Thursday 3 March 2011

Under the radar at all times

Being a teacher is lovely. No doubts. But being a teacher entails responsibility. Now I would like to see responsibility in two ways. One, where the individual is by default responsible and two, where the individual has to be consciously reponsible. But then one cannot always be categorised strictly into either one of the categories as there are moments and times when an individual slips between categories. Isn't everything in life like that? Well, that is why this post is so titled.

Every word and deed of a teacher become quote-worthy material. This post can also be seen as an extension of an earlier one titled, The perils of being a teacher of English. Sometimes I have to be quite wary of my words and examples as I am aware that I am being watched intently. The ability to switch from one role to another comes quite easily to a woman (Statistics say so, it's not me) but occasionally it does become a tad tedious. When among friends, I let lose my guard but then I suddenly realise that my students are around. Changing from a teacher to a friend and again a teacher requires immense acumen. I'm sure you will agree with me. Even the role of parents are quite similar. But parents have only one or two kids in comparison to the teacher who has to be aware of her/himself when in the presence of many kids.

My language, both verbal and non-verbal and style, when with students becomes different when in a formal classroom. Though I don't think of myself as a conventional teacher, there are times when one has to be taken seriously. As I write this post, I wonder what my students will think of this piece of writing? Are they aware that their teacher is not a teacher alone. Some eager students (whose enthusiasm for the subject is absolutely admirable) accost you while taking a break and suddenly the bliss of reverie stops mid-way and reality (as a teacher) cloaks one's personality.

It's wonderful to know that students admire and look upto you. On many a gloomy day, my visage is brightened as I enter into a class full of eager (and not so eager) faces. But in spite of all that, I feel that I am under a radar at all times.

Professional hazards, anyone? Some hazards are just an outcome of excessive thinking and analysing.

A companion piece to this post: Corinne Rodrigues' Do You Follow The 'Rules'?

Image: Internet


  1. I get your drift, Sus. I'm a teacher too. But I don't feel I'm "under the radar". I'm quite laidback in the classroom (meaning I'm my usual facetious self), although I do draw the line. I could be strict when I need to be. Students get it and approach me without apprehension (they even hug me!) and I don't feel too uptight and guarded when I'm with them.

  2. Ha ha..! I'll share an incident.. and maybe you will look at it from the students point of view.

    My school English teacher.. is now a dear friend and we just randomly catch up with each other online at times.. and I remember mistyping a word and quickly apologizing for it and telling her at times.. plz excuse my grammar.. lol.. and every time she was like.. I am not your teacher anymore.. but I somehow thats how I will remember her. So, actually, I feel under radar as a student! :P

  3. AJ:

    I am quite footloose that way and a happy-go-lucky person. Inspite of all that I feel a bit pressurised at times (and those are the times I want to chill full time) :)
    You are blessed, indeed.


    Once a teacher, always a teacher. But the behaviour outside and inside a classroom has its own decorum. To each, his or her own tale of woe.

  4. I think I can agree with you on this one Susan. The disadvantage of being a teacher is that his or her students look up to him or her all the time in almost every aspects, morally and intellectually. Sometimes, students can be very unforgiving. That is why teachers often think they are on the radar... But I guess if you and your students know how to draw the line, then maybe you do not need to act so weird to one another....

  5. my job is very fluid...based on how the kid i am counseling is doing...i have to be ready to scrap everythign and go a different direction...i still have to help them meet goals though so i have to maintain balance. probably my greatest peril (beyond bodily harm) is stepping on parents toes...

  6. I've learned somehow not to feel bothered any more... if I was always aware of that radar OMG i would not be able to be myself in the classroom and though there is a lot of acting in it, after the years of experience i know now that a good class is that where the teacher is approachable to a certain extent and for me to be relaxed I cannot think too much about the radar...

    A post dedicated to YOU at sweeter images!!! :-)


  7. You are on the radar.. As was that to be lose or loose?

    Cheers A

  8. "To each, his or her own tale of woe."
    So true!

  9. This is very interesting, enjoyed reading your reflections on responsibility as a teacher. I think one can be relaxed, happy go lucky, and friendly for sure in the class room (and out) but I also do believe that there is a vague area in which you are responsible for any behavior that could be interpreted in a negative light. In so many ways as a teacher, one is an example, someone looked up to and perhaps mimicked. That alone gives a responsibility.

    I think it must be equal parts wonderful and frustrating to be a good teacher! I am sure you are a really excellent one Susan Deborah! You seem like a balanced, wise, and confident person, I'm sure your students really enjoy your class!

    Thanks for a great read!

    Much love, Colleen

  10. in my capacity as a gym instructor, i have learnt so much from a group of 17 year old college boys. The day i turned around and said you lads treat this gym as a creche, and now you're going to do a real workout ... i butchered them ... their entire ethos changed from that moment ... they now train like champions and seek advise and 'listen'.i'm proud of everyone on them

  11. Nice post...with switching role, you have to change your mindset and the can sometime be annoying as you might be forced by you head to do something in certain fashion though your heart want something else...its a battle between head and heart!

    Be yourself all the time...Enjoy every bit of it! :)

  12. i think this is true of everyone, Susan! We're different people with our colleagues, with our seniors, with our friends, with our juniors, with our parents and so on.

    It's natural to want to provide the best impression at all times, to be sensible with some, to be deferential with others, to have fun with some and to have business meetings with others.

    I have a friend who's my age and teaches commerce students economics and statistics. She's always so pliant and cheerful with us, but always very formal and serious around her students, I've noticed.

    She tells me we must observe boundaries and limit our personalities to suit the people we're with.

