Pandora’s Box-Redefining self image in our classrooms

Guest blog by Preeti Gangwani

This was one of the most inspiring lessons in my entire teaching experience.
The world feels that our work is mundane. People wonder how a teacher can teach the same concept year after year. I take pride when I say I’ve been lucky to spend the last seven years as a teacher with the same age group. How is my work challenging, you may ask? Simple math- I keep growing a year older each academic year, and the students I teach in Grade 4 come in the same age bracket. The gap widens each year.

Advertisements


My last few days have been spent understanding how children take to media as an integral part of their lives. My teaching revolved around it.
Under the TD theme “How we express ourselves,” we watched a video about the role of media in changing our perception. For example, how we click selfies at angles that allow us to hide ourselves.

Watching the video-

Dove- Redefine Beauty

Unexpected responses-

I always enjoy pausing to understand if children are following the video, especially videos with different accents. However, I didn’t know that this pause would lead to my whole lesson getting suspended. 

An otherwise shy student bared her heart and confessed that she had compared herself to the actors in a series on Netflix. I celebrated her honesty and courage to share something so personal.

Soon I saw many children raising their hands to share their experiences on the subject, and that was when I decided, “I’m not going to lead this lesson the way it was planned.” 

I’m blessed to work in an organization that gives me the freedom to unveil implied learning, sometimes in unusual ways.

My reasons of pausing were many:

  • I thought to myself, “I got my first blog content!” (Just kidding)
  • Making students write their reflections would allow the shy ones to open up their hearts & share things they don’t speak of otherwise (read my example below).
  • The greedy teacher in me wanted to re-read these reflections again and again.
  • I was serious about their more profound learning.

Opening Pandora’s Box on self image issues-

I’m glad I DID PAUSE, as this led to the opening of Pandora’s Box. The children shared their intimate fears about how they’d compared themselves to someone on social media. They had compared their heights, skin colour, hair colour, the structure of their teeth and many more physical attributes. 

Advertisements

While I was overwhelmed with what they shared, I thought this was a crucial lesson for me as an adult. I had questions in my mind:

  • Have I appreciated a child with curly hair?
  • Have I paid attention & sensitized my class to a visible birthmark?
  • Have I appreciated diversity in its true form in my class?

The discussion eventually meandered to the wide gap between how others perceive us and how we see ourselves. I, too, shared my childhood memory of how I wanted to have long, silky, shiny hair after watching a reputed shampoo ad. Their grins, smiles, and laughter told me they could relate to each word of my story. I asked them if they’d love me less if my hair looked different? Boom! Their realization was tangible. Together we unfolded the role of media in defining what’s beautiful to each of us.

While I’m sure they took back home some meaningful lessons, I also evolved as an adult. My shoulders carry the responsibility for celebrating each child’s uniqueness hidden behind their fears.

The icing on the cake was the surprise hug I got from a girl saying “This was the best class ever!” Just what a teacher wants to hear ALWAYS.

Poetic thoughts-

Had the curriculum not given us the flexibility

And I didn’t let the lesson plan go for a toss

We wouldn’t know the many boundaries

Together we could cross.

It’s only when our expectations dissolve,

Not just students, but the teachers too evolve.

Preeti Gangwani is an IB PYP educator who loves bringing real life connections into the classroom. She loves writing poems that capture the fun moments in life. Batman remains her favourite character and she truly believes in the power of magic. 

3 comments

  1. well written Preeti! These teachable moments are precious in a teacher’s life. It is so important to pause and grab these moments as it also leads to openness and trust between the teacher and his/her students.

    Like

  2. Wow, loved reading this & indeed so true! Am so grateful to know our youngsters have gems of teachers like you in the profession even today. So proud of you Preeti, your authentic touch & approach to make learning so enjoyable, keep going and creating magic in the many lives you touch today and everyday 🙂

    Like

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: