I teach science at a public high school in a southern California suburb. This is my third year of teaching and though not a veteran yet, you can say that I have mastered it quite a bit. But I thought I’d share with you some of my experiences as a brand new teacher. While on one hand they did not feel pleasant, especially at the time, on the other hand they are some of the most cherished experiences of my life as a devotee, as Master’s (my Guru, Paramhansa Yogananda’s) child.
Let me give you a little background about myself. I had very little experience of the school system in the U.S having completed K-12 in India. An American high school classroom felt very “foreign” to me; the teenage jargon, the dress code, the behavior, the attitude – I was at times completely overwhelmed! – not to mention the pressure to perform anew in front of a 40 member class audience five times a day and the need to come up with new lessons every day, five days a week! I was exhausted!
Also since I had opted for what is called the internship instead of traditional student-teaching, it meant I had no mentor or guide to lend me a helping hand. I was on my own. However I did have Master and Divine Mother by my side.
Our school has a strict electronic policy that students cannot use electronic devices in the classroom. One day, and this was probably within the first three months of my first year, I had confiscated the cell phone of a student who was using it in the class and kept it on my table. It had never crossed my mind that it is possible for my students, the 14-15 year olds, to steal! Yes, I was naïve as I soon found out to my horror! The cell phone was gone and I realized it right after the class got over. It was very embarrassing as a teacher! What am I going to do?
I remember visualizing holding Master’s hand for support; “Everything is fine” – I felt calmer and centered. I talked to another teacher and she advised talking to the class which I did the following day. I told them how deeply disappointed I am and why I do not expect such behavior from the class. At the end of the class two students quietly came up to me, after everyone else had left, and said “We know who took the phone!”
Eventually the thief confessed and the phone was returned to the owner. I quietly thanked Master.
Another time I had left my thumb drive on the desk computer in my classroom. Again something one should never do, as I learned very quickly. As it turned out I had to call sick the following day. When I finally returned the day after the thumb drive was gone! Now that thumb drive had not only all my lessons, power point presentations and files, it also had all my assignments that were due at the university where I was completing my teacher preparation course. Remember that was my year of internship which means I had to go back to the university to my student-teaching class every week and yes, all my homework and papers ready to be submitted to the State was in that thumb drive. And it did not have a back-up. I was lost! Also there was a little hub like connection in the classroom where the video player, CD player, computer and speakers were all interconnected and connected to the overhead projector. Someone had pulled out every cord out of every socket and everything was lying in a big meshed up pile on the floor!
I went to see my department head about this incidence. He said this happens. As teachers we happen to enrage teenagers who then take out their anger on us. He also told me not to take it personally and that he too has lost his zip drive in a similar way. I was grateful for his support and kind words. However even though I understood it all, I was panicking in my mind – “what will I do without my lessons and assignments?”
I didn’t think I had the time and energy to recreate the lost work again – something that is sure to take months. I didn’t have all that time. I returned to my classroom and closed my eyes and tried to meditate. I mentally gave my problem to Divine Mother. “Thy will Ma, thy will; and whatever that is, its ok with me.” I felt lighter and relaxed and started to get ready for the next class.
Later that same day, I got a call from my department head. He said he’s found a zip drive and wanted me to check if it was mine. As it turned out it was mine! He, while keeping an eye out for his lost drive, by chance, saw something zip drive-like lying on the roof of one of the classrooms. The science building being a two-storey building allows a view of the rooftops of surrounding single storey buildings. Some students(s) might have thrown the zip drive and it landed on the roof. The recovery felt miraculous and I felt so grateful, both to him and to Divine Mother, that words didn’t come easy to me. I prayed that he find his drive too.
There were so many similar incidences that first year as I went fumbling my way into the school system and every time I experienced the guiding, protecting hand of Master and Divine Mother. We devotees do have an umbrella, in form of Divine Mother’s love and guidance, to protect us from the storms of our karma. We might get a little wet but isn’t it wonderful to experience the umbrella around us? And I’m thankful for all the storms. Looking back, how else would I have experienced Divine Mother’s umbrella?