    She's right, just as you are. Lovely post, dear Susan. One of my favourites on your blog! :)

  13. I'm actually aspiring to be an English teacher, so reading this post was definitely interesting.

    Recently, I've started doing some field experience work, and I've come to notice just how much under scrutiny teachers are. Some of those students were even watching me, pointing out things I was or wasn't doing.

    So it's definitely a professional hazard. Students are constantly watching and listening and in some cases researching, as one teacher found out through the hard way.

    Despite the constant scrutiny, I'm looking forward to finally stepping into my own classroom. Actually, since I still look like I belong in high school, I'm going to sit among the students for the first few minutes so they think the teacher is late. I remember hearing how one high school teacher did that in my friend's class. But that's getting off topic.

    Anywho, real thought-provoking post for me so thanks for that.

  14. Susan,

    Good post. Since I am headed into teaching and even now, have some level of "face recognition" on my campus, it is a difficult issue for me as well. With my big mouth, I feel like I should have some sort of disclaimer tattooed on my face...

  15. I do teach students that enter the lab and guide and advice them all along until they are done with their Bachelor, Master or PhD degree which takes one year to 5 years.
    A while ago I realized that I work in unusual environment, where most of my coworkers are 20 years younger than me. I also realized I can never have a normal professional nor personal relationship with them. It is difficult at times as there are very few friendly conversation due to many reasons: I have very little in common with these young people and they see me as someone senior with whom they can never just chit-chat. And this is only going to get worse as I get older.:)

    Have a lovely weekend dear friend and thank you for another interesting post.;)

  16. No more professional hazards for me. I'm back to being a student, myself. But yes, I used to be a teacher and I remember, in the earlier years, being a bit nervous about the whole "being watched" stuff. I also remember telling myself I had to drop the phobia already or I wouldn't make it in the profession! But I also know what you mean when you speak about being in your zone and then being approached by student and having to switch gears. I remember, sometimes, bumping into my students outside of school, and having to switch internal gears quickly so I can put on my "teacher" look. But then, I did realize I can't keep doing that, either. It becomes a bit schizophrenic after a while.

    Right now, I'm back in the blissful womb of receiving education. The only thing is... I don't get to be the unruly kid. I'm expected to be a professional and "together" adult. Can't do nothing, anymore! Sheesh! ;-)

    Have a vibrant weekend, Susan!

    Warm hugs,

  17. My degree is MA in Music Education. The few times I found myself 'out of' a performing role, and 'in' the role of teacher were not altogether pleasant for me.

    I wanted the anonymity of hiding in an orchestra...of course, as a raging alcoholic during those years, I was of very little use for anyone.

    Life is different and better better now (or I am!) and I am certain I'd be a good teacher today--and I am--in small ways. I teach my 12-year-old grandson violin. He calls me to remind me on lesson day--grin! Isn't that marvelous?

    Susan Deborah, thank you for being here. I read you often and shall continue to do so, hopefully get to comment.

    Did you catch my--only one ever!--coined word?

    enlightningment=Instant Nirvana!

  18. Hi Susan

    Very interesting to read this post. My kids often talk about their teachers good days and bad days. I remind them that teachers have picked that vocation because they like to teach. When they see kids learning and enjoying what they are learning they get great satisfaction from their profession. The flip side is the kids who are do not connect and make life miserable for all. I encourage them to make the most of what they are learning, to talk to their teachers and show interest in what they are learning. Their teacher can be their greatest advocate and mentor.
    To not take advantage of the opportunity would be a shame.

    I imagine you are a great teacher Susan. It would be a fascinating subject to write about and for us readers to follow along ;)

    Best wishes Susan

    Jeanne xx

  19. Jorie:

    Jorie, glad that you understand my plight.We don't act weird but sometimes I get stifled.


    We shall overcome, Brian :)

  20. Dulce:

    You are a seasoned teacher. I should learn from you as I begin my career.

    Warm hugs back to you dear Dulce :)


    "lose" or "loose" is always my problem. Funny.

  21. Colleen:

    A cup of mixed feelings, it is! No matter what, I love my students.

    Much love back to you, dear Colleen.


    What a testimony! Proud of ye, Larry.

  22. Karan:

    If I am myself, my students will get the better of me. Sometimes it requires role-playing, you know. Inspite of all this, I enjoy every bit of the whole process.
    Hope you are having a good weekend :)


    Everyone has to role-play, right. But the teacher has some added responsibilities, I reckon. You friend is right. But the beauty lies in tackling all these roles effectively and all of us have our own ways and methods.

    Thanks for your kind words, dear Karishma. You never cease to bring a smile to my face.

  23. EE:

    Wow! Congrats on the choice. I am glad that this post gave you some insights on the teaching profession. I would like to know more about your specialisation and other things. Where are you going to teach?


    Big mouth! Yes. Even I have problems with my "big mouth." So besto for everything :)

  24. Zuzana:

    My! you must be meeting so many students and giving them instructions on working in the lab. Zuzana, going by your blog, you always seem a person who would have good conversations with almost anyone. I'm surprised when I read this. But maybe you're right. Writing is quite different from speaking in real.

    Hope your weekend is coming on well, dear Zuzana. Wishing you a lovely view every morning from your room :)


    You have the wonderful opportunity of being on either sides, dear Nevine. I guess humans are so adapted to everything that after a point in time, everything becomes a habit.
    I wish you joy and peace in your "blissful womb."
    You have a lovely weekend with warm tea and lots of love :)

    Joy always :)

  25. Steve:

    Your comment always brings a smile to me, Steve. Glad that you're around. Your grandson must be one lucky kid to be having you as an instructor.
    Your coined word is splendid. Let us popularise it.

    Joy and peace always :)


    Thanks :) A lovely weekend to you.

  26. Jeanne:

    Thanks for your kind words, dear Jeanne. I just hope I would be a great teacher.

    Have a great weekend xoxox.



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