Apurva Mathur’s morning alarm goes off at 5 am, signalling the start of another day of teaching and learning. He has his morning routine set, which includes working on his book for two hours, and then he’s off to BYJU’S to expand young minds and his own. Mathur’s colleagues Tarana Thakurdas and Aswin V start their day similarly – rising early and preparing for a full day of exploring questions and discoveries.
Being a teacher isn’t easy, and even more so since the pandemic, when we had to redefine what a classroom was. Handling multiple classes with curious and energetic children full of questions and stories can’t be a walk in the park – even if it comes with a mute button. But these superstar teachers at BYJU’S still love teaching because of one common belief – the learning never stops.
Mathur has been teaching Physics for 17 years but says that he still learns something new every day. “I always used to say that ‘I want to grow up to be a child’ because there’s one thing that a child is full of but weans off as one grows up – curiosity! This annoying incessant habit of questioning everything and constantly asking ‘why’–t turns out that’s all you need,” he said.
Aswin has a similar philosophy that he lives by. “Learning is getting new information; it is making new connections; it is equipping ourselves not to need to go through everything from scratch. I do not see learning without the ‘lifelong’ aspect,” he said.
Testing the boundaries
Aswin’s philosophy is evident in the way they have been teaching over the years. Thakurdas loves being challenged by out-of-the-box questions from her students, which then leads her to strengthen her lessons with more in-depth research. In fact, every day is an opportunity to learn something new, especially for Aswin, who recently realised how different perspectives can only contribute to making something better.
“We recently worked on this little physics/electronics model to capture sound. We researched and built five or six copies of the model, repeatedly making small changes. It was good but not great. Then, we showed the model to a biology teacher, who simply suggested that we put a paper like an eardrum to capture the sound better – and it worked great!” he explained.
It’s a generation thing!
But learning doesn’t always happen in a classroom. Lessons on Science, Maths and even life can come from anywhere if we’re willing to ask the right questions and listen. Mathur is a staunch believer in this.
“A few years ago, I wanted to take the sine inverse of something, but I had no idea how to do it despite having a top-of-the-line iPhone. One of the students just popped up and asked me to tilt my phone to get it into advance mode. I was blown away,” he laughed, adding that everything he has learnt about finance and marketing, he has learnt from his next-door grocery store owner.
Although, the one topic that evades all three superstars is an understandable one – Gen Z lingo! “When I’m in class, I hear a lot of “Ma’am, this is so easy peasy” and I love it. Now, I find myself using it outside class too!” said Thakurdas.
Keeping the enthusiasm for learning alive among young students throughout the year, especially in a post-COVID world, is anything but easy peasy. Tough days are part and parcel of a teacher’s life and it’s important to acknowledge that and grow from it.
“I look at the tough days as a challenge which teaches me something new. And this helps me to deal with it as well as learn and grow,” said Thakurdas, while Aswin agreed that curiosity is what keeps him going through a tough day.
It also helps to remember those who inspired them to take up teaching in the first place. For many of us, there’s that one teacher who is always supportive and makes us want to go to school and inspires us to aim high. And our teachers are no different – they all have a teacher who did the same.
“My English teacher in class eight, Ms Alice Remedios, recognised that I have the gift of the gab. Without asking me, she put my name in the extempore English debate competition. While it was a surprise, it made me realise that I have a skill for public speaking,” recounted Mathur.
For Aswin, it was his 10th-grade Maths teacher who always treated all her students with the same respect and kindness, making sure everyone was included, which makes him work just as hard with his students.
While there are good days and bad, learning is always part of the day for these tireless teachers. As Aswin puts it: “It is not ‘fall in love with this subject, or this skill, or this way of doing something’ – it is ‘fall in love with learning.”
Read more on Teachers’ Day here:
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10 Lessons We Can Learn From Nature
13 Things Teachers Say That We Love
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