Hi, Auntie! – Bernard Poole – India 2006

Hi, Auntie! – Bernard Poole – India 2006

S A T U R D A Y , A P R I L 2 1 , 2 0 0 7

Hi, Auntie!

This is cute. Every day when I walk into my class, I start out by giving my laptop and projector to a couple of the students (I call them my “technologistes du jour”) and they set up my computer and projection system, while I chat with other students before the class begins.

I have always believed in the Montessorian philosophy of education where the teacher wants the students to be actively engaged in everything that goes on in class. Montessori even went so far as to say: “The greatest sign of success for a teacher is to be able to say, ‘The children are now working as if I did not exist.’ ”

So the students in my one team of “technologistes” busy themselves taking my laptop, the power cable, the mouse and mouse pad and the power strip out of the case, and setting it all up, while another team takes everything out of the projector case, connects the two cables—one to the power source and the other to the laptop—turns the projector on and, when it’s warmed up, aligns it to the screen that another team, ahead of time, has brought to the lecture hall from a storage room. The students in the laptop team know that they have to wait for the projection team to get powered up before turning on the laptop so that the laptop can “recognize” the signal from the projector as it goes through the boot process.

Voilà! We’re ready to go. As it happens, on the desktop/background of my laptop I have a picture of my wife, Marilyn.

It fills the screen. So when the machines fire up, there she is there, large as life, smiling down on the class.

One day, I overheard one of the students call her “Auntie.” Only then did it occur to me that, just as they sometimes call me “uncle”—a term of respect for an older man in India—so “Auntie” would be the corresponding term of respect for my wife.

Now every morning, when Marilyn’s picture comes up on the screen, I tell everyone to say “Hi, Auntie!” And they do; and they wave to her; and I think it’s sweet; and I hope you do, too.

Little things mean a lot, in teaching and learning as much as in any other facet of life.

You might say that it’s a multitude of little things that make the world go around. Making a connection with students is crucial to success as a teacher and I’ve always grasped at every opportunity to let my students know that I care about them and want them to benefit as much as possible from the experience of being in my class.

If the technology helps me make them feel that they are part of my family, so much the better.

Bernard Poole – Fulbright to India 2006

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