I watch from a distance as my six-year-old daughter, just back from school, rearranges her room and turns it into a classroom. Then, she, all of 3 ft tall, strides around authoritatively, donning the role of her class teacher. Her stuffed toys are her students and she goes around reprimanding them and, at times, pacifying them. It amazes me as to how she skilfully captures every tiny nuance of her teacher and her actions.
Teachers influence a great part of our lives, right from the first day of school. Isn't it fascinating to see how your child, who created such a ruckus on the first day of school, adjusts so beautifully later?
For any child, who always had their family around, to suddenly be put into a whole new world of strangers is disturbing. And, it's here that teachers come into play. Making each and every child feel comfortable is not an easy task. But, they work at it patiently. They are the ones who assure you that your child will be taken care of well.
Sculptors that mould
When I see teachers I think of them as sculptors. Each child is like a mound of fresh clay. It's teachers who mould their young impressionable minds.
It is important for a teacher to build good rapport with his/her students. Each teacher has his/her own individualistic style. Some prefer to be strict and formal, while others like to be casual and relaxed. So, there's no one way in which a student-teacher relationship can be described.
A gnawing doubt in a student's mind is, "Does my teacher like me?" It is very important that a child feels wanted in the class. If your child doesn't like his/her teacher it will reflect in their academic performance and behaviour.
A teacher has to strike a balance between being friends and, at the same time, retain a level of respect. This way their control over their class is not lost.
It's all in the bond
We have all had our share of favourite teachers. But, what is it that singles out that one teacher over the rest? For me, it always had to do with the comfort level I shared with the teacher. Teachers have to be affable - not intimidating - to have a favourable equation with their students.
To comprehend the student-teacher relationship, let's look at three examples. To simplify it further, let's just change teachers with everything else staying constant.
Here's an example. Students of Grade 4 and their English teacher on first day of school:
- Mrs X enters the class and with a hurried introduction of herself she proceeds with chapter one from the textbook. She is extremely strict and rebuffs anyone who interrupts her teaching. At the end of the lesson, she gives an assignment to be completed the next day. Not the one to encourage a discussion, she makes it clear that her pupils take the help of reference books from the library.
- Mrs Y enters the class with a very bored expression on her face. Her introduction lacks energy. She calls out names from the attendance, never once taking her eyes off the register. She starts teaching the lesson, albeit resignedly — almost waiting for the class to end.
- Mrs Z enters the class with a cheery smile on her face. She greets the class enthusiastically. Giving a brief, but clear introduction of herself, she asks her students to do the same. At the end of it, she discusses her method of teaching with students and welcomes their suggestions. The entire time of lecture is spent in getting to know her students.
Teacher Mrs X, in the first example, is impersonal and rigid. She loves to be in command and she does not find it necessary to know her students.
The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.
- William Arthur Ward
Mrs Y is absolutely not interested in teaching, and just wants to get over with it. She wouldn't care less if students stopped paying attention to her.
Mrs Z is connected with her students in the first lecture itself. Her class is looked forward to by students. By interacting with her students individually, she shows she cares for their opinions too. She garners respect since she gives it too.
The influence of teaching deepens as a teacher's familiarity with students grows.
A good teacher must recognise the strengths and weaknesses of every child and work towards maximum productivity. S/he must make conscious efforts to be impartial and treat all uniformly. Refining and adjusting one's teaching technique ensures that students don't lose interest in the subject. Students who are happy in a class learn faster. It's a known fact that we make far greater efforts for teachers who we like.
Teachers are our mentors. And, life is a process of learning. We rely on our teachers for education, early in life.
Education is not only limited to books. To develop a child's all-round personality must be the aim of a good teacher.
The student-teacher relationship is not restricted to school only. College and university teachers also have an effect on our overall progress. It is apparent that students who have healthy interaction with school teachers stand a better chance of turning out into well-balanced individuals in life.
Let's recall Helen E Buckley's beautiful poem, The Little Boy, that talks about a little boy's first day in school.
The teacher tells students that they are going to draw flowers. The boy likes to draw flowers and he begins to make pretty ones with his crayons. But, the teacher asks them to stop and draws a flower on the blackboard, and asks them to copy the same. And, this goes on with a lot of other things that they do in class day-after-day.
Very soon, the boy stops making things of his own. Then the little boy's family moves into another city, and he joins another school. The teacher there has a different approach. She allows them to use their creativity freely.
The little boy asks her, "Aren't you going to draw it on the blackboard?" The teacher answers: "If everyone made the same picture, and used the same colours, how would I know, who made what? And, which was which?"
The boy is happy and likes his new school.
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