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When A Teacher’s (Short) Note In A Child’s Diary Made A Big Difference

Posted: July 23, 2019

Having a note written to the parents in the school diary is the ultimate horror for every school student but what if these are used to write little notes of appreciation?

We don’t know how long our words stay in someone’s mind and heart. They might stay there long after we have forgotten them.

Being in the teaching profession gives me enough opportunity to speak every day. What I utter is a mixed bag because I face so many situations at school. Sometimes words are backed by anger, sometimes frustration and sometimes care.

It is our responsibility to stand like a beacon and guide the students in the right direction. The first step towards this is making them learn to respect you and your methods.

However, if a child refuses to comply, the teacher has to inform the parents by writing a note in the diary. I am no different. But this year, I made a small change in this habit and fortunately, it worked wonders!

It was during the first term examinations when Purohit came to my notice because of his below average performance. His work was incomplete, the teachers complained about his distracted behaviour, his contribution to the class activities was negligible and his marks were low. Knowing that the parent would come to collect the report card for the parent-teacher meeting day, I brushed aside the matter for that moment.

“Ma’am, Purohit has not been doing well in class. He is taking much longer than expected to adjust to the new grade. His inability to cope with all the subjects is leading to bad scores. He is too distracted to work on anything,” I finished in one breath when I saw Purohit’s mother on the D day. The mother’s dour face scared me a little but I thought it was better to be honest.

“Purohit was never like this. I have cornered him several times and demanded an explanation. But he has nothing to say. So, I really don’t know why he has become like this,” she said solemnly.

I could see the pain in her eyes. Purohit had his head bent throughout the conversation. He did not say anything and that troubled me for days. I had never seen a child so helpless. I could imagine the stress on his mind.

He was being rebuked, being punished and being laughed at. Isn’t that a lot already for a child? His mother and I decided to make him feel comfortable and encourage him to open up and feel good about himself.

Weeks flew as fast as the speed of light. Purohit started showing some signs of improvement. But he refused to open up. No matter how much I tried to take him into confidence, he just ended the conversation with- ‘Ma’am, nothing happened. I just don’t know why I became like that’. I wondered if he wanted to keep things under the wraps and did not probe him further.

In a month’s time, Purohit’s English test was due. Unlike his previous performance, he aced the test and couldn’t believe his ears when I announced his name in the class. Even his classmates were surprised. But some of his (new) friends patted his back. His coy face brightened that day. Gradually the wrinkles on his forehead vanished and he regained his lost charm. He did well.

He promised me that he would submit the English notebook with completed work. And he did that. One month before the final term examination, I decided to inform those parents whose children had not been submitting work or had been scoring low marks in tests. As I collected the diaries, I also asked Purohit for his diary. It was like I had dropped a bombshell. He was taken aback. But I did not say anything. I wrote a small note to his mother saying:

Dear parent,

It gives me immense pleasure to inform you that Purohit has been doing well in English. His work is complete and now he takes an interest in the lessons. He has also made some new friends in class. Congratulations!

I called him out and said that there was a surprise for him in the diary and told him to get the note signed by his mother. He didn’t seem to understand anything. I chose not to explain.

Next day, he was all smiling in the classroom. I knew my words of appreciation had done their job. As soon as I entered the classroom, he rushed towards me and showed me his diary. His mother had sent another note.

Dear Ma’am,

Thank you for this surprise. This made our day!

That day I realized the true value of words. Using the school diary only for the purpose of complaining wasn’t fair. Shying away from appreciating the good and taking a step forward in complaining about the bad is our nature.

But I learnt what a difference a small change in attitude can make.

Picture Credits: Pexels

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An educator by day an author by night, Enakshi is also an eminent book reviewer.

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