The joys of teaching

03 January 2020

Rotary Club celebrates a Diamond Jubilee High School, Hyderabad teacher.

Which student hasn’t had that day in class, when they just don’t get it? Mrs. Naga Lakshmi certainly did, and those moments shaped her future success.

“When we didn’t understand something, Ms. Vidyasree would take it as a personal challenge to teach us,” says Mrs. Lakshmi. “She was very loving and affectionate.” The care and guidance that she received from Ms Vidyasree and other teachers like her during the tough times is what inspired Mrs Lakshmi to become a teacher.

After 25 years of teaching at the Diamond Jubilee High School in Hyderabad, Mrs. Lakshmi won the Best Teacher Award by Rotary Club for contributing best practices and creative classroom activities to the learning of language, and guiding a remarkable 88 per cent of her students to distinction. 

“Telegu is a challenging subject to teach,” says Mrs. Lakshmi. Hyderabad is the capital of Telengana, and Telegu is the official regional language. But Hyderabad itself is a diverse city where people speak many languages, including Hindi and Urdu. 

Moreover Telegu is of a different family from Hindi or Urdu, and bears little resemblance to either. Within Hyderabad, Telegu is less widely used than Hindi/Urdu and English, so students who do not speak it natively find it difficult to stay motivated to learn. 

The Aga Khan Education Service, India uses a one-year bridging program to catch foreign language speakers up with advanced learners. “After one year, they are learning and writing easily,” says Mrs. Lakshmi.

Learning a language is difficult, and making it easy takes work on the part of the teacher. “I curate different activities, so children can learn more successfully.” The activities don’t always work for all students, but Mrs. Lakshmi stops at nothing. Like her own teachers, she takes feels responsible for her students, and puts in extra time to help them one on one. 

“She’s my favourite teacher,” says Afeefa Hussaini, who speaks Urdu at home. “Every student is inspired by her.” 
Afeefa has been studying Telegu with Mrs. Lakshmi for three years. “When I was in class three and four, I did not speak a word of Telegu, but now I have improved a lot.” Afeefa says she can use Telegu perfectly when she interacts with native speakers in her neighbourhood.

It probably helps that Mrs. Lakshmi’s lessons deal with situations that students are likely to encounter in real life. Ronak Dadwani recalls that when Mrs. Lakshmi taught the meaning of “honesty,” she did so through a discussion on what it means to be honest in life. The lesson on language also turned out to be a discussion on ethics. 
Reflecting on her wealth of experience, Mrs Lakshmi said, “this is a challenging profession, but whatever the support or motivation we want, the school management provides that for us. That helps makes me successful.”

At 52 Mrs. Lakshmi has seven years before she must retire. “If God permits, I would like to continue teaching for as long as possible.”