On Friday, we had PTM (Parent Teacher Meetings) at school for classes 5-8. On this day, the teachers wear saris and do an open house style meeting with the parents of the students. Each girl walks up to her teacher with her report card and her parent by her side. She then hands the teacher her report card, and the teacher proceeds to share her thoughts in Bangla, Hindi or English with the parent on how his or her child’s progression. I sat with one of the English teachers that I teach with. It was very interesting to compare how my students act in the classroom to how they act with their parents when their teachers are discussing their grades. I didn’t have too much to say to the parents. I usually just nodded knowingly when the teacher would say something like, “she talks a lot of in class” or “she needs to be reading for at least 10 minutes each night.”
As a teacher for classes 5-8, I decided that I would wear a sari too. I didn’t want to be left out. Plus, I promised that I would wear one for the next sari wearing occasion. I showed up to school in my normal everyday school attire and taught my morning ECA French class for the class 11 girls. However, I brought my sari and all the other elements (the blouse and the petticoat) so that the teachers could help me get dressed. So after French, I got dressed in the sick room. Everyone was so supportive, the teacher that dressed me lent me her watch ( I didn’t wear mine because it is clunky and dirty) and the nurse in the sick room lent me some bangles.
That afternoon, we had a special post-PTM lunch to bid farewell to a retiring teacher. After lunch, many of the teachers got up to sing, dance and read poetry as a tribute. I was encouraged to pay tribute through song and dance, as well. When it was first suggested that I get up, I tried to hide a little and be invisible so that they might forget that I was there. However I should know better, I’m never invisible here. The teacher who was retiring turned to me and said, “I would really like it if you did something. ” And I just adore her, so of course, that got me up. I stood up and hesitantly walked to the performance space in the middle of the staff room. I had nothing planned. The principal suggested that I do a jive. I don’t know how to jive. So I made everyone clap their hands (because I didn’t have music) and I just kind of spun around doing chainé and piqué turns and then improvised a few more things before I drew a blank and just ended in a curtsy. I thought it was over, but then I was encouraged to sing. I said I had a really bad voice, but I guess that wasn’t an issue or a concern for anyone. Now I won’t lie, I do enjoy singing for fun but its usually songs that I can dance around to. I once got a whole crowd dancing to my rendition of Love Shack at Pub St. Michel in Paris. Naturally all of the songs that I know by heart escaped my head at that moment and this didn’t seem like the occasion for Love Shack or any of my karaoke go tos. It was more of a ‘stand still and sing from the soul’ situation. So I sang the one song I like to think I can sing because I have a low voice (but I know I really can’t): “Unbreak My Heart” by Toni Braxton. By the time I got to the chorus, people were joining in. I don’t know if the song was appropriate for a teacher retiring, but people clapped. After being at school for a month, I have come to the conclusion that 1) an ETA should always have one or two songs that they know by heart and can sing decently well at the ready 2) an ETA that is a dancer or a former dancer should always have three eight-counts at the ready for spontaneous teaching and/or performance situations.
( Really, I don’t know what I was thinking, this is a song for people that can SING, true divas, if you will).