The Teacher Makes the Difference
Teaching and learning are two different processes which are well connected. Learning is a process in the mind of the students where comprehension and understanding are generated. Learning has meaning when the student understands the concept. Teaching on the other hand, requires imparting of knowledge in a manner that helps the learner to construct meaning from it. This requires the teacher and the student to have some kind of interaction. This is the key to successful teaching and learning.
Rahul of class 8 was an overweight student. His obesity lead other students to make fun of him. This distracted his attention from academics; the net result was his academic performance deteriorated. He was shy and kept himself aloof from others, but at times reacted violently to his friends. This was a matter of grave concern for his parents.
I started talking to him often during the break time and kept him separate from group work in the class room. I made him sit close to my desk so that he felt secure and important. I then made him help me in ways that took advantage of his body size and height. For example, I made it a point to ask him to assist with things which he could do and made him feel ‘big’
‘Rahul, can you get the books from the cupboard’
‘Rahul, please get that duster off the top shelf and bring it to me’
‘Can you come along with me to the library’
‘Please help your friends to stand in height order’
When such tasks were assigned to him, he felt that he is capable and wanted to
prove himself in academics too.
This helped him feel proud that his size was a benefit to the class and not something to be embarrassed about. I also noticed that he was good in mathematics. I capitalized on this by asking him to work one-to-one with students who were struggling in that subject. This improved his confidence and helped his math scores to go up along with the students whom he coached.
The attention and care given to him quickly made him realize his role and capability and later he was given the role of a group leader. Today he is an army officer. The last line in his letter received by me touched my heart, ‘Madam, you made me what I am today’
That is the positive relationship between the student and me which gave me immense happiness.
The interaction between teacher and student is the fundamental aspect for successful teaching and making connections with active and growing minds of the students. ‘Students are likely to do well in school when they work with teachers who are flexible, positive, creative and child-centered, rather than teacher oriented’. Teachers are usually influenced by the appearance, previous performance or class teacher’s report about any given student.
These first impressions are not always the same among teachers; thus, each impression leads to different expectations from the student. Therefore, it is important that teachers do not get influenced by their first impressions but, rather, take time to get to know their students better. Teachers who foster positive relationships with their students create classroom environments more conducive to learning and meet students’ emotional and academic needs.
Positive teacher-student relationships promote a sense of belongingness to the school and encourage students to participate cooperatively. Students develop confidence to experiment and succeed in an environment where they are not restricted by the fear of failure. Teachers are able to assist students with motivation and goal setting, and students can approach the teachers for support and guidance.
Students work better in class if they feel that their teacher values them and cares for them. We all would want to feel loved and cared for, and so do students. They feel valued if the teacher not only cares about their grades but also takes care of their well-being and social life.
The teacher should be ready to meet the students, and they should have an open-door policy where students can approach and walk in if they need to talk about anything. The teacher can reach school some time before classes start and be available for any student who needs to share or talk about something interesting or even clear doubts. Some may be under going depression; others could be worried about their examinations, while a few may simply need someone to talk to about general problems without being criticized. In this way, a teacher can create bonds and connections with the students.
Students who have a good relationship with their teachers show improvement in their performance in academics. This is because students can easily approach their teacher for help if they have a problem in a particular lesson, and they are motivated to work harder if they know that their teacher cares for them. The teacher can also come up with the play way and child-friendly teaching methods as per the students learning skills, instead of adopting the usual chalk and talk method which doesn’t inspire the students.
Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care -Theodore Roosevelt
A supportive teacher is one who efficiently creates a positive classroom environment, who encourages students to behave well in the classroom and to be motivated. Supportive teachers emphasize the learning process by giving all the students the chance to construct their learning and be engaged with the content. Students feel motivated and stimulated to learn and actively collaborate with the teachers when the classroom is running in a safe and supportive environment.
When students feel that their teachers are supportive and trustworthy, they tend to create a connection with their teachers and look at them as someone who is there to protect them and give them the chance to enhance their learning and at the same time behave well.
A good classroom situation is important because the emotional support a teacher establishes with students will make them capable and confident.
A few tips to follow—-
- The teacher must express pleasure and joy on meeting the students.
- Regular discussion with the students will make them responsible.
- Support the students in academic performance and social work.
- Help students to enhance their thinking and learning skills.
- Know the students by name; learn about their family background, interests, strengths and weaknesses.
- Think before showing frustration and anger towards students.
Students look upon their teachers as their guide, mentor and well-wishers. If the students perform well it will be the greatest joy that a teacher can get. Teachers will go that extra mile to support students not just in academics but also in extra-curricular activities and for making career choices.
When you have a good relationship with your students, they are more likely to feel positive about class and about school in general. They are also more willing to work hard and take risks. Strong teacher student relationships shape the way children think and act in school.
‘One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child’
Padmini Sriraman, M A in History and Economics, M Ed and M Phil, is the Principal of The Hindu Senior Secondary School, Chennai. She is also the Vice Chair person of Chennai Sahodaya Group of Schools.
She received the CBSE National Award in 2012 and the Best Principal Award from the Bombay Stock Exchange. She has also received awards from Mylapore Academy, Rotary Club, recognition from various other institutions and the International School Award from the British Council.
She has written social studies books for Classes 6, 7 and 8, EVS books for Classes 1 to 5 and articles in educational magazines.
She has conducted workshops in Social Science, EVS, Classroom Management, Handling Slow Learners, Life skills, Value Education, CCE, and Study Techniques in various states in India, also at Dubai and Doha.
She has learnt Carnatic music, does oil painting and was a basket ball player during her school days. Her personal vision is to create a positive impact and motivate everyone with a ‘can do and never give up’ attitude; to encourage inspire and motivate everyone to discover and develop their potential while igniting their passion for life and their dreams.
Contact – firstname.lastname@example.org mobile –9841131685