Teacher of the week: Aparna Rajan, JSS International School, DubaiNovember 13, 2017, 3:30 am GMT
HEAD OF DEPARTMENT – COMMERCE
JSS INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, DUBAI
Why and how did you get into teaching?
Teaching is not just a profession, it is a mission. It is rightly said that the destiny of a nation is shaped in a teacher's classroom and that is why I chose to become a teacher. No career, no work can be more rewarding than that of a teacher who is equipped in building the personality of children who can face the challenges of this world with zeal and enthusiasm. My own love for learning made me passionate towards teaching. My Economics teacher who used unconventional techniques inspired me, and I strive to bring the same passion for innovative ways to learn to my classroom. I chose to be a teacher because being with children is like being endowed with perpetual youth.
How long have you been teaching for?
I have been teaching for 14 years now .
How did you find your way to working in the Middle East? How long have you been in the region?
I have been in the Middle East for four years and I am enjoying every bit of it. I wanted international exposure and applied on various job sites. It was People First recruitment agency that shortlisted me for an interview with JSS International School. I had first an interview in India and then a panel interview as well as demo here in Dubai. In these four years I have learnt a lot from JSS International School. Each day unfolds a new learning experience for me. Being a teacher in today's time has made me more confident, innovative, creative and enterprising.
What is exciting about your role?
It never feels monotonous, as every child is God's special creation to be nurtured. Each day unfolds a new learning experience for me. Each day I wake up with a song in my heart, each day I walk with a lighter step, each day I elevate to higher levels of awareness because each day brings with it a set of new challenges and new situations to be tackled.
What is challenging about your role?
As I teach Grade 9-12, I have found that the most challenging students are the ones who don't apply themselves. They don't seem to care as all others are unable to see their potential. It is these types of students that I really try to reach out to. So I take them in my confidence to let them know that someone is rooting for them and that I am invested in their future.
What's the biggest myth about teaching?
Lots of folks underestimate the difficulty of being a teacher. The fact is that teaching is a lot harder than most people understand. People have a misconception that teachers have an easy job, working 7.30 am-1.30 pm with summers and holidays off. But teachers work before school starts and long after the students go home. We work all summer too – taking classes, attending workshops, working on developing activities, units, lesson plans to help students learn better and learning new skills to integrate technology into class rooms.
Who has been your inspiration throughout your career? Why?
My career until now has been a journey and not a destination. Many people have inspired me in my beautiful journey of teaching. I learn when I teach. I remember my childhood where I loved a subject due to the teacher. My school teachers, a few of my colleagues, my mentor and principal Ms Geeta Varshneya have inspired me a lot. I was inspired by their ability to guide students, their fairness in judgements and their sense of justice that made me aspire to bring these things to my own classroom.
What would you say has been your greatest achievement over the course of your career?
I truly believe that learning doesn't end in the classroom. My greatest achievement is to be able to connect with the teenagers and bring out the best in them academically as well as ethically.
Tell us one way a particular student has impacted your life or teaching philosophy.
There was a boy who was really struggling with his eco and commerce lessons especially due to obesity. His grades were quickly declining and it was definitely something he was embarrassed about. I offered to sit with him during break time so that he could get one-on-one attention. We quickly started our mini-tutoring sessions which included academics as well as pep talks and his grades started to improve. I really think it was this experience that made me realize how much I love teaching and how much of a difference I can make in kid's lives. His parents actually reached out to me to let me know how much they appreciated me taking the time to help. To me it was such a small commitment, but to him it made a big difference.
How do you get students interested in the subject you teach – have you found an innovative way to engage students?
I feel the best way to make your subject interesting is to connect it with real life applications. There are always new techniques and theories popping up in the field of education. I am tech savvy so I keep myself updated with new techniques in the field of education. My students may forget the topics that I taught yet they will remember even after years that I taught them to think.
Are there any specific goals you would like to achieve in your career?
Once I am financially stable I want to open a school in the remote area of India where the youth is deprived of education because the destiny of a nation is shaped in a classroom.
How do you look back on your time in the region so far?
It has been a great journey from lecture classes to real life application teaching, from conventional methods to unconventional teaching methods, from being a strict teacher to a friendly teacher. Coming to the Middle East was the best decision I have made, and it has helped me evolve.