Crossing the boundary: What I did during my stay there still knocks them to ring me

Chandra Acharya

              Chandra Acharya                 ELT practitioner, Life Member of NELTA,  and freelance writer in English

 

 

Frankly speaking, this blog entry does not entertain you, the readers, because it does not unveil any particular issue on ELT rather it talks about an effort I did to advance the career in ELT creating a recurring dream for the learners ever no matter where they go and be what in their life. Hope you do not interpret this as a self exaggeration.

I was so I did, I am and I do and if I will be I will be doing

This is the working definition of existentialism and I am not untouched by this definition. As the title, ‘Crossing the boundary: what I did during my stay still knocks them to ring me’ owns a sense of existentialism which is directly linked to the effort I made during my stay in an English School from where I started my teaching career for the first time. Mount Everest English School Dangihat, Morang, where I started babbling in English (for the language teaching) is the means and ends to expand the horizon of my passion in English language teaching. Thus, the credit of all the success I achieve on ELT till this time goes to the administration there.

At first, it was quite challenging for me to be adjusted in the environment. I was with a tongue twister that how could I be a good member of that nice community. This questioned me several times on my behavior and challenged me to work as a teacher of English. No sooner had I presented in a class of 30 more students for the first time, the nightmare started since then. In the very beginning of the presentation I found some quake shocks in my body but it went at please some minutes later. I didn’t know whether the presentation was beautiful or not but what I did after the supervisor left the class was quite nice and that worked in my selection I think. I had sung a song that was a key of my selection I think because I had kissed the heart of the students through that song. So, my salute also goes to the song; mohani laglahai gauleko bolile…, that I had selected this song as a dancing number at the school anniversary I talk later. Making some other talks with the administration I returned to my room on that day. No sooner had I reached the room I found a call from the principal that I was selected as a lower secondary English teacher there.

The next day I got the appointment. As I got the appointment I found that the real life began with some emotion.  On the one hand I felt happy that the cost of the study could be maintained decreasing some financial burden to my family, but I felt like a horse in a shed on that day onwards on the other hand. As I was like a colt on the grassy land before, I found myself be a dutiful dude day to day. Sometimes, I felt the freedom of life was banished but actually the real life had begun. Since then, I understood the value of time, the life of different circumstances and the policy of talks. The very important thing I learnt was the professional life cycle one owns.

Teaching and preaching to the kids at the threshold of adolescence, I crossed a five-month life cycle as a lower secondary English teacher there as I had joined on the month of Kartik. Then after, the post was switched to secondary English teacher. Having being a five-month experienced member of that nice school family, I found myself an energetic member that I had to be in any of the administrative decision, be it a classroom management or creating an English environment they are making every efforts for a long time. Analyzing my capability in English either it is a pronunciation or creative writing skills or any other skills a teacher of English should have, the administration shared me a responsibility of a co-coordinator to manage English environment in the school zone. This made me a unique kind of teacher among the colleague there. As they did this, I thought it was an opportunity to collect the missiles of English language and to blast over that community they were in need. So I promised myself to left no stone unturned in my responsibility ahead.

To this, the very first thing I did was; making the colleagues agree to make ‘teacher talk’ in English as they could and the ‘baby talk’ for the students. The reason why I did this is teacher talk is a key to form a habit to do everything in English on the part of the students because learners are the imitators of their Gurus. Simply, I requested them to use English as a Medium of Instruction (EMOI) as I was impressed by the term; if one needs to be a good person in English one should do things in English. I also tried my best to spent some of their class-time to engage in private speech; talk apparently to and for themselves rather than for any external conversational partners which could regulate internal thought, without any external articulation as proposed by Vygotsky. To the teachers from nursery to secondary, either they were teaching English or Nepali, I shared some ideas to speak in English on several bases. As I was also the beginner in English, I tried my best collecting ideas from external sources to create English speaking environment in the school zone. In addition to this, I assigned a student of higher classes who could spoke English at ease to each house. Managing these things properly, Nepali speaking environment magically switched into an English speaking zone. Here, the very exciting thing I found was, even the students of class nursery smiled saying good morning sir/ma’am, may I go out sir…, bye! bye! sir/ma’am etc. which made me feel proud in my mission.

