Revathi Balakrishnan Inspires Future Indian American Teachers

Revathi Balakrishnan Inspires Future Indian American Teachers

Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year 2016, Revathi Balakrishnan, is happy to make the Indian American community proud! By Taniya Talukdar
Revathi Balakrishnan Inspires Future Indian American Teachers

Revathi Balakrishnan is a talented and gifted specialist at Patsy Sommer Elementary in Austin, Texas. She was recently chosen as the 2016 Texas Teacher of the Year, representing 330,000 teachers at the national level. Revathi believes in rigor and relevance in the classroom, building resilience in students and in creating a working relationship with students that is based on trust and respect.

After being named the 2016 Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year, Revathi Balakrishnan continued to make news as she was also honored by President Barack Obama at a White House function. In discussing the recognition she received, Revathi says, “It feels great as it caters to the American dream that anyone who puts in the hard work and effort will get rewarded.” She adds, “I think the Indian American community too is happy that one of their own is being recognized in this manner. I am hoping that my success will spur younger Indian Americans to choose teaching as a profession. However, the reaction of the people in education back in India is what surprised me the most. I never expected this to be a big deal there, especially since I am relatively unknown.”

Having been honored alongside many other deserving teachers, Revathi feels that being an Indian had a lot to do with this achievement. “I remember my school days when teachers and students had very few resources at their

disposal, but somehow we made education work,” reminisces the teacher. She adds, “I try to use very few materials in my classrooms, with most of the learning coming from high-level discussions. I teach students how to re-use, recycle and conserve. I think that we can flood a place with resources, but if we do not train the teachers to use them, those resources are of no use.”

Apart from inspiring young Indian Americans to become teachers, Revathi also urges parents to nurture their children in the best way possible. “I know that Indian American parents mean well for their children and want to provide the best. But, it is important to allow your child to be independent and take responsibility for their work,” insists the award-winning teacher. She also says, “Don’t stress on grades too much, especially in elementary school, since it stifles risk-taking and free thinking. Allow them some free time to let their imagination develop. If you want your child to be creative, give him or her free time without any guidance

so that it helps grow their curiosity.”

From a systems analyst to a teacher honored by the American President, Revathi has come a long way. It is her love for teaching that made her undergo the transition nine years ago. “I enjoyed being a systems analyst, but I also knew that I was a good teacher, based on the feedback from my days as a graduate assistant at Northeastern University. So, when it was time to change careers, I chose to go into teaching and I have never regretted this decision,” informs Revathi with a smile.

Revathi’s journey as a teacher has been a satisfactory and fruitful one. She signs off saying, “I have come a long way. Every year, I have learned something new. I set myself new goals so that I never stop learning. I try out new ideas in my classroom, knowing fully well that not all of them are going to be successful. To all the new teachers out there, it is always better to ask questions of your teammates rather than to sit quietly.”

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