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Thirty two pairs of curious eyes followed me as I walked across the classroom on my first day of school. It was the middle of the term and I was taking the place of a teacher who had resigned. “Good morning, how are you feeling today?” I asked. The children seemed to be puzzled. Nevertheless, they answered “Fine ma’am, thank you.” I could see that they were exchanging glances, their eyes communicating in a language I could not fathom. Were they up to some trouble?
Since it was the first day I wasn't too keen on beginning a lesson. First, I needed to get to know them and make them feel comfortable. So with a smile, I started asking their names and things they liked. The tension in the air was palpable. Some of the kids didn't even look at me in the eye. Did they have trouble accepting me as their new teacher?
Things continued this way for a few more days though we were well into our Math lessons. I didn't give up hope. Then one day the unexpected happened.
“Akanksha!” I called out to a girl in my class.
“Yyyes ma’am…..ma’am I am sorry. Please ma’am. I will learn up.” She was trembling, her words reflecting some hidden fear.
“But what are you sorry for?” It was my turn to be confused.
She looked down without answering when a boy spoke up “Please don’t use that stick ma’am.”
I followed the boy’s gaze and saw a cane on the windowsill. I picked it up and threw it in the bin. “We don’t need this.” I smiled.
Suddenly the clouds of fear parted and I saw sunny faces. I was sure that the rest of the term would be full of fun and learning.