We don’t have always have the best memories of our teachers in school. We might think of the ones who were so strict and didn’t let us have any fun. We could think of the ones who punished us and embarrassed us for not knowing the correct answers in class. We could think of teachers as those who just assigned us homework and gave us quizzes but didn’t really care about us. What are your feelings about teachers?
Last Saturday was Teacher’s Day here in India. I was reminded of how heroic and brave teachers were for continuing the tough job of educating future generations. I thought of my mother, a teacher not just in the classroom but for all aspects of my life, and how much she sacrificed for me to become the woman I am today.
It’s easy to think in terms of black and white when looking back at the teachers who taught us. We say to ourselves, “oh this teacher was good, and that teacher was bad.” But we must remember that teachers, although tasked with the difficult job of teaching, are human too. They have their faults and make mistakes, just like us. At the end of the day, we still learned a lot from them and owe so much to them. That is why every year we celebrate teachers across the country with a special day just for them.
Regardless of our experiences with teachers, there is no doubt that they play an important role in society. Teachers are in charge of shaping the minds of the future. One of the first people children meet and interact with regularly is their teacher! Students continue to interact with teachers until they are in their late 20’s. Almost their whole life is built around learning from a teacher. This is a massive responsibility. Teachers must be aware of the great power they have over their students and use it properly. The abuse of this power is no surprise and unfortunately more common than it should be. But the best teachers realize their purpose and use it for good.
Teachers do more than teach us how to read and write, count, do maths, or memorize information. They teach us how to be better people. They teach us how to make friends, how to behave with manners and respect, how to chase our dreams and achieve our goals. How many of us were inspired by our teachers in the past to pursue the careers we have today? Many of us saw the adults in our lives, our teachers, and said: “I want to be like them!”
How can teachers continue to engage with their students and inspire them to be the best they can be? I have several tips to help teachers be even more effective:
Make it Meaningful
Students will not care about things that they think are meaningless or unimportant. Making lessons meaningful can be as simple as connecting them to what they already know or learned before. Teachers can also give students real-life examples of applying these lessons or share their own personal experiences with learning. This will make teachers more relatable to students as they realize that they are human too!
Set Students Up for Success
It can be tempting to want to test our students and push them to their limits. While that is necessary sometimes, make sure to set your students up for success. Allow them to feel competent and confident about their skills and abilities by progressing at their own pace. If they are struggling with certain concepts, make sure they understand them before moving on to more advanced ones. Even if it takes more time, it’s better to learn slowly and steadily rather than making them feel like they are failing or making mistakes all the time.
Respect is an important part of any student-teacher relationship. Teachers should not relinquish their power but should also not just force students to obey or comply with their rules. Students should be willing to listen to their teacher out of mutual respect, not out of fear or blind obedience. Treating your students with respect will teach them to treat you, their teacher, and their peers with respect as well.
Build Positive Relationships
Teachers do more than just give out homework and grade tests. Engage your students better by showing that you care about more than just their grades. Ask them how they are feeling or if there are any problems at home or with their friends, and treat them like normal people! Refrain from making promises to them that you can’t keep or lying to them. Don’t play favourites and treat all students fairly and justly.
Teaching is not merely a one-way street. Teachers are not simply spouting information that the students have to memorize and repeat during tests. One of the best ways to keep students engaged is to allow them to work with each other. While this may a bit difficult if you are teaching online, it’s still a great way to get students involved in the class. It also fosters independence and teamwork, two very important skills for their future careers.
As we remember and celebrate all the hard work and sacrifice teachers make for our students, let us strive to be as dedicated as them in shaping our future generations for the better. Cheers to all the teachers around the world!