I spent 15 years in the corporate world of finance, a highly competitive field where performance was key. The margins were huge in this business and everyone wanted a big slice of the pie. I experienced my annual appraisal as an exercise in ‘normalization’ as if I were being neatly boxed and categorized. There was space only for a few at the top, who got the lion’s share. So the work environment was one of comparing and devaluing others, in a hurry to get to the top. At the end of the day, all that people wanted was to win brownie points and be perceived as successful performers.
From the beginning this was quite disconcerting, having worked in a very open work environment in the United States for 4 years. Back in India, I was shocked to witness the reality that life was only about making money at the cost of quality and reducing people to a number. I still do not understand why I succumbed. Maybe I had joined the rat race and was not willing to give up. It took its toll though. I suffered from paralysis of my right side many years later.
I consider myself fortunate because I got the opportunity to turn my life around and set my priorities straight. I started reflecting upon and questioning everything including my own thoughts. I realized that in very subtle ways, my opinions and behaviours had started forming right from the time I was in school, wherein I got the first ‘lessons’ of life such as ‘fear authority’, ‘pretend’, ‘please people ’ and ‘I am not good enough’ to name a few.
After years of suffering, I was finally ready to put down all this baggage. I resolved to reach my highest expression and assist others in reaching theirs and what better place to start than at school? I was convinced that there was actually no structure in place to prepare our children and youth from falling in the trap I took so long to emerge from. So transforming the educational space was imperative, I felt.
A chance encounter with ‘I Am A Teacher’ (IAAT) Teacher Development Program in 2016, gave me the hope and encouragement that I needed to ‘be and lead the change’ I wished to see in our education space. I was happy to see a program which was designed to break our frameworks besides providing the training I needed to be a teacher.
It was extremely exciting to join this course and I have never looked back. The program got me head to head with my fears, apprehensions, physical constraints and mental blocks, which have started loosening their hold on me. As an IAAT Resident Teacher, I am accepted and celebrated for who I am – a unique individual. I am learning to be an educator who leads by example- transforming myself to reflect the transformation in children and my peers. A tall order, I know. But IAAT tells me, and I believe, “I can.”