Realigning teaching techniques

CONSTRUCTIVISM

Realigning teaching techniques

What is the role of teachers in classroom management? How much of learning by students is attributable to teachers? Examines N N Prahallada.

We are living in an era of exploding infotech and have entered the new millennium with sophisticated tools for learning. The distance education mode has come to stay as a powerful tool for life-long learning. Despite this, no one can underestimate the importance of teacher in the education system. This only means that education cannot become wholly, teacher-excluded.

Teaching should aim at a balanced growth of individuals. After all, mental slums are more dangerous to mankind than material slums. Teaching profession should not be reduced to a trade at any cost.

Tapping student potential

Teachers should play a positive role in bringing out the best in children.  There is a story about an old man who was called in by a factory to fix an ancient boiler, which had grounded to a halt. He wandered around the machine for 15 minutes examining the piping, whistling quietly to himsel. He stopped occasionally to put his ear to a point, and then pulled a hammer out of his tool bag and tapped smartly on one particular valve.
Slowly, the boiler began to rattle and sure enough it lumbered to life. Two days later, the company received a bill for Rs 10,000. They thought that was a bit steep for a 15 minutes work and sent back the bill with a request to itemise it. A day later, it returned itemised: for tapping with hammer Rs 100 and for knowing where to tap Rs 9,900. The teacher is like the old man with an acumen to tap the ability of the students at the right point, at the right time, with the right strokes.

Instilling appropriate attitudes

Effective classroom management depends on the teacher and how he/she is able to carry the class along with him/her. One way a teacher can achieve professional improvement is by cultivating appropriate attitudes towards work, students and life. According to Carl Rogers, the father of humanistic psychology, a teacher’s attitude should be one of unconditional and conditional positive regard.  For example, the teacher who enters the class and smiles at the students and greets them reveals his unconditional positive regard for them. The pupils realise that the teacher shows concern for them and so affirm that they are acceptable. This is unconditional positive self regard by the students.

The quintessence of the Hawthorne Effect is that when people in authority show, by words and actions, concern for their subordinates, they reciprocate by working hard, resulting in better production and more profit. This is applicable in education also. When a teacher shows his concern for students, the students respond by being more attentive, hard-working and systematic. If students are treated as responsible persons, they will become responsible. Therefore teachers need to have a clear vision about their students.

Teacher-pupil relationship

The success of schooling depends on teacher-pupil relationship. If the relationship is strained, teaching-learning process suffers. Harsh attitudes towards students, punitive action on students, partiality, peevish nature, failure to estimate the capabilities of students, undemocratic behaviour, lack of communication, etc can strain relationships.
Many a time, teachers punish students to cover-up their mistakes. By this students are pained and may retaliate.

The most important determinant of the classroom atmosphere is the teacher’s method of classroom management, especially his or her techniques for keeping the class actively attentive and involved in productive activities.
Teachers who get close to students and show concern for them are off to a good start. They must also establish and maintain credibility. Credibility is established largely by making sure that words and actions cohere. Once a teacher is established as respectable and trustworthy, he/she will be in a position to practice classroom management techniques effectively.

Constructive performance

Teacher expectations must be constructive and make students move in the expected direction. However, they should be appropriate, not ‘too high or too low’.

Further, teachers should keep their expectations always open. If expectations are allowed to become too strong or settled, they can begin to distort ‘perception and behaviour’, resulting in teachers’ deviation from good teaching practice.

Unusual abilities and aptitudes usually are not noticed except by those who are on the lookout for them. This is the main reason why teachers often fail to notice good behaviour in students who create discipline problems.

The following are some of the certain basic attitudes and expectations that every teacher should possess to do justice to the students and to do their jobs constructively and competently;

* While teaching brings many rewards and satisfactions, it is a demanding, exhausting and sometimes frustrating job. If teachers want to promote meaningful learning (apart from preparing lessons well) they should love the job.

* Teacher’s job involves many roles besides teaching. At times a teacher will have to serve as a parent surrogate, an entertainer, an authority figure, psychotherapist and a record keeper among other things. However they are subordinate to the major role of teaching.

* Teachers should understand that the crucial aspects of teaching are task presentations, diagnosis and enrichment.

* Teachers should think, talk and act in terms of individual students. At the same time, they should expect all students to achieve/reach at least the minimum specified objectives. Now there is a move towards individualising instruction.

* Teachers should expect students to enjoy learning. To do this, teachers should not only have the appropriate attitude towards school work, but also provide or create a congenial atmosphere, so as to make learning a joyous experience.

It is an established fact that teachers with negative attitudes will tend to see learning activities as unpleasant drudgery. If teachers are more authoritarian and punitive, they will present assignments as bitter pills that the students must swallow. And the outcome would be that students will develop hatred towards teachers.

Good children are not born but are made. The contemporary challenge before both formal and non-formal schools is to inculcate disciplined behaviour among school children. Many of the children who have reached pinnacles of success have come from good and disciplined homes and schools.

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