Our teachers have always influenced us - some made us love them with all our hearts, while some, we couldn't come to love at all. September being the month when we honour our teachers, I sat down to think what it is that makes us adore and idolise them. How does a normal human turn into a superman or woman who is always right? [Well, almost always!] When does a person become more important than a parent, to hundreds of children?
My teaching experience of over ten years has taught me a few important lessons which, I feel, if kept in mind by a teacher, can really make her rock.
For the sake of convenience, I have used the feminine gender for the teacher and have assumed the student to be a male.
Creating the right learning environment
This one's a primary need. Whatever one's depth of knowledge or level of commitment may be, the ingenuity to capture the attention of the class undoubtedly remains the most wanted quality in a teacher. Singing, dancing, acting, posing real life scenarios, one has to do them all for the sake of one's students. Just like Gail Godwin has said, "Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths pure theatre." This has to keep changing with each lesson to reach out to different kinds of learners. Finally, a good sense of humour can not only make a class interesting, but also dissipate anger and irritation. So, one should make good use of it.
Kids of almost all ages have a habit of sharing their day to day experiences with their teacher [Her approval matters after all!]. Sometimes it becomes difficult to be a good listener due to paucity of time. But instead of worrying about doing an extra language exercise, if one lets the kid indulge even in some useless banter, it can become a great way to practise conversation. A six-year-old who comes with stars in his eyes to tell his teacher about his dad's birthday and goes back with "Did you make a card for him?" and "You must wish him on my behalf" turns out to be happier than the one who is told not to disturb as the teacher is busy. If you make another's day, yours can't be bad either.
Polishing their skills
Each and every child is good at something. Whether he is good or not at English, Hindi, Science and Math, is immaterial. It is up to the teacher to identify and hone a child's skills, keep his morale high, self-esteem elevated and get him to improve from whichever rung of the ladder he stands.
An appropriate temperament
Couldn't get through a certain competition? Never mind, teaching is always an option. A lot of youngsters, especially girls think this way. In fact, they are encouraged to do so since teaching jobs are considered to provide a safe working environment for women and also give them the freedom to spend more time at home. Little do people realise that it is young impressionable minds and the future of the nation that is at stake here.
Like all other professions, teaching also requires a fair amount of passion. Though the skills needed here are slightly different, they can certainly be cultivated. A good teachers' training program only gets one ready to learn to teach. The commitment, dedication, focus and dexterity have to come from within, and be worked upon. A quintessential knack to deal with students and a generous helping of patience don't go amiss either.
A role model
A teacher's behaviour has to be such that her students look up to her. She not only has to be fair and impartial, but also appear to be so to her students. She requires to have a smiling countenance and a kind nature to forgive her students' faults, while cajoling them to improve themselves each time. Keeping her temper under control, being tolerant and patient, and respecting her students for what they are will definitely win her love from her students.
Loads of love
Love really conquers all, and most definitely a clear-hearted child who comes to school everyday with a lot of faith and belief in his teacher. Trust me; it is much easier winning over young hearts with love, than by instilling fear in their minds. Statements like "Don't you do this or else..." should be replaced by "Wouldn't it be better if you did it this way?" It is also ideal to spell out one's expectations in the beginning and then guide the children through the good and bad repercussions of their behaviour.
For a teacher to create a soft corner in her students' hearts, she has to be caring and concerned of her student's well-being when in class and even after that. Enquiring about a sick child's health during his absence from school and giving him a call can make him feel very special indeed. Simply a "Get well soon" or "Miss you" card made by classmates or one sent by the teacher can perk up a sick child.
It is always the brighter lot which ends up interacting more with the teacher in class, or otherwise. To make the rest of them feel loved and wanted, one has to involve them in class activities. They need to be given tasks and responsibilities which make them feel important and boost their self-esteem. When a teacher calls out a typically quiet child by his name and makes him run an errand, the feeling of elation that the child gets by being known and remembered by the teacher, is unbeaten. Collecting and distributing note books in class, erasing the board and taking messages to teachers, though seemingly insipid, are tasks that can keep a primary and middle school kid's spirits high.
The parent-teacher bridge
Parents and teachers together play a vital role in the growth and development of a kid. The kind of interaction that a teacher has with a child may bring to her notice certain things about him, which may be missed by a parent. A very common problem of not being able to read the board, if taken seriously by a teacher can nip a lot of eyesight problems in the bud. Then there are bigger issues like dyslexia and ADD [Attention-Deficit Disorder], which noted early, can make life much easier.
Some things about a child are only known to his parent. For instance, it is the parent who can unravel the reason behind her ten-year-old's aversion for Math, in which he had failed in the subject in his previous school. So, the more a teacher interacts with a child's parent, the better she is able to understand the child and the deeper her involvement with him.
Above all, when parents and teachers meet, they find out what works for others and get the encouragement to believe that it can work for them too.
The right teaching environment
For working effectively, one needs to keep the work environment stress-free. It's good to accept one's colleagues as equals, respect the opinion of others and listen to the more experienced lot, irrespective of whether they have served in the institution for a long time, or are newly employed. One also has to be strong enough not to buckle under pressure of unwanted and uncalled for bickering and scheming that goes on in a lot of places and keep one's focus on the students.
Everything that I've mentioned above may be difficult for a teacher to enforce if her workplace does not support her healthy ideals and give her the independence to voice her opinion and bring about positive changes. Ideally, the head of the institution should keep the students' and the teachers' welfare in mind and not work towards pleasing just the parents. Things work out well if the boss is unbiased, understanding and open to talks. They work out even better if the colleagues are supportive and not jealous or devious. One really needs to look out for a workplace with a healthy working environment to be a happy teacher who is liked by one and all.
Kids have their say
This is what some kids had to say about their favourite teacher:
- Nandini, 7, is crazy about her teacher because, "She loves us a lot and makes studies a lot of fun. While teaching, she uses actions and tells us many jokes."
- Zarif, 9, finds his teacher "kind and helpful."
- Malik, 12, feels that his teacher takes genuine interest in her students' welfare. He says, "She doesn't shout at us when we make a mistake or don't measure up, but explains things nicely. She also conducts the class in an interesting manner."
- Harjot and Arjun, 18, find their favourite teacher to be one who "Gets down to our level and understands us instead of thinking like an adult." She is also "unpretentious and relates a lot of stories and day-to-day examples to make the class interesting."
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