Teacher of the Month: Niki Singh Reply

You’re always surrounded by kids (family, school), where do you go to escape?
The hour-long subway ride to and from school is my escape, especially when I don’t have anything to grade.

What were you like as a teenager?
I always think of myself as being a goody-two-shoes, but I also remember  wanting to have a particular friend around because she NEVER got into trouble, whereas I always did.  I was in boarding school in India so the kinds of things that got us into trouble were feeding stray dogs and exploring the hills around. And going over the five minute limit on showers.

Did you ever rebel as a kid? How did your parents react?
My dad always told my sister and me that his job was to tell us what was  right but that in the end we could do whatever we wished.  My sister argued and fought.   I listened quietly and then did almost exactly what I wanted to do.  My sister, who loved art and history, went to business school and got an MBA and a series of boring but well paid jobs.  My career is (okay was;  I think he’s over it now) my father’s worst nightmare.

You’re one of the few teachers at BSGE who is a parent, what is that like?
Being a parent has changed my relationship with kids — and with their parents.  I’m kinder to parents and meaner to kids. I think I have higher expectations of kids. And lower expectations of myself about how much I plan and how quickly I grade.

You left for a period of time, how was it like to come back to BSGE?
It was interesting to be away, and great to be back.

Who was your hero when you were younger?
In school in India, we watched TV twice over a period of eight years: once, to watch Prince Charles and Diana’s wedding, and again for Indira Gandhi’s funeral. I was always curious about Mrs. G. So many people hated her so much but she just stayed and stayed (until she was killed, of course). I wouldn’t say she was my hero, but there was something pretty compelling about her. Maybe my aunt, who was an OB/Gyn, was a hero. She delivered babies in the mornings at a hospital, and did abortions at her home clinic in the afternoons. There was always something weird and delicious for dinner in her home because her patients were always dropping by to bring food. And she seemed to have such a good time just living.

How and where did your interest in English develop?
English the language?  The school subject? My sister likes to remind me that I refused to speak English at home because I said it sounded funny coming out of my mouth.

Did you always want to be an English teacher? Did you teach anywhere else before BSGE?
When I first started, I taught Math and Science at a school on the lower east side of Manhattan. A guy at the Board of Ed. told me it would be too difficult to get a job teaching English.

What are your plans for the future?
I’d like to go on a really long bike ride and be left behind by my kids.

Biggest achievement in your life so far?
Urgh. Can I skip this one?  There have been a few small achievements, but one big one?

Why do you chew ice? (Aly’s question)
I want to be cool like Aly?  There’s a whole body of mostly unscientific, anecdotal information on the web about ice-eaters. When I was pregnant for the second time, I remember finding a tray of stale, fuzzy ice in the freezer.  So maybe I’ll get over it.

How was life in India? How did you adjust moving to America?
America was very disappointing.  I was an automatic authority on math, monkey brains-eating, and hinduism.  I suppose I knew a little more Math than my peers but it wasn’t really what I wanted to be known for.

 What’s on your iPod/Playlist?
I wouldn’t say I’m religious, but you know, I realized recently that I tend to play religious music — Hindu, Sikh, Jewish. And Leonard Cohen and Cat Stevens, both of whom were deeply into religion for part of their lives. Hmmm.

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