What makes a great teacher?

What makes a great teacher?

What makes a great teacher?

Annie Koshy was born in India, but her family shifted to Canada when she was a child.  After completing her basic education, she went on to study Canadian pedagogy, had an arranged marriage with an Indian working in the railways, and came back to her motherland.  When the Canadian School of India was started in Bangalore, she applied for a teacher’s job, and was pleasantly surprised to be offered a salary that was touching a lakh of rupees a month.  It was because she could balance the Indian and Canadian systems of studies, and help students settle between the two cultures.

After her husband was transferred to Pune, she resigned and joined the Mercedes Benz School there, and enjoys her job as a teacher.  Whether she lives in India or the West, she is clear that she would always like to teach, and the financial rewards that she is getting reinforce her passion.

Rewarding and inspiring
For years, we’ve heard people say, “Indeed, teaching is one of the noblest of professions, but one cannot support a family or have a comfortable material life as a teacher.”  Thankfully, the scenario is steadily changing, and teaching/training can be quite paying if you prepare yourself correctly.  
There are many youngsters like Anne, who are choosing teaching as a profession despite the lure of the corporate world.  Many of them have come into this vocation after qualifying in engineering, software, psychology, management and so on. They are excited about spending their working days with tiny tots or adolescents, getting tremendous satisfaction in shaping young minds.

Do you have it in you?
If you have been tempted with taking up teaching but are hesitant because of the earlier notions about the lack of financial rewards, do some introspection that will help you decide whether you fit in.
First, teaching requires passion not only to teach but also to learn, unlearn and upgrade at all times. You should genuinely enjoy the company of children, adolescents or young adults, whoever you plan to teach.  And, you must genuinely believe in the value of the subject you plan to teach.
Children of the 21st century are assertive, interesting and challenging for a capable teacher to interact with.  Unlike in earlier years, they have access to various sources of information and they like to question their teachers at every given opportunity.  A genuine teacher finds this very fascinating and uses it as an opportunity to keep learning. 

You will need to prepare yourself systematically by studying in good institutions and taking up the right courses.  You need to explore what courses and which colleges can prepare you for a fulfilling career in teaching.
“If you want to teach a child mathematics, it is not enough to know mathematics, you should also know the child,” said a wise man. Make the effort to understand child/ adolescent psychology, learn to empathise with them and enjoy their company.

Select carefully where and what you wish to teach, to lay the foundation for a long and fruitful career.  
Be ready to start small, but be part of a process or institution where the experience will help you climb the ladder and seek better avenues later.

Explore new avenues
International schools in India are paying salaries ranging from Rs 20,000 to Rs 60,000 to their teachers. Many private schools are also increasing their salaries and perks steadily.  Residential schools are providing very comfortable accommodation and free education to children of teachers. Beyond the traditional B.Ed. and D.Ed., many more courses are being offered to upgrade yourself (See Box).
There is also a steady increase in alternative schools, which are breaking free from the traditional ‘chalk and talk’ methodology, and applying the principle of ‘If a child cannot learn the way you teach, then he should be taught the way he can learn’.
Such schools look for passionate young people who love children, have a broader perspective towards life, and are willing to learn from the students as much as they teach them.

The field of education has lately broadened to encompass specialised teachers, who are experts in fields like computers, dramatics, music, yoga, art and craft, dance, aerobics, sports, nutrition, etc.  There are very good courses that provide expertise in many of these fields. 

For instance, Sports Authority of India offers training, right up to Masters level, for those who wish to upgrade themselves to Physical Education directors. Such specialised fields also allow teachers to decide whether to work full-time or part-time in a school, or whether to teach in different schools on different days of the week.

Online tutors
Teaching in the coming years will go beyond the four walls of the school.  Tutors-online are already teaching students in different continents through the computer and the webcam. The Azim Premji Foundation has been given permission to set up a Teaching University. 

Many corporates have set up their own training centres to upgrade their employees in language, soft skills and even etiquette. English Language Training Centres (ELTS) are mushrooming even in small towns.  As we realise the importance of giving a better future to the coming generations, teaching will become more and more of a lucrative vocation and very satisfying too.

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