Every teacher wants to be the teacher students look up to and respect the most, and with good reason - the ideal teacher can earn the respect of the students while also being free with them so that they are open to them and share their problems with them. So, every teacher must aspire to be so - but how? The responsibilities of a teacher are manifold, and being the ideal teacher to your students can be challenging. However, there are a few things that can help you become a better teacher. This raises an important question though - why challenge yourself as a teacher?
The Need for Challenging Yourself as a Teacher
Coaxing students into pushing themselves to yield the best results is quite a common phenomenon. However, the same is hardly seen when it comes to teachers. It is not like teachers are not required to do - in fact, exploratory research for teachers must be something that should be actively pursued by all teachers because it is something that will invariably help them get better at their job. Challenging yourself as a teacher essentially means learning more, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, and putting more effort into your teaching methods.
Ways You Can Challenge Yourself to be The Ideal Teacher
Given below are 5 ways you can challenge yourself as a teacher and be the perfect teacher:
Write a Mini Thesis on Your Own
Most teachers will feel hesitant at the thought of ‘research’, because it is a word that feels like it has a lot of draining academic baggage behind it. However laborious it may seem, this is an effective exercise that can greatly boost your confidence as a teacher. There are several reasons why you should try this:
- It promotes self-reliance.
- When researching one topic, you will come across several other topics that are related or unrelated to your topic that can help you gain more knowledge in the long run.
- Writing a mini-thesis on your own helps you understand the nuances of the research and what it entails.
- Gives you an opportunity to get a glimpse into whether or not getting a Ph.D. in Education will be feasible for you.
Try Different Forms of Teaching
Pushing yourself, as mentioned above, also implies pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. Try some different teaching methods that you have not tried before, such as active learning. Active learning is an alternative type of learning where the teacher temporarily gives the students the power to take a class. Other forms of teaching include:
- Co-teaching methods like parallel teaching, station teaching, alternative teaching, etc.
- The Case Method
- Design based Teaching
- Experiential learning, and so on
It is important to note that not all teaching methods will gel well with students, with some finding one method difficult to follow, while others find it much better than the earlier one. Try to find the perfect blend that will help most of the students in the class.
Make Use of Lesson Plans
A lesson plan is a tool used by teachers to help them plan their lessons in advance in the most effective way possible. Lesson plans are one of the most paramount tools of an ideal teacher, and making use of them will definitely help you improve your efficiency in class. Lesson plans are a teacher’s self-made guide to a better, more effective way of teaching, so it is important to consider using one, as it can change your teaching method drastically.
Take Up Leadership Roles at Your School
This does not refer to a teaching role per se (although it can be depending on the circumstance). There are a lot of activities that take place in a school, irrespective of whether it is conducted online or offline. There can be events like annual day, symposiums, conclaves, awareness seminars, etc. Take initiative and put yourself in leadership roles in such events as anchoring, organizing, logistics, etc. This helps teachers in several ways:
- It helps teachers understand where they lie when it comes to leadership skills.
- It helps teachers improve their soft skills like communication skills, critical thinking skills, etc. better.
- It helps them identify their innate strengths and weaknesses.
Rely on Feedback to Progress
One of the most effective ways to improve yourself and challenge yourself is by making use of feedback. Feedback can come from 3 sources:
- Students - Your students know you best, both as a teacher and a mentor. Feedback from them would be extremely helpful because each student can give you an idea about what you are doing wrong and what you are doing right - which will, in turn, give you an idea of what to focus on to make your teaching more effective.
- Teachers - Ask some fellow teachers to sit in one of your classes and analyze your teaching method. While the student perspective will be more personal and related to what they understand in class, the teacher’s perspective will be more analytical and rooted in their experience as a teacher, hence giving you further pointers on how to improve your teaching.
- Record Yourself - This is something you will have to do outside the classroom. This is made easier by the fact that most classes conducted are done so online. Record yourself teaching an imaginary audience and play it back once you are done. This can give you a perspective unique to the ones mentioned above - self-analysis. Watching yourself teach will give you an idea of what body language you are giving off, as well as whether you falter, stutter, mumble, etc. when teaching.
Who is an Ideal Teacher?
The hard truth is that an ideal teacher is not exactly a person that you can find - they simply do not exist. It is a concept that people can use as a scale to measure themselves. It is simply an abstract concept that is unique to each individual, a culmination of values that they want to or wanted to see in their teachers - and now, in themselves. These values can help teachers stay focused and give them an incentive to work on themselves constantly.
Working towards such a goal can seem pointless, but it is quite the opposite. Having such a goal makes sure that your competition is solely you and your expectations of yourself, and the important thing is not your success but your growth. It would be most apt to end this blog by quoting Matthew McConaughey’s Oscar speech:
“..... When I was 15 years old I had a very important person in my life come and ask me 'Who's your hero?' I said, 'I thought about it and it's me in ten years’. So I turned 25 ten years later and that same person comes to me and goes, 'Are you a hero?' I said, 'Not even close!' She said why and I said, 'My hero is me at 35.' You see, every day, every week, every month, and every year of my life, my hero is always ten years away. I'm never going to be my hero. I'm not going to obtain that and that's fine with me because it keeps me with somebody to keep on chasing….”
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