The ‘smart’ teacher

Good educators are not determined by their race, qualifications or personality, but by their willingness to strive for the best of themselves.

DEEPAVALI was celebrated a few days ago. This festival of lights never fails to remind me of how much teachers should live up to the fact that they are called guru.

Befitting its Sanskrit meaning, a guru, like the deepam (light) is a “remover of darkness”. Therefore, teachers should enlighten.

Recently, I received three e-mails from a group of teachers undergoing their postgraduate diploma in teaching at a local university.

I had given them a talk on action research but I was surprised to note that the burning question they all sought me to answer was this: “How can I become a better teacher?”

They all desired to be teachers who would be respected and remembered fondly by their students.

In view of the nationwide concern that the quality of teaching in this country is in dire straits, I must say their question deserves a well-thought out answer.

Over the past 25 years, I have worked with, met and observed scores of good, dedicated teachers but whenever talk turns to the subject of poor teaching, fingers inevitably get pointed at a teacher’s race, level of education or years of teaching experience.

Truth is, good teaching has more to do with a teacher’s personality, character, attitude, values, personal beliefs and intelligence than anything else.

In my opinion, here is what it takes to make a good teacher. I have used the acronym SMART to exemplify the salient characteristics that I personally think make the crucial difference.

S – structured, systematic, yet spontaneous and stimulating

Yes, a good teacher is an organised person. Her lessons are well-planned, her preparation thorough and her teaching progresses from the simple to the complex and abstract. She is aware that teaching is her core business and she takes it seriously.

M – Master of the subject they teach

It was John Milton Gregory who said, “The teacher must know that which he would teach. Imperfect knowing must be reflected in imperfect teaching”.

A – Affective

In all the years I taught, my students responded with alacrity whenever I took the trouble to “affect” them positively. My personality mattered!

R – Responsible and responsive

The word “responsible” is about the ability to respond. Good teachers respond to the professional demands set by their work, leaders, superiors, colleagues, students, situations and circumstances in a way that reflects their character.

T – Thinking and reflective

Compared to a person’s academic level of education, I respect intelligence more in a teacher. The reason is simple.

by Nithya Sidhhu.

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