Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018

A Slice of Vacation for Vocation

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June 6, 2018


The long-awaited summer break has finally arrived. Planning how to spend the summer usually begins by the end of December or even before. Tickets are booked and holidays are impeccably planned. Those who haven’t planned for any holiday are possibly busy looking for the best summer camps. However, this is the urban scenario. While it’s plausible to send children for summer camp to learn an art or a hobby and keep them busy, it is also pivotal to help them bridge the gap between one academic session and another. Likewise, don’t you think that as teachers, we also need to make use of a slice of vacation for vocation? But let us first understand why summer break is extremely essential for a teacher.

Why is summer break important for a teacher?

The teaching profession is enriching and rewarding but equally exhausting. It is per se distinct. We are long term Research Fellows. For most of the time, we are doing the thinking job. We plan, organize and document teaching and learning experiences. We keep pondering and reflecting on our teaching methods, about what clicked and what was disastrous. Throughout the academic year, we prioritise what matters most and procrastinate what is less important. Exercise regimes stay on slip notes and health checkups are ignored. Sundays and other holidays are set aside for preparation or checking students’ work. The time spent with family is just not enough. Summer is therefore a time for ourselves, our family and relatives. We make up for the loss.

What is this life if, full of care,We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs And stare as long as sheep or cows.

These lines from W. H. Davies’ poem ‘Leisure’ are very relevant to modern times. Summer is the best time to rejuvenate ourselves and bring in new vigour and energy and prepare to assume multiple roles in our personal as well as professional life. Teachers are notorious for skipping breakfast and ignoring health so taking enough rest, apart from a balanced diet revitalizes our body. It is imperative to enjoy a short – no work or travel period – soon after the school is closed. Let us appreciate the beauty of bountiful nature. One could also engage in gardening, home decor/science or other hobbies. These activities have proven to strengthen us from within or even provide inner healing.

Family is our first priority. Giving them ample time during summer is always the right thing to do because in a few days again, the research mode is switched on. Meeting friends and relatives also is extra beneficial as they wouldn’t grudge about you not being able to attend their calls on regular days or socialize with them.

To give ourselves some personal time is part of enriching and developing our vocation, without which we would just be transactors of the syllabus. A teacher who couldn’t invest time on herself or himself to develop his or her personality is not prepared to facilitate the growth of human minds.

Qui docet discit ( one who teaches learns)

Education is not an impersonal ‘me’ teaching an impersonal ‘you’, but a process of evolution taking place within both the teacher and the taught. (Margaret, K. T. (1999). The open classroom (2012 ed) p. 12)

As teachers, we are not mere givers of fixed form of knowledge as just a means of classroom transaction. We deal with human minds, hearts and souls. In order to allow an evolution to take place within us, we must recognise the fact that we are flawed. We battle against our own inhibitions, emotions, moods and weaknesses everyday to present the ideal teacher that our students would want to see in us. While a vacation is invigorating, it could also cause a lull in teacher’s minds and bring down the levels of enthusiasm needed for the year ahead. The causes could be many. So how do we combat the onslaught of summer slide in us teachers?

Read for pleasure: ‘There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island’ — Walt Disney. Whatever language one is comfortable in, he or she must devote some time for reading for pleasure and not as a chore or duty.

Register for MOOCs: MOOCs are Massive Open Online Courses. There are various sites such as Coursera, Edx, Udemy, etc that offer free courses. In addition to developing our skills, such courses help us to unlearn and bring in a fundamental change in our fixed notions about the teaching-learning process.

Attend conferences, if any: Keeping ourselves updated on educational conferences is one of the ways to acquaint with like-minded teaching professionals. Attending such conferences broadens our entire outlook towards education and life. Inadvertently, it can also be a surprise family holiday.

Subscribe for a teachers’ magazine for professional development: Subscribing for a magazine for teachers enables us to be aware of the latest developments in education. This ensures that no matter when we started our career, we are always updated in terms of educational reforms.

Become a youtuber: In order to understand how effective our teaching and learning plan is, we can either audio record our lesson and listen to it or even upload it on youtube to generate feedback.

Familiarize with various models of teaching: In advanced schools, there could be a facility for teachers to design their own curriculum. However, this needs prior planning. Additionally, we can acquire knowledge on existing models of teaching. We can always blend in the best of the models to make our teaching effective. Planning for the 40 minute class, breaking it down into small chunks needs ample time.

A quiet summer is the best time to learn, unlearn, relearn and become a ‘Progressive Teacher’. After all, our vocation deserves a slice of our vacation.

A teacher by profession and a storyteller by passion, Leena Satuluri believes in the power of storytelling in teaching – learning practices. Additionally, she also teaches theatre art and creative writing. Currently, she is on the quest for alternative teaching practices in traditional settings. She invites educators to give feedback or collaborate. She is presently working in Delhi Public School, Vijayawada and can be reached at leena3278@hotmail. com

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