Develop harmony in the classroom

Develop harmony  in the classroom

As the academic year comes to an end, students get busy with preparing for annual exams and teachers either heave a sigh of relief for having ‘completed the portions’ or are in panic mode that they still need to complete the ‘revisions’. But, this is the time to review what has been achieved in the academic year and how to prepare for the next one.

Teachers

Do you think the students of your current batch are much more difficult to handle than those from earlier ones? If so, then you need to review your approach towards students — whether you are becoming rigid and distant from them. You have to understand that such feelings become reciprocal and they too start disliking you.

Please do a quick mental exercise. Think of one student in your present class who was either very mischievous or disturbing or in some way testing your patience. Now, within 30 seconds, write down five good qualities about that student. Done? If you could not think of five good qualities, then you are unable to look at students holistically. If you actually did it, congratulations! You have the ability to deal with the most difficult students, and you are likely to enjoy teaching as the years go by.

Review those with whom you had very good relationship, and list down the factors (more specifically, your contribution) that made it harmonious. Equally important is reviewing those with whom you could not get along very well. Be frank in admitting to yourself where your efforts were not enough, and how you can change your interactions and approach to ensure that such things will not repeat with the next batch.

Students are becoming more active, knowledgeable (thanks to the Internet), restless, and self-focused. These factors are good and bad. It is up to us teachers to take the good out of them and actually enjoy the fact that we no longer have to feed them with information, but can learn along with them, making our own workdays very interesting and allowing us to upgrade ourselves.

Here are a few simple tips to ensure that you begin the academic year 2017 on a more positive note:

Ensure that you take full advantage of the summer vacation, do some activities entirely for your own pleasure and relaxation, so that you come back de-stressed and raring to go.

Check on your grooming, presentation and method of greeting. Ensure that you are well-dressed with a smile. First impressions go a long way and can last the whole year.

Take interest in individual students — try to find out their names, background, likes and dislikes, and take a few minutes off every day by talking to them turn by turn beyond the class timing.

Understand the great power of listening. While you do most of the talking in class, listen with your eyes, and whenever possible, give an opportunity for the students to voice out their concerns.

Take ‘commercial breaks’ during classes, involving the students in group activities that build life skills, particularly awareness and management of emotions, interpersonal relations, empathy etc. There are good two-minute exercises and games available in life skills books and on the Internet.

Always have a positive attitude towards every student, even the troublesome ones. Getting angry with them only spoils your day, and at times even makes matters worse in the long run. Ensure that you are enjoying the time spent with the children.

Students
You may remember that you waited anxiously and thought about who your teachers would be when the academic year started. You had received some good feedback from seniors and some scary ones too. You sat through the first class not really learning anything, but carefully observing and trying to analyse how strict or friendly the teacher seems to be. You excitedly discussed with friends in the break and gave tentative comments and opinions to each other.

Now that the year is coming to an end, do you feel that you were a little too impulsive? It is possible that your opinion about some teachers has drastically changed during the past few months? Wherever that has been the case, be bold enough to admit it to yourself, and if possible, to the teacher also. This will help you part on a very positive note when the year comes to an end, and it will also equip you to deal with a new set of teachers.

In case you have had any teacher with whom you have just not been able to get along, this is the right time to review what went wrong. Now that you will be moving away from that teacher, perhaps you can look at the situation more holistically and rationally, without getting carried away by your anger. Truthfully list out where you went wrong, and how you could have made the relationship better. Remember that having a good relationship with your teachers is not to do a favour to them – it is for your own good. A lot of research has shown that when you connect well with a teacher, your learning is better and your scores, higher.

Here are some points that will help ensure that next year will be more enjoyable:
Don’t get carried away by rumours about a teacher. Form your own opinion after you have had sufficient interaction. It is easy to get carried away by gossip.

Keep your focus on the fact that you are there things to learn from the teacher. A teacher who is jovial and friendly is a joy to be with, but if the teacher is strict and grumpy, but teaches well, take the best from her.

Take a little trouble to meet up with a teacher (particularly the non-friendly one) individually, inquire about their welfare, tell them something about yourself, and build a one-on-one relationship.

Whenever you are scolded or punished, ask yourself truthfully if you deserved it. If yes, accept it gracefully, but if you feel ‘no’, then go and talk it over with the teacher and seek clarification.

Do not get influenced by classmates who talk badly about teachers, attribute motives to their actions, or tell you some teacher is biased or partial. You must observe carefully and form your own opinion.

(The author is founder & chairman, Banjara Academy, Bengaluru)

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