Technology may not be what you teach your student, but technology is certainly what you use when you teach. The bits and the bytes, the internet, the social media, and all things that travel at speeds that the mind cannot even think of, are as real as the bunch of students that you see in a classroom. This bunch of students can be aware or dis-enchanted, eager or plain lazy, or there just because society wants them to be there. Whatever be the reason for someone becoming a student, once they are there they do begin to form an opinion about teachers.
We are going to talk about how technology, social media, students, and teachers are metaphorically connected. I am going to pull out example tweets and then elaborate on how the connection has evolved. But before we do that, let me say that most teachers feel they are ‘great’. Yes, I remember a few of my school teachers say that they were the best. The same happened in college… and was repeated when I did some professional courses even when I was past 50. Even as a fifty year old student I heard my teachers blow their trumpet and assume that they were the greatest! This happens in every school, every college, every university… and so I was prompted to list out things that made a teacher feel he was great.
The ‘greatness’ list that I created, includes:
My students score well in tests.
My students do well in every sort of assessment.
My students are always smiling when I enter the classroom.
My students never feel unsafe or shaky in the subject I teach.
My students are always eager to discuss the finer nuances of what I teach.
My students are simply perfect in their spellings or grammar or expression.
My students get the completely involved teacher in me.
My students love me because I love them.
My students are not just students, but like my own children.
The list could be endless because every teacher does analyse himself in ways that seem to suit him or her. My next step was to explore the social media and I short-listed seven tweets or micro-blogs as some call them, and decided to talk about different characteristics in a teacher and how they may have evolved these past few years with such a high proliferation and penetration of the internet.
Teacher: You failed your exam.
Student: You failed to teach me.
So we know that it is not smiles in a classroom that will matter if a student fails to score. But then it isn’t even a matter of scores or marks obtained. What matters is how much and how well a student has been taught. Teaching, by the way, is not just what is there in text-books but knowing how to apply all this knowledge in a profession as well as in life. It is possible that even a student who has passed may say the same thing to a teacher. So a teacher has indeed ‘failed to teach’ if he has not impregnated knowledge with values.
Teacher: Learn to do things on your own.
Teacher: I forgot to bring in my book, can someone go to the staffroom and bring it for me?
Quite obviously a teacher at any stage of a student’s education needs to lead by example. One who is afraid to get up on the stage and address a gathering cannot possibly teach public speaking, so to say. What I am trying to say is that preaching values is not the effective way to inculcate them… you just need to do your things right and students will do what you want them to do. This is the silent command method that is actually on a perceptive level.
Teacher: “You’re here to learn.” Student: “No, we’re here because it’s the law.”
Isn’t this what the government seems to be trying to do? They have actually transformed school into a free travel or commute from one class to another until a student emerges out of it with a certificate in his hands that he cannot even read properly! The truth is that besides making it mandatory for kids to become students, a teacher needs to make the school or college years a journey full of discovery. Well, even college students roam the streets today with degrees in their hands and without having the ability to even draft a leave application properly. So teachers must not be content that all the seats in the college or school are filled… they need to convert all of them into learners!
It is illegal for a teacher to keep the class after the bell as punishment.
This is another aspect that needs to be understood carefully by a teacher. You can surely make a student stay after class… but NOT as a punishment. Convert it into a learning experience, an incentive, a journey that they volunteer to embark on… I believe that the first move needs to come from the teacher. It is they who must stop being the bully in the classroom. You cannot possibly threaten and then make them learn their lesson. No, you need not get on your knees as well… all you got to do is to convert even extra hours of teaching into something that they start looking forward to.
Useful for any teacher using a Tab for the 1st time. 10 Great Apps for a Teacher’s New Tablet.
No, I don’t intend to give you a list of the most appropriate apps for your Tab or iPad here. The point I am trying to make is that an early adoption of technology brings you at a level where some your students already might be at. If you don’t embrace technology, you force it to embarrass you! I have seen even university teachers remain at a distance from technology. Well, you need to remember that even teachers must be students for life. Learn your technology well and you could actually be on your way to becoming a ‘great’ teacher!
A teacher is never a giver of truth. He is a guide, a pointer to the truth that each student must find for himself – Bruce Lee
Many teachers are naïve enough to assume that knowledge is whatever they know and are teaching. Well, knowledge and wisdom are far more spread out than you or I can ever imagine them to be. Learning does not stop when you join as a teacher… in fact this learning has actually just begun. You have to learn more and learn faster because your students are bringing with them their knowledge in all the different formats now available. They can access the wisdom that all the learned teachers have to offer, at the click of a key on the keyboard! For you, as a teacher, the present will become a shattering dis-orientation if you aren’t keeping in step with all the technological innovations that time is flinging at you.
When the quality and competence of the teacher improves so does the student achievement.
So you are prone to talk about the way your students have fared in their exams… right? It is possible if you have a batch of self-propelled learners in your batch… but where this feat is repeated year after year, the reason will always be teachers who are continually learning and keeping up with the academic chromosomes of the world! Would you have faith in a doctor who prescribes you a medicine that even you know has been over-taken and unseated by newer molecules? The answer will lead you to the need of a constant booster dose of not just your knowledge of your subject but also about all related aspects and also the way communication has changed!
The seven factors
Well, the seven factors that I have mentioned are those that teachers teaching at any level can think about and consider adopting to get moving into the haloed arena of being really respected by the students. There is no great teacher, if you ask me. Every person, in fact, is a teacher and a learner at the same time. Remember, Bill gates said: ‘Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.’ So as a teacher you really cannot afford to let complacency born because of success, come at you to tear you apart. For you as a teacher, the only way ahead is to keep moving and keep learning. You are a great teacher so long as you remain a great student!
Article written on 13 June 2013
Published in ‘The Education Post’ compendium ‘Indian Institutes’
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