New year, new goals


TEACHER TALK
By NITHYA SIDHHU

Teachers must take time to take stock and bring about positive changes in class for the year ahead.

IT WAS Khalil Gibran who said that “the significance of a man is not what he attains, but rather in what he longs to attain”. Yes, what is it that you would like to achieve in the coming year?

For the Chinese, 2011 is going to be the Year of the Prosperous Rabbit so if there is one thing that teachers can choose to focus on, it could definitely be their productivity!

If you have no idea as to what your resolutions should be, here are 10 suggestions that can help you become a better teacher. Each one of them is inspired by a famous personality and I hope you will be motivated by them :

Resolve to be the master of your own will. According to motivational guru Robin S. Sharma, “people blame everything and everyone except themselves for their lack of willpower”.

You can, if you should choose to do so, adopt a more positive attitude towards your job and not let your frustrations affect your productivity and performance.

Sharma advises, “If you doubled or tripled the amount of willpower you currently have, you could be far more efficient with your time, erase all your bad habits and rekindle your drive and energy for living”. Try it!

Resolve to be a more interesting teacher. Think of the avoidance vs. approach principle. You have to attract your students to your teaching. Therefore monitor constantly your teaching style and reflect on the methodologies you employ and note which aspects of your personality ought to be highlighted in order to generate a positive response from your students.

Voice, body language, interaction levels and mannerisms can all be modulated. Offer your students learning stimuli which are varied and fun. As Mahatma Gandhi put it: “Be the change you want to see in the world around you.”

Resolve to communicate more with your students and be more connected to them. American management guru Peter F. Drucker was convinced that the “most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said”. What are your students not telling you? Do not take their comprehension for granted.

The silence of students who neither like nor understand their teacher can be as deafening as the enthusiastic accolades they give to a teacher who can genuinely communicate and interact with them.

Resolve to improve your pedagogical content knowledge — that is, know how to teach better. The former CEO of Ford, Lee Iacocca, explained that a person can can have brilliant ideas, but if he can’t get them across, then his ideas won’t get him anywhere”.

Think of how you convey content. Use clear and succinct explanations, systematic and efficient presentations, varied and apt examples and language that is clearly understood.

Even if it takes time, get the students involved and thinking. Shift your teaching goals from covering material to gaining understanding. Remember what author E.M. Forster said —“Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.”

Resolve to be a more effective teacher. In her book, Effective Teaching, educator Elizabeth Perrot emphasised that effective teachers exhibit a set of factors (known as the Ryan factors) which include the following three characteristics : ‘brisk and businesslike ; warm and understanding ; stimulating and imaginative’.

Also, teachers who are effective often use an open style of questioning which include techniques like probing, prompting, seeking clarification and re-focusing. Nothing escapes their eye in the classroom.

Resolve to find out what your students think of your teaching. Cast out your fears and get them to provide you feedback on the efficacy of your lessons. The evaluation method I myself like to use comes from lateral thinking advocate Edward de Bono.

Known as the PMI method – the format involves three columns — Plus, Minus and Interesting — in which the students can freely describe (using either words or sentences) your strengths, your weaknesses and your uniqueness (special qualities) respectively. Use the ‘plus’ comments to motivate you, the “minus” input to guide you on the improvements you need to make and the “interesting” observations to remind you of what makes you special to your students. If certain columns yawn empty, they are telling you volumes!

Resolve to look beyond race when you teach. Think of how you would feel if someone discriminated against you just because you were not of the same race! Martin Luther King, Jr. was guided by God when he said, “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Resolve to be a more giving, kind, caring and concerned teacher. Be moved by a person like Mother Teresa who worked tirelessly among the sick, diseased and destitute.

She said, “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.” Think of this when your students approach you for help, support and understanding.

Resolve to have the right perspective on principals, paperwork, policies, pay and promotions. Each comes with its own attendant demands and in order to rise up, you sometimes have to bow down, put your shoulder to the wheel and press on.

In the face of adversity, have resilience and faith. As Calvin Coolidge put it: “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

Finally, resolve to stay positive. Mix, mingle and be motivated by colleagues, students and people who are big and open-hearted. Paste Mark Twain’s wise words where you can read them daily for he was the one who said, “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

Have a great 2011. Happy New Year!

Dipetik dari The Star Online

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