Mr. Dhall: The Furthest from Dull

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Kelly M. Avila

Mr. Dhall, the new social studies teacher, makes the environment in Zoom meetings fun and energetic. He provides new perspectives and insight despite the barriers of online learning. “Distance learning is restrictive, but he overcomes it to the best of his abilities. Mr. Dhall’s classes are not a bore to be in. Plus, he’s pretty funny,” Luis Lopez, a senior, said.

Kelly M. Avila, Opinion Editor

By Kelly M Avila

 

MACES is a melting pot of different personalities and the teachers are a part of what makes it such a special school. Teachers here show evident passion when working with students. One teacher in particular, who shows eagerness for what he does, is Mr. Dhall, a twelfth grade social studies teacher. 

Adapting to a new country with different cultural customs and languages proves to be difficult for young immigrants, and Mr. Dhall had first-hand experience with this. At the young age of eight, his family immigrated from India to the United States. However, the cultural differences didn’t stop him from embracing a new home. “It was my experience with having kind teachers that motivated me to eventually pursue teaching as my career,” Dhall said. 

Growing up in the U.S. as an immigrant, Mr. Dhall’s teachers never made the effort to get to know his character or his struggles with school and learning, especially as a child who also battled with ADHD. This was his life up until 7th grade, when a teacher named Ms. Wilder made the effort to reach out and help him get organized, instilling in him a passion for reading. “As an adult, I realized [through volunteer experiences in tutoring] that I loved working with students and I wanted to be the ‘Ms. Wilder’’ for other students. Thus, I chose to pursue teaching,” Dhall said. 

Ms. Wilder wasn’t the only one who proved to be helpful. “In addition, I also had a mentor in high school named Mrs. Thomas who was very kind and went out of her way to help me get into college through advising and guiding me through the college application process.”

Those women reached out and lent a hand to Dhall. Their efforts not only helped immensely, but Dhall’s college education would be bright. Not only did Dhall graduate from Pepperdine University for his undergraduate degree in marketing and communications, but he also recently graduated from the Stanford Teacher Education Master’s Program. He pursued his Master’s degree in Education at Stanford for an apprenticeship education, and for the credentials to become a teacher. “I loved the experience, because my program was very social-justice-oriented. Thus, I really got to learn alongside colleagues who really cared about their students and the world.”

Clearly, working alongside people who show a passion for learning has followed him into his teaching career, specifically social studies. “I teach social studies because I love analyzing how, why, and what society is! I love the fact that in social studies students get to explore and analyze society and the many constructs we have around us. I also love that in social studies there are opportunities to engage students with current and real-world issues in order to create a generation of potential change-makers and justice advocates.”

MACES is lucky to hire a great teacher like Dhall, and vice-versa. Dhall said he decided to come to MACES, because it was during the interview process that he saw how passionate Mr. Duran and other staff were for the students. 

Some may disagree with him teaching at a public school considering his impressive educational background, and might even go as far as saying it’s a missed opportunity for better work. However, Dhall firmly disagrees with this saying, “A teacher’s heart is with their students. If your goal is to teach, then I truly believe the only opportunity that is out there is to work with students and help facilitate learning.”

Being a new teacher at a settled school takes a great amount of bravery. One of the newer teachers from last year, Ms. Arslan, knows this well. “When I heard we had hired a new teacher, I reached out to him because I am also still a relatively new teacher. I thought that having a buddy to navigate all the new teacher and lesson plan stuff would be a great relief. And it was!”

According to Ms. Arslan, they have a Zoom meeting every so often and share ideas, give constructive criticism, and lesson plan. “I love the perspective and fresh ideas he has about how to teach students in a way that will make sense to them, and how important it is that what we cover be relevant to students’ lives,” Arslan said. 

Evidently, Dhall’s first year officially teaching is proving to be a good one. “I love working with both the teachers and students at MACES. Everyone puts their best foot forward and is creative, humble, and most importantly kind. It makes my role as a first-year teacher much more manageable because people at MACES, both students and teachers, really try to cultivate a caring and intellectual community,” Dhall said.

Ms. Arslan wasn’t the only one with positive things to say about Mr. Dhall. Every student interviewed had the same response when asked if they liked the way Mr. Dhall teaches: Yes! They also all agree that the environment created in Zoom meetings are as equally a great learning environment as a comfortable one because his lessons are easy to understand and he breaks complex concepts down. 

In terms of being able to grasp the content being taught, Dhall seems to be doing a good job with his lessons, and making sure they’re relevant to today’s events. “Mr. Dhall is a very good teacher and his Zoom classes are fun and energetic. His lessons are simple and easy to grasp yet very informative. This year a lot of what he taught was very useful because he taught us about the branches of government and certain voter suppression tactics,” Kate De La Torre, senior Broadcast Editor, said.

Unfortunately, with the pandemic, there hasn’t been any real in-person meetings between the students and Mr. Dhall. His ability to show off his teaching skills to the full extent have not been hindered. “Distance learning is restrictive, but he overcomes it to the best of his abilities. Mr. Dhall’s classes are not a bore to be in. Plus, he’s pretty funny,” Luis Lopez, a senior, said. 

Dhall is regarded highly by students who have him for the first, and last, time.  “As a whole, despite Mr. Dhall being a new teacher, I am glad to have the opportunity to have him for a year at least. I know he will make an impact on many students this year and in future years. His San Fran Zoom background always manages to make me feel safe and prepared to learn… even though I may not do all the homework,”Maresa Mejia, a senior, said.

Despite the boundaries created by lack of in-person learning, Dhall understands the different situations that come with having to be in an online class. “Putting students’ needs first is the most important thing. I have learned to be flexible and lenient with timelines because I want my students to succeed. In addition, due to the issues with technology and access to Wi-Fi, I have learned to create work that is accessible to a variety of students, regardless of Wi-Fi quality. Finally, creating a community has been of paramount importance in my classes. Thus, I have tried hard to incorporate my students’ interests in my classes.”

Mr. Dhall is someone who took advantage of his educational opportunities and worked hard to grow as a person and an educator. No teacher is “just another person” and Dhall is the perfect example of that. “Mr. Dhall, if you’re reading this, I respect your commitment and attention to your craft. I chuckle at most of your dad jokes; [they’re]are impeccable. If it’s in the will of The Most High, we can meet up in person one day and talk about things not necessarily related to school,” Lopez said.