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It took me 35 years to understand the true value of a teacher

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Child Mental Health

For 35 years I have been a primary school teacher. Many of my ex-students now hold good positions in society, but during those long years I always believed that students must learn whatever their teachers teach them. I saw them as lazy children who failed to do home assignments and performed poorly in class. I never thought of their personalities, different learning abilities and behaviours. I had no idea about children’s emotional and behavioural problems and importance of a teacher’s knowledge and skills in supporting them to improve their psychosocial wellbeing.

By good fortune, one day I had the opportunity to participate in a training conducted by CMC. This focused on developing a child-friendly environment and positive disciplinary approach in teaching-learning. Even though it was short, the training made me realise the need to change my narrow teaching style to a broader horizon, and to become more conscious of the relationship between teacher and student and importance of the role of the teacher in the learning and psychosocial wellbeing of students. During the training, I shared my thoughts with the other participants, of how as a teacher I had unwittingly damaged the lives of hundreds of students, due to my lack of knowledge of child psychology and lack of skill in positive disciplinary techniques.

Now I can tell you that my students are my friends. I teach them, I learn from them, I enjoy games and leisure activities with them and that gives me pleasure.

After receiving training in counselling, I have identified many students who have emotional and behavioural problems. Instead of reprimanding them, now I listen to their feelings before interacting with them, with their parents and with other teachers and staff. I encourage the students who have emotional and behavioural problems to participate in extra-curricular activities, motivate them to try drawing, play and learning activities in a group participatory learning environment. I acknowledge and encourage the students in their every small success and have started a culture of celebrating their birthdays in the classroom. I enjoy working with them and conducting individual counselling. The motivation released by CMC’s training has helped me to change my behaviour and the way I treat students. This has resulted in many positive changes in the students’ behaviour, attendance, academic results, learning achievements, personalities, and active participation in learning and other social activities. Now-a-days I positively enjoy the results of my small endeavours in teaching-learning activities. It is never too late for learning and changing yourself for good cause. This happened to me on the verge of my retirement.

Chhatra Raj Giri is a primary teacher, now working as counsellor teacher in Prabha Higher Secondary School, Katike Deurali, Kavre district.

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