In my workplace where I worked for the last 1.5 years, we had an office boy named Shahbaz whom I decided to teach soon after joining. He is 18 and very hardworking. He became a good friend of mine and would come and tell me the latest news in office. I taught him how to beat the other guys in Table Tennis too.
With the help of my sister Nataliya’s contributions, we bought a lot of books for him and I took out at least a few minutes every day in office to teach him English, Urdu and Math. A work day consists of 9 hours. So if you manage your time well, you have time to finish all your work and still spare a little time each day doing something that will actually make a difference in the society and at the same time feel purposeful. Even now from Canada, I am in touch with him on Whatsapp Audio messages and I am continuing teaching him. I give him topics to write essays and he writes them and sends me pictures to check them. Following is the post I published on our company’s social media on him:
Who to teach
The first question is who to teach. I would say that we start with our household staff or office staff. I feel very strongly that it is our responsibility to teach our household/office staff who spend their days making our lives easier. It is also convenient for us to fit them in our busy schedules with just a bit of time management.
- Take out time and teach them yourself
- Hire a tutor who would teach them on your behalf
- Even if you’re not in the same city, there is an option to teach them on Whatsapp (audio messages, YouTube video links, and pictures and videos)
12 Tips for Teaching your household/office staff
A lot of my readers asked me tips to teach their staff. I will just tell you how I managed teaching him and our helpers at home in Lahore and Islamabad. You might get some ideas from these points and start teaching your household staff too. This way, we all can contribute a little to our society. Ramzan is the perfect time to start this cause for all those who haven’t started it yet.
1. Be Motivated
The first and most important thing is the determination as it is not easy and you have to keep getting after them to bring their books. Ninety percent are really not interested so you have to drive/push them constantly. Till you are really motivated and eager to teach your staff, you will not be able to follow through. Before starting, know that you have to be determined and it isn’t easy. Remember you will need a lot of patience!
Part of my drive to teach my office boy was that I have done physical labor jobs and know how draining they are. It saddens me to think that most of office boys would spend their entire life doing the same type of jobs. My motivation is that I want to make a little difference in their lives. My ultimate goal and prayer is to get them qualified for a desk job one day (typist or something similar) so no one will be able to exploit him. He is really slim and as tall as I am. It hurts me to see him carrying big boxes and how he is made to run around despite his back issues.
2. Buy them the right books, note books & stationary
You will have to decide after sitting with them what level they’re at. You don’t have to get the most expensive books. I always prefer local over imported. I would like to recommend the following book series:
- Good Character, Young reader’s read and shine.
- Ph: 36623489
- Cell: 03009292426
All these books encourage a good habit (Be forgiving, be honest, Be polite, Be obedient, Be fit, Be friendly, Be responsible, Be kind, Be safe, Be a team player and Be brave). I bought some of these books from T Block market in DHA Lahore, Phase 2. You can call up and check where else these books are available. So worth buying!
3. Let’s make their lives easier
The aim of teaching someone is to make their lives easier. So try to think of what you can teach them which would actually help them. My goal was to teach Shahbaz so well that he is able to write an application to the boss stating that he is sick and won’t be able to come to work. Or be able to write letters to his dad who lived far away. Or teach him how to read, write and spell sign boards which he would see on the road.
4. Alphabets & Phonics
Starting with the basics is the most important. Capital ABC, Small ABC, Numbers and Urdu alphabets are most important (even if they say they know it) followed by lessons on sounds of alphabets (phonics). Sounds lesson is probably the most important as that is the basis of all spellings and studies. This lesson will need to be repeated often to make sure they don’t forget.
5. Joining sounds
Once you have taught the phonics, the most important lesson is how to connect alphabets together to make words by joining their sounds. Most people find this step the most difficult. So it needs constant dedication and try to be very very patient. Don’t get angry even if you feel like hitting your head against the wall!
6. A for, B for, C for
Then I would make him write one alphabet in each line with 6 columns in front of it (in both English and Urdu). Then I would ask him to write 6 words starting with each alphabet.
