CORE STANDARDS OF TEACHING, The HINDU column, April 18, 2012 – Sreeni’s quotes appear

As I shared in one of my earlier posts, Teaching – Vision, rationale and personal standards , was my response to a questionnaire sent by THE HINDU for one their articles.

Here is the link to the published one, article online, in The HINDU opportunities page. This article was written by Payal Chanania, of cnkonline, after interviewing a few educationists.

I am including the text version here..

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All teaching is designed towards preparing students for success in such a way that they emerge as responsible and grounded adults of tomorrow. Teachers are the guideposts that show them the way for achieving high-quality paths ahead. But attaining such meaningful development requires educators to hold themselves up to certain definitive standards. This comprises of the basic philosophy underlying their teaching and governing their conduct in the classroom.

What standards do you expect of yourself?

The personal vision or critical rationale that a teacher is committed to achieving is quite difficult to define. The challenge lies in carefully reflecting on and conceiving what you are really committed to (and how).

Most teachers echo that they see themselves as more of facilitators. Mr. Rajiv Sethi (Retd.), PhD Registrar and Professor of Finance, TERI University voices the sentiment, “The first thing I look at is to move away from the traditional role of a teacher – which was to ‘teach’, and move into a slot where I as a teacher, ‘facilitates’ learning.”

Ms. Joy Puvana, Faculty, Business Communication, TalentSprint expands, “The role of a teacher doesn’t consist primarily of lecturing about a specific subject to students who sit in rows at desks, dutifully listening and recording what they hear, but, rather, offer every student a rich, rewarding, and unique learning experience!”

This will prompt a true love for learning in the hearts and minds of the students. But encouraging active learning requires the educator to be equally passionate and committed to the subject, as it proportionately influences student motivation. Students will then be willing to push themselves, explore new dimensions and seek new possibilities. Promoting critical thinking and problem-solving is considered imperative as well.

Helping students identify and explore their passions so as to find what they truly love doing is next on the list. In the words of Mr. R. Srinivasan, Co-Founder, CL Educate Ltd. and Director – Indus World School of Business, “It is all about enabling an individual to set goals for oneself and chasing them. Once that happens, everything else will fall in place!”

Imparting true understanding of the subject is an important teaching standard. Prof. R. Dheenadayalu, Dean (ICT), Saveetha Engineering College, says, “My personal vision is that every student understands the topic clearly and should be able to apply that when he encounters a problem.” Even Mr. Ishan Gupta, Founder and CEO, Edukart.com agrees, “We aspire to make our participants understand the concepts of the subject and also imbibe experiential learning.” Mr. Sethi especially mentions, “I should be able to connect new knowledge to today’s context, so as to be able to pass-on a better understanding to the students.
I must be able to foster cross-disciplinary learning, so that the students can understand the nuances of every aspect of a problem and can then approach the problem in a holistic manner.”

Teachers also wish to build an engaging and joyful classroom atmosphere as it helps students truly understand and learn. Accordingly, they should draw on their expertise and aspire to make their subject matter as meaningful as possible.

Developing good ethics and values is considered important as well. This calls on teachers to highlight the importance of hard work, perseverance, honesty, integrity, courage in the face of adversity and so on as the ultimate path leading to true success.

The importance of fostering a collaborative, interactive and supportive environment is not overlooked either.

Incorporating a variety of instructional strategies deserves a special mention as it enables teachers to easily adapt to diverse learning styles of the students.
“Although there is no ‘right’ method for teaching a particular lesson, but a teacher should be efficient enough to choose the right instructional method depending upon concept, context, topic and needs of learner”, so says Mrs. Meenal Arora, Executive Director, Shemrock & Shemford Group of Schools.

Putting the standards to work

To achieve these teaching standards, educators have to model the expectations. Mr. Srinivasan explains, “I create experiences in the learning environment that enables learners to realise and comprehend the concepts through experiential learning, more than the theoretical lectures of the concepts.
So, for me, learning is bottom-up.”

Even for Ms. Puvana, “Constructivism approach to teaching is best – activities that encourage students to construct pieces of learning by themselves.” Mr. Sethi feels, “By moving away from just classroom lectures, to much more of classroom discussions and assignments which stimulate critical thinking. By moving away from rote learning to learning from role-plays where one gets a chance to explore one’s own knowledge, what one lacks, and what needs to be learnt to be able to meet the challenges ahead.” Believing in the students’ abilities while providing due support and encouragement is also important. When it comes to evaluating whether one has really accomplished the standards, Ms. Puvana offers, “I would like to evaluate my success not only by the student’s scores, but also by their progress in their lives and careers!”

For Mrs. Arora, “The result of a teacher’s efforts is visible in the accomplishment of her students. If a child has understood and inculcated the subject and values being taught by the teacher, she would surely demonstrate a positive change in thinking and behaviour.”

To sum up, teachers play a very strong influence in students’ lives. But the core effectiveness of the teaching community does not rest only in their knowledge of the subject but also encompasses the overall standards, characteristics and behaviour when they actually teach!

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