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Connecting With Mariyam

That Mariyam had severe behavioural issues was painfully evident. Stories of her beating up other children and dominating over the whole class were spoken in hushed tones. I noticed that she was challenging my authority as her teacher in the classroom. All my efforts to bring a change in her behaviour went down the drain. Having exhausted all my options, I decided to seek the help of the Principal. In class the next day, I found she was less aggressive and rather more cordial with her classmates. 

I could scarcely believe the drastic change in her personality; so I discreetly observed her interactions with other students. To my surprise, I discovered a body language in stark contrast to that of yesterday. She did not push or shove any other student and worked well in the class. Her academic performance had always been good and was only improving now.
To make her feel appreciated, and to get more comfortable with her, I decided to take her and her classmate Gauri to a field trip along with me. On the way to the destination, the two of them read story books I had brought along for them. We sat together in the auditorium and Mariyam got to know about my fondness for music among other things. I learned more about her family. I thought that the plan had worked. 

And yet, of late Mariyam had been behaving a little strangely in the class. She wouldn’t speak much. She isolated herself from her original group of friends and participated only when asked to. I thought it was a clear case of not getting enough opportunities to display her leadership skills. So I gave her a strong role to play; I told her to play my role in the class for an entire period, by writing down questions on the blackboard, modelling how to solve them, keeping an eye on the troublemakers, picking students at random to answer, and then verifying their answers. That put a smile on her face and she looked instantly gratified.
I guess, some students just need a little extra push and attention. 

We have eight different teams in our class and each one gets managed by a team leader. The team leader gets changed every week, and this week Mariyam is leading her team. I am hoping this would boost her morale and increase her involvement in the class. It is difficult to understand why a child acts in a certain way. But once you understand the WHY, you know exactly WHAT to do.

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Pranav Sukhija
Teacher of primary school children, counselor for many, perpetual thinker, voracious writer, avid (not greedy) reader, crazy dancer, joyful singer, wannabe guitarist, wannabe actor, wannabe chef, comfort food lover, nature lover, self-proclaimed photographer, ingenious explorer, Delhi boy who doesn't fulfill most of the assumed 'typical' Delhi boy qualities.


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