7. Listing excercises
I made him write a lot of lists and gave him assignments which he was asked to work on during his free times. Each exercise was for him to write in English as well as Urdu. Exercises like write down lists of:
- Days of the week
- Months of the year
- Names of family members & office colleagues
8. Recognising exercise
In the middle of the page, I would draw something and ask him to write its name in English and Urdu on the same line.
9. Essay writing
I made him write a lot of essays in English & Urdu.
- On yourself
- On your family
- On your home town
- On Pakistan
- On your favourite sport
- On your best friend
- On your work experience
- Write about your typical day in life
10. Let’s converse
Made him write everyday conversations in both English and Urdu.
11. Deeper conversations
Taught him a bit about life and tried to make him think about important matters such as the following:
- How can you make Pakistan a better place to live?
- Why should we save up money every month?
- How can we make Pakistan a cleaner country?
- If someone is being mean to you, what should you do?
- Why is it important to respect our parents?
- What is important in order to become a good human being
- How can we become better muslims
- What are the main 5 pillars of Islam
- What are the best habits in a human being?
In math, after writing down counting till 100, I taught him addition, subtraction, division and multiplication. After that I taught him tables.
13. English only!
The most important part of educating him was that I only talked to him in English. I had asked him to only speak to me in English. He was already fluent in Urdu so in order for him to learn the language, it was really important for us to talk only in English.
Exploitation of office boys at work
Due to his friendly and sweet nature, Shahbaz was constantly exploited by colleagues at work. Many times people in office, especially those who have been lucky enough to reach managerial levels, forget how to behave with those who are not as lucky as we are. They start mistreating people who are below certain level of their defined standards.
Shahbaz and I developed a bond as he came to me for help whenever he had had enough. I tried my best to help him out. I even spoke out/sent emails across company for his rights and I know that infuriated many of my colleagues and department heads. Till the time that I was in charge of admin in my branch, I made sure he wasn’t exploited. I made rules such as he can only go to the market if there is an official need. I tried to minimize his trips to the market to 2-3 in a week.
However I had to give up admin tasks after some months as Marketing Manager responsibilities didn’t allow me to handle admin too. After that, his real problems started as he was being sent to the market by office staff every single day at least 2-4 times. That too for their personal things. He became pretty miserable. I tried to help him by talking to those concerned. I also kept educating him about his rights. I told him not to be extra nice to people who don’t respect you.
Sharing my story
I told him the story of how at 23 years, in my first job in London, I was extra hardworking and completed all my supervisors orders well before time. When they saw that I was over efficient and did whatever they asked me to do, they treated me like dirt, yelled at me and made me do their tasks too. I kept doing their work too out of courtesy but felt miserable and cried secretly. One day I realised all this is wrong! They were never going to realise any goodness in me! I was breaking my back and killing myself for nothing! So one day, I mustered up some courage said to one of them assertively “I will only do my tasks and not do anyone else’s. It’s not my responsibility!” I made sure my tone was to make my point clear. They were shocked! Never again did any of my supervisors shout at me or be nasty with me.
Shahbaz seemed encouraged! I told him he can tell the guys that its not his job to go and get their personal stuff from the market so many times a day. It’s just not fair! In life if you are too humble and obedient, people try to walk all over you. So you have to know your rights and know when to pleasantly say ‘No’! This is one of the most important lessons that workplaces teach us about life! I’m so glad my first ever job taught me that perfectly. Now I don’t let anyone mistreat me!
Let’s help him out
Shahbaz was laid off as office branch closed down recently. Currently he unemployed and is eagerly looking for a job. If you are in Lahore and require an office boy/helper please get in touch with me so I can share his details. I would fully recommend him as he is very hardworking, intelligent, loyal and has great work ethics. He has work experience of ward boy in National hospital and office boy at Pehchan (NGO) and BroadPeak Technologies. I will be looking forward to your messages in case you have a good workplace for him in mind. He has been such a brilliant student and can now easily write essays both in English and Urdu. I am so proud of him. Thanks for stopping by! All the best.