"What do you want to become when you grow up?" is a very regular question asked in a class.
"I want to become a teacher, like you!" is not an unusual answer to hear. But when I heard it for the first time, it not only gave me immense happiness, but also brought me to the realization that along with delivering the syllabus, the little eyes look up to me as their role model. Unconsciously, they will acquire my behavior and the way I deal with day to day situations. This was alarming as well as empowering.
Teaching is a profession that brings with itself rewards of affection and many learning experiences. Every teacher learns the usual lessons of patience, perseverance and hard work. Besides these, my experiences as a teacher taught me some very important lessons
1. Reach the students beyond the syllabus
There was this school where one house visit to every students' home, was a mandatory duty of the class teacher. On a house visit, the teacher would meet the parents and the child showed how he planned his day. The kids would then talk about their relatives, friends in the nearby area, play area, study area and a number of other things. Every time after a house visit, I noticed there used to be a remarkable change in the behaviour of the child. He became more responsible and his work improved. The difference came from the fact that his teacher now knew him beyond the classroom.
I started taking more interest in their hobbies, their life and their well being. Their homework and grades automatically improved. I learned that if I learn to care; they will care to learn.
2. It's OK not to have all the answers
During my first year of teaching, I used to rehearse every class that I had to face the next day with how I would deliver my lesson and the probable questions that the students would ask. But how much ever prepared I was, there would be a student who would ask a question; the answer to which I did not know. And as I got stuck, the whole class would be more attentive. The fact that their teacher did not know all answers amused them. But it also worked in my favor, as it changed my image to being a human rather than a computer. A trick helped me come out of the situation. I told them - "I am not sure of the answer. Let us all look for the right answer, and discuss it the next day in the class." This gave the students a new interest in learning. Being one with them was an important step in winning them.
3. If I speak softly, children are more attentive
There was an unmentionable number of students in my class. I wanted every child to concentrate on the topic that I had to teach. But they wanted to do everything besides listening to their teacher. There was an urge to shout at the top of my voice to quieten the class. But instead, I resorted to another method. I approached one child and whispered something in her ears. This drew the attention of many students. The two of us gestured them to be quiet in order to know what was said. This worked well, and in a matter of few minutes the whole class was quiet and wanted to know the secret. Once they were all quiet, some surprise event or a short story or a puzzle was disclosed to them. The softer I spoke, the quieter the students became in order to be able to listen to me (Of course I had to plan a lot, in order to create interesting questions, puzzles, stories, announcements and all).
4. Effective teachers do not teach
Whenever I carried a teaching aid to the school, students were more attentive. Even the simplest of the aid like leaves, rough and smooth objects, pieces of different fabrics do the trick. So, I carried these to the class as much as possible. The students should be made to feel that they are learning out of their own will. A very famous saying explains it all -"I hear I forget, I see I forget, I do, I always remember." If the right kind of environment is created; students will direct their learning.
Becoming an effective teacher calls for constant planning and tremendous hard work.
On this teacher's day, let us all get in touch with our own teachers and thank them (before encouraging our children to do so) for doing a wonderful job.
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