A New Year’s Gift – Part 1

by Sahadev Komaragiri

The last day of the year was very busy. As soon as I walked into my office one of the boys wished me good morning and walked slowly and whispered in my ears that there was a fight in the girls’ dormitory on the previous night. I said I will look into the matter.

As soon as this boy left a teen aged 9th standard girl walked into my office with tears rolling down her eyes. “Sir I cannot study in this school. Two of my friends are not talking to me anymore” was all that she was able to mutter. I asked her to stop crying, take a deep breath and tell me what happened.

She told me that she advised one of her friends about something and the friend who was not receptive to the idea got into a fight with her. They both exchanged harsh words. Another girl who could not watch the proceedings without uttering a word joined the fight. That is how she ended up having two girls who are not talking to her anymore. I did not know how to console this teenager who is full of tears. I am not used to dealing with situations like these. However this is not the first time that this is happening in this school, so I do have some experience. This is the time for half yearly examinations and she has her math exam in about an hour. I asked her to go back to the classroom and prepare for the exam. She should spend her time preparing for the exams and not in crying over trivial matters. She said she cannot go to her classroom and asked for my permission to sit in the corridor. It was easy for me to grant her that permission; at least I am now able to give her something as soon as she asked for it. She left and I got busy with a number of things for the rest of the day.

I am the custodian of all the question papers for all the examinations to be conducted in our school. On the day of the exam, I take out the question papers for the subject and get them ready. I allot the classrooms for the teachers; teacher A should go to room number 1, teacher B to room 9 and so on… None of the teachers should see the question papers until the exam commences. The teachers come in five minutes before the exam begins. After signing their name in a relevant register, they take the question papers allotted to the room they are assigned. The same routine was performed that day. Soon after the teachers left, I went on my usual rounds peeping into the classrooms to make sure students are not copying.

After spending some time going around, I settled back in my office room. It was time to prepare my detailed analysis of the performance of our tenth class students. They are now in the “revision” mode for the most important examinations of their life. They took about five tests in each of the subjects and all the teachers gave me their marks sheet. I tabulated them all in an excel spreadsheet. I have been spending some time looking for interesting things to consider, separate the top six students, identify the so called weak students (our teachers call them “dullers”) and batch all the “average” students.  We planned to meet the students of tenth standard later in the afternoon.

While my preparation was going on, I noticed that two teachers were in an open disagreement about a surprise test that one of the teachers decided to give the tenth standard students. I called them in and then we had a long chat on how and why unplanned things creep in and how that should be avoided. The most important thing to consider for all teachers is to ensure that we do not spar in front of the students. We all agreed to move on.

In the mean time the correspondent, chairman and founder of our school drove in. I had a small meeting with him and we reviewed, among other things, academic performance of our tenth class students and how we are preparing them for the final examinations that start from March 26. After an hour or so, he left.

It was then time for the examination to end, the teachers collected the answer sheets and the students left for lunch. It was time for my lunch too. The food, as always, was very delicious. It was a quick lunch as I had to return to my excel spreadsheet to prepare myself for the afternoon meeting with the students. We invited the students to come into my office in three batches – the top 6, the average students and the students who will need extra guidance. All the senior teachers were also present.

The students were shown their marks on an 18` monitor that is connected to my laptop. I presented my analysis and later asked students to explain why they are not good at some of the subjects while they are so good at others. As usual many students put too much of their time on math and science subjects while ignoring the languages. The teachers and I talked about these issues in turns and tried to help students identify their strengths and weaknesses. All the three groups were addressed and by the time it was all over, it was 4:15 p.m.

Ours is a boarding school and we pay our teachers extra salary to stay back for the evening study hours that will last from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m. One of the teachers approached me to see if I would cancel the study hours in view of the New Year’s Eve. After some give and take we agreed to close the study hours at 6:30 p.m. instead of 7:30 p.m.

The study hours were about to begin at 5:00 p.m. and I did not forget the girl who was in tears in the morning. It was time to summon the girls who got into a fight the previous night.

Continued in Part 2

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarathy S January 1, 2012 at 10:50 pm

Very intense day Sahadev. Looking forward for the 2nd part. Remember, for us this is just an event among many others. But for the kids involved it could be life changing. As they say, teen years a very impressionable and therefore every event matters. I still remember how I confronted my teachers in 10th grade and how much I valued only one of them. All that did shape my personality and thought.

All the best in dealing with your challenges.
Happy New Year.


Sahadev Komaragiri January 4, 2012 at 8:18 am

Sarathy, I fully agree with you. Well said. I am reliving my high school days. I still remember the things that hurt me as a teenager and the things that gave me strength. I want to give them nothing but the best. There is a desire to kindle their curiosity and make them think very hard about things that matter the most. Dealing with teenage girls and their high levels of sensitivity is something new to me and fortunately for me Sobha is well within my reach to tell me if I am too tough on some of the students. A very good positive for both of us that we now engage each other with animated conversations on various issues. We talk more often now than ever before!


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