre-Primary and moving into the higher grades, I was curious to understand if all the qualities that were seen in them during their early years were still retained in their core personality. When children participated in various events, my heart would be filled with love and admiration. I could only think about how blessed I was to have been part of their early years.

The decision to do the Primary course was a difficult one; but in hindsight, it was a good one. The amount of learning and reading I did during those years to prepare myself for classes only reminded me that I was more of a student than a teacher. Exploring the different nuances of topics and subjects, and appreciating their connectivity and relevance in today's world, was a new revelation again. It was interesting to understand children of that age; and the way they questioned and kept challenging me was food for thought.

Having gone through a more traditional education myself, I would say that I was able to understand how different it was to Montessori learning. I was extremely fortunate to experience the pros and cons of different systems of education. I have begun to appreciate and imbibe the best practices to suit the needs of today's children. Working with my colleagues added more dimensions to my learning and motivated me to imbibe new practices from them as well.

My belief in the process deepened and made me realise that every teacher is unique in their understanding of a philosophy and their work with children. This in turn added richer experiences to my knapsack.

I would like to continue my journey for as long as I can. Interacting with Montessori practitioners who have contributed over four decades in the field has been rich and inspiring. It is a reminder that the role I have played so far is minuscule in the whole process and the road to experiencing the child of today is yet a new path to explore and evolve.

My learning curve has been steep and all the courses I have taken have helped me understand that my love for children overrides everything else. This is why I do what I do.