How the role of a teacher has evolved

How the role of a teacher has evolved

The role of a teacher has existed as long as mankind has but the definition of the role has evolved greatly over time. A teacher's job even 20 years ago was radically different from that of today. A teacher's role has changed from being a sage on the stage to becoming a facilitator of learning processes.

Their main job now is to set objectives and design the learning process, to enable learning to happen, unlike the past where the teacher was seen as the major source of knowledge and largely limited their role to be this source. A teacher today is a guide on the journey of learning, enabling students to be the best versions of themselves. Teachers elicit a response, challenge thinking, stretch the students' capability, provide tools to learn and create a psychologically safe and comfortable environment for learning.

In the past, teachers would typically teach a subject with the primary aim of ensuring the student scores well in exams. However, as the focus of education has changed to developing multidimensional skills in students, teachers now wear many hats. Teachers today have to do
so much more than 'teach', they are project managers, diplomats, planning managers, psychologists, counsellors, question paper setters, content specialists, mediators, curriculum designers, event organisers, designers of learning experiences and pedagogical leaders.

Optimising learning

Gone are the days of serious unapproachable teachers that students were conditioned to be scared of. The school environment today is animated with chatter and openness to explore and engage. Gone is the distant pedagogue. It is more common to hear a cheery 'Hi Ma'am' ringing down the corridor than a serious 'Good Morning Ma'am' revealing the informality in student-teacher interaction these days.

Teachers, today, don't just engage with students regarding the syllabus, they also engage with them on a deeper level about the learning process. This often requires them to act as guides and counsellors. Schools envision education as a holistic process and to this end, require teachers to develop multidimensional skills in their students. To do this, teachers need to help students learn in an optimal manner using methods that work best for them.

In the past, classroom learning was facilitated entirely using blackboards. Today, technology is beginning to enter classrooms with projectors and screens, and the installation of interactive panels to enhance the learning process. This is an exciting development for teachers as it allows them to enhance learning quality for their students through a blend of technology and research.

However, to effectively harness the power of this technology, teachers must become information technology experts. So, knowing how to use tools such as PowerPoint and overhead projectors can help teachers make learning more interactive and lively for students. Additionally, by familiarising themselves with the different technologies used in classrooms, teachers would be able to understand how to best use them to achieve different learning objectives.

Enabling professional growth

Good schools, like industry, have short-term and long-term plans, stringent deadlines, feedback mechanisms and professional development for staff. However, since the focus is on the development of individual skills, the emphasis is on coaching and mentoring.

The school environment encourages collaboration, cooperation and cohesion amongst teachers. This makes the school atmosphere a happy one while still enabling personal and professional growth, unlike the pressure cooker situation that exists in a industry which is unduly stressful and competitive, taking a toll on employees.

In addition to this, there are also benefits like a much better work-life balance with more holidays that allow teachers to devote some time for their families. Furthermore, teachers' salaries are better than they have ever been, although not yet comparable to higher-end industry salaries. And of course, we cannot forget one of the most important motivations for choosing the teaching career, personal fulfilment.

What can be more rewarding and inspiring than empowering a young person to reach his potential, exceed his or her own expectations and perform to his or her highest capacity? Teachers today do this, and so much more, harnessing multiple skill sets themselves to help create well-rounded, multidimensional, thoughtful citizens of tomorrow.

(The author is director, National Public Schools, Bengaluru)

 

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