Many new-age schools expect parents to be involved every step of the way. So when Ramesh Jayaraman glanced through a leaflet his son had brought home which spoke about training to teach, he assumed it was a workshop for parents to teach their kids. Intrigued, he decided to attend the session, and as they say, the rest is history.
A chartered accountant by training and a filmmaker by choice with over two decades of experience, Ramesh can perhaps be described as an accidental teacher.
Unlike the quintessential image we have of teachers, Ramesh brings not just an immense amount of passion towards teaching but also encourages curiosity and out-of-the-box thinking in his students.
In this exclusive interview with The Better India, Ramesh speaks with passion about the year-long course on teacher training that he underwent, the teaching methodology, and why he thinks getting trained to be a teacher is a worthwhile exercise.
A chance encounter at the teacher-training session
The flyer that Ramesh’s older child got back from the school said, ‘Learn how teaching is done’. Thinking that the programme was all about helping parents teach their kids, Ramesh attended the session.
“I loved the half-day I spent there. I must mention that the team that works behind the scenes, the enthusiasm and the passion with which they speak about education will leave you pumped with energy and a willingness to give teaching a chance,” he says.
Even though Ramesh was convinced about the course, it took him an entire year to decide to go through with it.
He says, “It was always at the back of my mind, but it was only a year after I attended that half-day session that I enrolled for the ‘I Am Teacher’ course.”
As a filmmaker, Ramesh travelled extensively around India, covering various projects that the UNDP and UNICEF have funded. Most of these projects were around primary education, and that is when he started looking at education. “What works, what doesn’t – I’ve seen some amazing projects that have been pedagogically wonderful,” says Ramesh.
The formative years are extremely important for the kids. If one doesn’t get them hooked on to learning from that age, they are lost to the world of learning forever, he feels.
Having worked with government schools, he was keen on seeing what it would be like in private schools. He took a sabbatical for a year to see whether teaching would interest him and six months at being a teacher, after which he was confident that he made the right choice.
What does the course entail?
The course is a year-long programme, which attracts professionals from various walks of life. In a batch of 30 teacher-trainees, there were banking professionals, doctors, homemakers, filmmakers, and corporate workers. “This eclectic mix is what adds to the course. Each one brings so much to the table,” he says.
Ramesh says that he would recommend this course to those who are keen on teaching because it allows them the freedom to be in a classroom during the teacher-training course.
The trainee teacher gets to learn from a teacher and shadow the teacher for a while.
“We weren’t just theoretically learning about how kids should be taught. We were getting to teach and learn hands-on how to deal with children and teach them. You will notice a change over the one-year that you are a part of the course,” he says.
This course makes you a good student to enable you to become a good teacher, says Ramesh.
What this essentially means is allowing the children to experience things and learn, through various activities. Ramesh says, “Just after the Tsunami struck, many schools along the belt that was hit were rebuilding from scratch, and they chose to adopt this activity-based learning module. I was involved in creating these modules for classes 1 to 4, and that was a great learning opportunity for me as well.”
Schools that follow the philosophy of J Krishnamurthy and Mother fascinated Ramesh, and for his children, he was looking for a school that followed their ideals.
It was this search that led Ramesh to Heritage Xperieential School in Gurugram.
What keeps a teacher going?
For Ramesh, being able to bring his filmmaking experience, spanning two decades to the classroom is most valuable. “I started working with students of senior grades and mentored them to produce their very own video newsletter. The high that I felt seeing the final product was something else,” he says.
While teaching is a passion for him, Ramesh was sure that he did not want to give up on a skill that he had spent almost twenty plus years fine-tuning.
As we end our conversation, Ramesh urges anyone who might be interested in teaching to take the course. He says, “It’s one thing to be good at something but being trained in teaching adds so much more to what you can deliver.”
Passion is one thing, but teaching is a skill that one needs to learn, he says in conclusion.
If you find yourself drawn towards education, then do check out the details of the ‘I Am Teacher’ programme here.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)
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