As I was reading the Yearners and Schoolers post , it resonated with what Peter Norvig says in first 2 minutes of a Ted Talk on the nature of the classroom and online education. “While the subject matter of the class is advanced and modern, the teaching technology isnt! I used basically the same technology as this 14th century classroom. the textbook, the sage on the stage and the sleeping guy at the back ! :D”.
That really is how most of the classrooms still are today and like the author said even if tie travelers were to come to a classroom they would find it pretty easy to get started.
As a future teacher what I really want to do is break out of this “sage on stage”. My inspiration comes from all the “not so inspiring” teachers that I have had and hence this post is dedicated to all of you! This post can be used as a useful step by step resource for losing one’s teaching identity. If the below techniques are practiced success is guaranteed. 🙂
Let me try to identify the characteristics of different species of teachers without getting into names. First are the biased ones. Probably should be working in the media. The reason I say this is because just like many people in the media, they are quick to make fast judgments and persist with them. Most often it is passing judgements on the students who have disdain for authority and it leads to friction inside and outside the classroom. I have had many of these. What it taught me is to not pass a judgement on the student. I can judge his individual action but not him/her. Infact I have realized that it is much easier to shut down the learning system of a student when you confront him/her because it brings out the defensive/rebellious streak in him/her. Keeping your own ego aside in the classroom is the key. The focus should be rather on transferring some of the good qualities in you to them which suits them and making them realize how something is beneficial for their growth as a person.
Second comes the dull ones. It almost seems like they are shouldering the entire burden of humanity which is put on you for those 60 minutes in class. A alternate profession for them could be sleep therapists. They do their best to make you fall asleep. It is almost like a trance. The monotonic voice is almost hypnotic. How can we avoid meting out this form of torture on the students ? Make the students think in class. Now this is a very overused word in pedagogy. Making them “think” or being “creative” all seems good in theory but is really hard to implement. I think this is more of an art and takes a good amount of practice. I will address one way of doing this in the following paragraph.
The third category are the ones who fake it. Although they are detrimental to the learning interests, nonetheless they are very entertaining . As a teacher , I think it is important to communicate to the students that you are not the “Son of God” or the omniscient being sent from heaven. You have your limitations and actually you can share some of your limitations and put them across as open questions to students. For a student it is very motivating and rewarding to challenge the teacher. This is a fine line and can lead to ego clashes but if you are reasonably well prepared in your subject there will always be areas where you will be very strong and that fosters a spirit of mutual respect.
So what are some of the techniques that I would want to have as a teacher. Firstly, i find sharing my own life experiences. The reason here is not to focus on “me” but to convey the challenges I faced and how I dealt with them. Perhaps students have similar concerns. Second is being extremely approachable and transparent. For example, if someone cheats in one of the projects, rather than confronting him/her, I would try to counsel him/her. I find it funny when we ourselves act dishonestly at times but want to mete out the strongest punishment when someone else does it. Finally, engaging the audience . Now this is a very high level term. There are many ways to engage people in a conversation. First could be by showing them a demonstration of your skill (such as developing a cool app). It inspires many people as they want to emulate your feat. Secondly having an individual rapport with the students where you can speak to individuals while simultaneously talking to a group. And finally, encouraging students to voice their ideas in the classroom!