(Interview: Aarthi Krishnan, with Neha Gupta + Introduction by Smriti Prakash)
We all know our teachers to be superheroes. Or at the very least, a subpopulation of our species that survives with more responsibility, higher standards of expectation, and often ridiculously lesser appreciation than the rest of us mortals. Except an assembly on Teacher’s Day, a once in a decade birthday card from a student, and of course the practiced buttering received before PTC when do students actively think about and try to connect with their teachers?
It’s not exactly breaking news that teachers are some of our dearest role models. Neither would it take a psychologist to realize that the more you relate to your role models, the better you learn from them. Our teachers learn about us from hours spent marking papers, observing class behavior, writing heartfelt report cards. It’s not perfect, but they manage to understand literally hundreds of students every year. But how often do we try to learn about them in turn? Listen to their life stories? Take time off to find the people behind the superheroes?
Through the Revealing Clark Kent series, our team tries to take a step in that direction. Below is an interview with one of the most beloved duos in the NPSI family, Krittika ma’am and Neha ma’am. Middle school knows them as their awesome Drama/Dance and Chemistry teacher respectively. High school from their past classes and present active roles in every school event of the calendar year. Let’s all get to know them a little better…
Aarthi: So tell us a little bit about your friendship. How do you think the fact that both of you are teachers has helped you bond?
Neha ma’am: [laughs] Why are we doing this? I thought this was going to be about school matters.
Krittika ma’am: Ay, you be careful okay, we never know what might come out of this! No, but seriously, I think that because we’re both teachers, we kind of just get each other. We’re facing the same kind of problems, so we’re always able to motivate each other and find solutions to these problems together. I think that doesn’t just help us connect, it helps us become better teachers as well.
[Aarthi and Krittika ma’am look at Neha ma’am, waiting for her response]
Neha ma’am: Whatever she said.
Aarthi: So, do you think y’all are friends cause you’re of similar age?
[Neha ma’am and Krittika ma’am look at each other. Silent conversation takes place between them.]
Neha ma’am: Fiiine, you can say it, seeing as you love rubbing it in so much.
Krittika ma’am: [whispers] She’s older. [All laugh] Actually though, I don’t think our age has much to do with it. I mean I’m friends with a lot of older teachers as well. I think it’s more that our ideals match. Like I said, we somehow just connect with each other.
Aarthi: Mhm, I get that. So, moving on to more school related matters, what do you think is the best part of teaching?
Krittika ma’am: I think it’s very good for me, personally. I really need that constant interaction with people. So, compared to, say, a corporate job, I think teaching really allows you to have more of a social life, which is pretty important to me.
Neha ma’am: Also, there’s the fact that when it comes to teaching no two days are the same. Every day something happens that completely takes you by surprise. So, for example, the other day the two of us were discussing a particular batch and we were a bit disappointed in them. And then, while we were talking about this actually, a kid comes up to us and says he’s sorry. And that really stayed in my mind, you know, cause it was so unexpected, and his actions contradicted what we were saying right then.
Krittika ma’am: The great thing about teaching is that at the end of the day, there’s so much satisfaction. There’s so much that goes into this job, it’s exhausting, really, but the end product makes it worthwhile. So again, in corporate jobs you don’t see the result, the result is not individually oriented, but with teaching you can actually see the impact your work has.
Neha ma’am: It’s intimidating, actually, the fact that you can have an impact on so many people.
Krittika ma’am: Yeah, it’s definitely scary, because literally every word we say can impact people. I mean, even this interview, I have to be careful to ensure that I’m setting up a good example. I’m definitely different in and out of school.
Aarthi: Speaking of out of school, what do you guys do when you’re not in school? Do you travel?
[Further silent conversation between interviewees]
Krittika ma’am: [laughing] You wanna tell them? We have a trip coming up actually.
Neha ma’am: It’s, well, it’s- alright, we’ll tell you this much: it’s to Europe.
Krittika ma’am: No, we’re definitely big travelers. We have lots of great travelling memories.
Neha ma’am: There was this one, my favorite actually, the two of us were lying on the beach and we pretty much spent the night just lying there, talking about creepy stuff.
Aarthi: [laughing] Am I allowed to put this down?
Neha ma’am: Oh, yeah, yeah, people already know plenty of creepy stuff about us.
Aarthi: Alright, next question: how do you think you manage to get so close to your students?
Krittika ma’am: [smiling] I think it’s what Paras was talking about the other day: we’re really at the same mental level as you children. Honestly, I don’t think I can sustain a conversation with an adult as long as I can with children. I mean, we watch the same things as you guys, we use the same slang, we can really relate with you all.
Neha ma’am: Right, like there are so many shows we watch cause of you children, and ones that they watch cause of us. The other day, this child came up to me and asked for a list of documentaries he could watch. And when children value your opinion like that, you want to do things for them too. So, I’m ordinarily not a soccer or cricket fan at all, but, you know, the kids want to talk about it, they go crazy when the world cup comes, so I’ve ended up watching it too. And even if all that comes out of it is a two-minute conversation in the staircase, it’s worth it cause I know it’ll make a difference to them.
Aarthi: Alright, last question: what’s it like, getting used to a new batch?
Neha ma’am: I think the strangest thing is that they usually come with a lot of preconceived notions about us.
Krittika ma’am: Yesss, definitely. Every year, literally every single batch, we get the same question, [looks at Neha ma’am and they exclaim together] “Are you guys sisters?”
Neha ma’am: Every year. Sisters, cousins, we get it all.
Krittika ma’am: The other day, I was going with some IB kids for their CAS and this child kept following me around. Then he says ‘Neha ma’am’ and I realize he’s talking to me and I’m like, I mean, there’s this kid just calling me Neha ma’am to my face and it’s so ridiculous and I just- [splutters]
Neha ma’am: Now toh, when children ask I’ve started telling them yes, she’s my sister. Cousin, mother, brother, I’ve said it all.
Krittika ma’am: Haan she learnt it from me.
Neha ma’am: Please baba, you learnt it from me.
Krittika ma’am: You keep your mouth closed.
Aarthi: Alright then, I think that’s it for now. Thanks so much for all your candor.
Krittika ma’am: Anytime, don’t worry about it. Let us know if you need any more juice!