The second very important thing I did for the success of Mount Everest English School during my stay was; sharing ideas in certifying the authentic teaching learning materials in English. This does not mean that applying a book from the foreign writers, but the book to facilitate English speaking zone they need and to empower students in English. What I did to this matter was making decision against the administration’s agreement. Crossing the boundary they had already established, I stopped them not to apply the books in Nepali medium in English subject. I didn’t know whether the decision I made was favorable to the will of the administration, but it was a great effort for the success of the school and its family I believed. Why because, if students are with the choice of a difficult thing and an easy thing at the same time, no matter they choose the essayist way. I mean if we had launched the books of English subjects translated in Nepali, the students could only read the translated version of English terms. They didn’t go for exploring and practicing the things in English and this certainly could create problems in developing reading comprehension on them which could stop in facilitating in fluency in English too. Considering this I stopped them and they agreed to me finally. But in the very beginning of this decision they were against me as I was to them, because they might have some benefits in applying the books of different publication every year which I didn’t know at the time. With some ups and downs I enjoyed teaching the kids there.

Similarly, my effort for the success of 10th anniversary of the school, the first time after its establishment, was another corner stone for the good will of the school. I know it was the first event I have ever coordinated in my life and that was the first and completely a new event organized among 5 more schools in the community there as the local newspapers reported the other day. In the programme what I did the best was making students able, to present 6 hours long programme sharing varieties of exciting ideas to build of positive attitudes, and to making speeches in English from primary to secondary. The programme proved to be a success of the mission; creating English speaking zone in the school as each students assigned for the specific work talked in English during the day which could easily be seen on parents’ appearance.

As their wish, I left no stone unturned to make the anniversary a mega event under the chairmanship of Mr. Jagat Bahadur Basnet, a foresighted principal of the school. Mr. Basnet was not only a principle of the school; he guided me as a path-exhibitionist whom I never forget till the ELT air exists in my mind. I am speechless at the time I talk about the attachment between him and me. How he guided, encouraged and added a new kind of emotion to boost of my passion in ELT is not enough to explain in words. Because of these very things I worked there as a catalyst for the development of school no matter how hard I did in different ups and downs during my three year’s stay there.

The hardest of all I faced was at the time of leave. It was quite a difficult thing to be separated from their parent like relationship. At the leave I thought that something from my body was being separated. I don’t know how they felt in my leave, whether they were sad or happy but Mr. Basnat’s speechless voice while accepting resignation letter broke my heart. Though leaving them was not my interest, it was my compulsion to earn master’s degree at Tribhuvan University (TU) which, I say, was my childhood dream.

As I had a dream of earning master’s degree in ELT at TU, I did it last year and made them a call to share my happiness; they responded me saying ‘Surya sir the door is open for you all the time’. I wondered why they called me as Surya sir, I questioned myself first but later I found that my very last speechless voice at the time of leave from the school was; I am Chandra Sir till this time, tomorrow I will be back again and rejoin the relationship as Surya Sir why because Surya is far more powerful than Moon (Chandra). And one more thing that refreshed the image about the school was, the school had just been running in a new building with facilitated teaching learning environment. Having fun of this kind we ended the conversation. Since then the call log in my mobile is not untouched from Mount Everest English School’s reminding call.

In summing up, I, not only worked as a teacher there but as a change agent for managing quality education and to the all-round development of the school. Teaching students the good moral to making them a positive minded personality to have success in their life ahead. I tried my best as a teacher one should do this or that for all the success of his/her students and for the school improvement in overall. But one thing I could never learnt during my stay there was money-minded nature which I hope I never learn until my last breath. Because of all these very things, what I did crossing the rules and regulation of the school during my stay still knocks them to call me to reunite the circle there. And finally the school building I visited last time on Dashain vacation stunned my heart. The design of the building attracted me to take hundreds more photograph and one of them I have attached here comparing to its structure during my stay.

Students studying in old classroom setting

Students studying in old classroom setting

New building which warmed my heart in my last visit

New building which warmed my heart in my last visit

New classroom management

New classroom management

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last but not the least words I suggest to the novice teachers and to the experienced ones to some extent are;

  • believe in work to word,
  • never be frustrated working under pressure as it is the starting of you real life,
  • feel that every activities done in the school is your own property and should have your responsibility on them,
  • try applying all the efforts you have without being money minded,
  • think that teaching environment you are with is the lab to practice the knowledge you earned,
  • believe that the routine work you are in teaches you the policy of life,
  • and finally, leave no stone unturned to be a unique teacher in the circle creating a recurring dream in students mind whatever they do and where they stay in their future life.

 

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