A Chemistry teacher by profession, Bishakha has a Masters Degree in Organic Chemistry from Jadavpur University, Kolkata. She currently holds a dual role of being a faculty member of the Chemistry Department and coordinator of the senior school section at NPS-Indiranagar. Bishakha likes to indulge in writing prose and poetry alike, and also sketching, during her spare time.
“If a country is to be corruption-free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher.”
The above quote by late Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam rightly conveys the extremely important role teachers play in building a nation.
With thousands of schools already existing in India and many more mushrooming every year in every city, town or village of the country, can we thus safely say, that the future of India is in safe and sturdy hands?
Just like a good scientist, surgeon, author or architect, a good teacher is a rare gem - difficult to find.
Unlike the sad notion that we find in our country, teaching is not what anybody can do and it is definitely not the profession suited for just about any graduate with an education degree.
What is it then that makes Friedrich Froebel, Anne Sullivan, Savitrabai Phule, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and the other stalwarts so different from others and their contributions so notable and indelible in our minds? What is that one quality that differentiates them from us?
A lot has already been said and written about what goes into the making of a good teacher.
One might have been teaching for the past 20 years, or maybe even running a school for the same number of years, but would it mean that one has mastered the art of being a great teacher? As the number of years of experience pile up, there is an even bigger pile of complacency, ignorance, comfort and maybe even over-condence that grows within us and of which we are blissfully unaware of.
Let us revisit some pointers and be honest to ourselves when deciding whether we are on the right track or maybe need to change course. After all, our destination is the same - a bright and confident India – but we all have probably boarded the train from different stations.
The main objective of a good teacher should be to create an effective learning environment in the classroom. An efficient teacher is one who manages to teach children to love learning.
There should be a sense of mutual respect with the students. Often we hear teachers complain about the lack of respect from the present age students, but do we, in turn, respect their opinions, give a patient ear to their queries or appreciate them for their achievements?
A passion for the subject is undoubtedly somewhere at the top on the list of requirements to be a good teacher. The teacher should not only love her subject, but be abreast with up-to-date information about her subject and should be a professional reader. By professional reader, I mean reading up journals and other published work related to the subject and teaching methodologies. I am sure we all squeeze in some time to read works of fiction, our favorite magazines and of course the newspaper. But professional readers??
Ask yourself one simple question every morning before you begin a day at school -would you want to be a student in your class? Think about it.
A teacher should definitely have a positive outlook. Teaching is the greatest act of optimism. If we don’t believe in the slow learners of the class and take it upon ourselves to instil confidence in them, then who will?
A child may forget what you said in class but will always remember how you made him feel.
Great teachers should have a positive relationship with all other adults in the system-with fellow teachers, administrators and parents. This does not directly affect the child but is extremely important to build a safe and happy environment. Just because you have been doing something for many years and it works for you, it does not mean it works across other teachers, students and subjects. Respect and value others’ opinions and learn from mistakes and experiences.
Stimulating curiosity is another important duty of every teacher. Encourage students to ask questions and question answers. Relate uninteresting or difficult topics directly to your student interests.
It is imperative for a teacher to identify which age group you are most suited for. In most of the schools, as the number of years of experience go up, teachers are automatically shifted from middle school to high school to the higher secondary slot. A teacher can give her best with only one particular age group. Identify and nurture the talent.
No single teaching method or approach works best for every teacher with every student. If a child is not able to learn the way we teach, maybe it’s time we taught them the way they want to learn. A teacher should know the expert use of different instructional methods like mini lectures, interactive lectures, problem-based learning and many more.
Although the qualities that make great teachers are not easy to inculcate or duplicate, understanding these qualities can give all teachers a standard of excellence to strive for.
As Malala Yousafzai rightly said,” One book, one pen, one child and one teacher can change the world.” It is up to you to believe whether you are that teacher or not.
This article originally appeared in the TeacherTribe Magazine February 2021 edition.