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I Went to a School on Top of a Hill

I went to a school on top of a hill. In the mountains, the school land is donated by a villager and often, it's situated far away from the village. 

I have been to this school twice before. The students of Grades 3, 4, 5 or the "bade bachche" (older students) are good in their studies but quiet in their demeanour. It took me quite a while to build rapport with them when I first visited there. They opened up about their thoughts easily when I went there a second time. However, on this visit, they seemed eerily quiet. 

We learned a new poem - "My name is Joe". Joe, in the poem, has a boss. Funnily, when asked to describe a boss, they described a "man in a black coat and shoes". When asked who their boss is, they said their "sir and ma'am"

During the interval, as they played, I joined them. Their teacher was busy overseeing the day-to-day processes. We began our conversation about what they wish their teachers knew about them. They opened quite easily as I wasn't the "teacher" in the question. 

"I wish my teacher knew that I want to learn more English."

"I wish my teacher knew that I love special days when we get poori-sabzi instead of dal-chawal". 

"I wish my teacher knew that I don't like doing morning assemblies" (leading the morning assembly)

"I wish my teacher knew that our cow gave birth to a calf a few weeks ago and his name is Chandhu and I tied a little bell on his neck. He is so weak, but he doesn't even eat anything." (Anuj of Class 3 went on lovingly complaining about Chandhu).

"I wish my teacher knew that I love coming to school ".

It was beautiful to hear them talk. However, the 4 students of Grades 4-5 (with whom I had the best rapport) didn't seem very excited to talk to me this time. At the end of the school day, as I gave them their home assignment to draw "a boss" and said bye, Vaishnavi of Grade 4 suddenly said in a loud voice, "Ma'am, last time you said you'll come back in a week, but it took you 2 months." I was stunned for a second. Their weird lack of energy started making sense. They were disappointed in me, but they didn't ask the reason behind why I broke my promise. I still gave them one while apologising as cutely as I could. 

I guess, they told me something they wished their once-in-a-while teacher knew!

Rima Chowdhury

Teacher Trainer and Resource Person, Azim Premji Foundation.

I work as a Government school teacher Educator, and I visit schools to assess students' levels, create dialogues with teachers and provide them with teaching plans.

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