Published: 29th May 2017
This HOD at DMI Loyola is probably the best mentor cum friend an engineering student can ever get. Here's why!
Sheeba James, who heads the departments of IT and Computer Science jointly, was always strict. But her students didn’t end up hating her, after all! Read to know more
Strict teachers are a dime a dozen all over the world. But do they consider the impact that they have on their students? As a young engineering graduate, fresh in the teaching profession, Sheeba James was always strict with her students. Deep down, she believed that her students disliked her, and for obvious reasons. When Teachers’ Day came around, Sheeba thought to herself, “I’m not getting a gift.” After all, a strict teacher isn’t a student’s favourite person.
Oh, how wrong she was! What awaited her at the staff room was a small gift from her students with a special message. That was when she realised that her students actually liked her and that she had an impact on them. Things changed drastically after that. Almost a decade has passed since and Sheeba, who is now the Head of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and IT at DMI Loyola Institute of Technology, believes that every student has a different lesson to teach. Excerpts:
What prompted you to become a teacher in this day and age?
I come from a family of teachers. My parents were teachers and so are my siblings. My mother used to tutor school students in the evenings. From class X, I began helping her teach the younger children. So, in a way, I started teaching from the age of 15.
Rare combination: Sheeba James is an engineer outside and a teacher inside
Was teaching in a college any different from that?
Yes. In fact, I faced many problems. In the first batch I taught, none of the students spoke Tamil. I had no other option than to speak to them in English and I wasn’t very confident in the language. But I took it up as a challenge. I rehearsed lectures and revised lessons day and night. Slowly, I overcame this issue.
You seem to be the coordinator for many college events.
We have organised events in collaboration with many TV channels and radio stations. We also have an NSS and YRC in our college. I always encourage my students to participate in these activities. I firmly believe that social awareness and ethics should be moulded in students early on.
I can relate to the students and can organise things their way. Even now, I find myself reminiscing my college days while interacting with them
Sheeba James Head of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and IT at DMI Loyola Institute of Technology
How has the student community transformed over the past ten years?
A decade ago, students had a longer listening span and they didn’t raise too many questions because they paid attention and understood. They were obedient. But these days, students are easily distracted and hence it is our duty to encourage and motivate them to study. I used to be a very strict teacher. But that doesn’t fly these days. Students expect a friendly relationship with their teachers.
Is there a particular incident that touched you as a teacher?
One day, a student called me at 11.30 pm saying that her father was beating her. He mistook the monthly report card for the university results and thought that his daughter had failed. I made him understand. I felt good that the student turned to me for help. I was someone that she trusted and looked up to. A phone call once in a while or a testimonial is enough to cheer me up.