Sunday, July 8

Simple Yet Significant: Birthdays

The First Batch: Dont look like much but smells good, tastes good &, most importantly,  students love it.
     I am always on the lookout for simple solutions to complex problems. Not because I'm lazy but because I want to be effective & efficient. I also realise that when it comes to people, complex problems require a combination of simple solutions.
     Are you a popular teacher: liked by many but followed by none? Are you a dreaded teacher: liked by none but followed by many? Is it possible to have the best of both worlds? I believe it is. One is only limited to one's imagination.

     I am a firm believer of Karmic law: reaping what I sow or investing for long term returns. As a Chief Warden, I constantly depend on the students to get things done: cleaning, gardening, studying, not destroying anything, et cetera. When a command exits a teacher's mouth, its ability to influence compliance can be measured by his/her ability to 'pull'.

     I can pull with threats of punishment. I can pull with promises of rewards. Both leaning heavily on how intense the punishment or reward & the credibility to execute.
     Another way is to pull their heart strings by pre-investing in them with no strings attached. How hypocritical! But, it's the best way to pull!

    Find a way that bypasses all defences & strikes right at the heart. One of the ways I gather 'pull' (like a resource) is by appreciating the students for what they are & what they have added to me. If you want to be appreciated, you need to appreciate your target FIRST.

     In my situation, I do this is by celebrating the constantly overlooked single most significant day in the lives of my students: birthdays.
     They live away from their families. They are mostly from the low-income group. They need love & attention. Nobody celebrates birthdays in the school.

     I saw an opportunity & I took it. Since February this year, I have been celebrating birthdays with my students once every fortnight. I gather them together according to birthday month & paid a member of the staff to bake simple RM2 cupcakes for each of them.

     We have around 450 students so it will cost me RM900 to celebrate all their birthdays. It might seem like a large sum of money but it's worth it. It equals 450 memories, 450 feeling that somebody remembers them, 450 lives touched &, hopefully, 450 lives transformed. If you want to get mathy, I spend RM2 to celebrate 1 day & motivate them to work for me for 365 days. On top of that, they have to satisfy my every whim & fancy on any of those 365 days. How is that for a return on investment?

     The celebrations are short & sweet. I gather them in the hall after the final self-study session at night. I distribute the cakes. I give a speech about how important they are to me & how I want them to be better than they were last year. We light the candles, sing, make a wish/prayer & blow out the candles at the count of 3.

November Babies
December Babies
January Babies
February Babies
March Babies
April Babies
     Like I said, simple yet significant. Anyone could do it. But why didn't anyone do it before?
     As an effect of a combination of such simple solutions, the students are ever increasingly under my 'pull'. I believe every teacher needs 'pull'. If the students are not drawn to you, they will not listen to you nor will they want to learn anything from you.
     I am constantly seeking simple yet significant ways to achieve my goals at school. Perhaps there is something similar you could do at your school/workplace?

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