Yet another teacher’s day
But this time, the thanksgiving and love will be given and received virtually.
The elaborate plans which would otherwise start by mid August by the senior classes!!!!
All the hushed excitement, preparing for entertaining teachers, sometimes taking the class teacher of the organizing class into confidence. Both teachers and students will miss it this year.
Wishes have started pouring in and out. Last night, students of my previous school reached out to me requesting to record a video which they want to play as a surprise to their teachers, who are my friends. This underlines the fact that, even if the celebrations have shifted online, children will come up with unique ideas to make this day memorable for teachers. And that is like a salve for the wounds inflicted on teachers by the apathy of whomever that you want to assign a name and face to.
I have preserved the cards which I received from my students during my two decades of teaching. The raw emotions penned down in them are the best certificate of achievement and appreciation that you can ever receive as a teacher. You will be surprised by their observations about you. These written and verbal feedback have made me upgrade myself as a teacher.
When I stand side by side with myself throughout the years from 1997 till date, I am proud of what I have become and how my students have transformed me. So on this Teacher’s Day, I thank my students for being my teachers by polishing the rough edges and unlocking the hidden wealth within me .
What do they want from us? What makes them remember their teachers when they achieve something and send a fond message giving you a share of their fruits of labour?
I don’t have all the answers, but some, which my students have taught me. The younger ones are uncomplicated. They want your love and attention. But from the pre-teens and teens , you need to earn love and respect and it sure takes a lot of learning
The very first lesson I learnt is to be understanding.
There is a wide chasm which separates our times from theirs and hence it will be great to remember that we are living in their world. There is no point in guilt tripping them for loving PE period more than your subject, or wanting to visit the restroom or doodle when the lecture gets boring. Before you decide to give them a piece of your mind, given them a chance to explain why they did what they did and listen with open hearts. Sometimes the reasons will be indigestible to you, but logical and would make perfect sense to them. It took me 10 years to be an understanding teacher.
The second lesson is THE CONNECT
I do not have an exact definition for connect. But I can surely say that It is the bond between a teacher and her students which raises a teacher from being a transferor of knowledge to an influencer.
By establishing a connect, you can have even the toughest of the kids eating out of your hands.
If someone had told me, years down the lane I would be changing my music preference from Country and R&B and would be listening to Mindie Artists, Rap and K-Pop, watching or researching all Netflix shows which my students are talking about, showing up for basketball, football and handball matches, I would have told them that they are crazy. You don’t have to love or even like what the Generation Z is crazy about, but sometimes to find a common ground, you need to know the world which they inhabit.
Teaching is an ever evolving profession and by being rigid against the change, you will only be making School, a living Hell for yourselves and your students
I had a child who used to get good marks only in Chemistry, because we connected over his love for Art.
You can reach out to every one of them, but unfortunately, our system doesn’t bestow us with the time . But try and pay attention. Like a detective, listen to what they have to say. Notice things that they do and compliment .Give stickers and smileys. Remember, knowing your lesson plans is vital, but knowing your students makes them feel that they are important to you .
Third lesson is, Show that You CARE.
They need to know that you love and genuinely care about teaching. It should reflect in everything you do . You can have a bad day or two, but rest of the days, be the super hero that you are. Your ardor and energy is contagious and it will seep into them. Not only the energy part, but also what you teach them. They would come back to let you know what you taught them with passion is still there, unforgotten and that sure is a dedication.
Another great lesson is don’t ignore the BACK BENCHERS.
As teachers, we tend to give all our attention to those who actively participate in the class and the back benchers slip through the cracks. We label them as the ones who lack interest and concentrate our best efforts on the students who would give us results so that we can happily claim a share of the fruits of their labour.
Reach out to them. They may not learn what you teach, but they would know that you care and want them to make an effort .It will work wonders .It did for me and they are the ones who still keep in touch letting me know every mile stones they achieve and when they give me a share of the credit, that is when my heart bursts with pride.
Final Lesson, PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH
You are always being observed by your students. So be a positive role model. If you report late to school and show up late for your lectures you forfeit the right to advice them to be punctual. Being neatly dressed, speaking politely, reading during lunch break instead of sneaking a peak on your Instagram, are all accounted for.
Remember, it is your personal approach that creates the climate for a classroom and your daily mood the weather. You can humiliate or humour , hurt or heal.
If you ask a teen, there would not be even 1% who would wish to follow your footsteps and be a teacher . Reasons are many and you are not to blame.
Yet, by being there and enjoying what you do , you sure is going to be an integral part of their beautiful memories of school. And who knows , there would be one or two who wishes to be a TEACHER just like YOU.
I am Professor McGonagall to my students and I take that as a compliment.
Happy Teachers Day