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MESSAGE FOR TEACHERS’ DAY
In India 5th September is celebrated as Teachers’ day. 5th September is the birthday of a great teacher Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan. When Dr. Radhakrishnan became the president of India in 1962, some of his students and friends approached him and requested him to allow them to celebrate 5th September, his “birthday”. In reply, Dr, Radhakrishnan said, “instead of celebrating my birthday separately, it would be my proud privilege if September 5th is observed as Teachers’ day”. The request showed Dr.Radhakrishnan’s love for the teaching profession. From then onwards, the day has been observed as Teachers’ Day in India.
On Teachers’ Day, and on any other day for that matter, the basic message that a teacher needs to receive is quite simple. “We appreciate you”.
Teachers mold the lives that they influence. Lessons learned from teachers remain with their students throughout life. Teachers that break down barriers and reach into the souls of the students that they are responsible for do not get the recognition or gratitude they have earned. Many teachers are exhausted from their workload and responsibilities. They have their own families, financial and life stresses that challenge them along with everyone else. We should always respect our teachers. Teachers need encouragement and support from the community to feel that their devotion to students is appreciated.
If you are not a teacher, take a few moments today to consider why you did not choose this profession. What would it take in your own country to attract and prepare someone like yourself for such a commitment? How might someone like you best respond to the learning needs of children, especially those who face discrimination, such as girls? If, on the other hand, you are already a member of the teaching profession, rest assured that the entire Nation support and defend your rights and understand the full weight of your responsibilities.
“Be all that you can be. Find your future–as a teacher.”
TEACHERS – WOW !!!
Hats off to this (and all the other conscientious teachers like her). However, it would be good to remember that full parental involvement – since day one – in every aspect of a childs education is vital for the childs success. It would be a folly for parents who provide less than their share of responsibilities expecting all teachers to be as conscientious as this teacher in preparing a child to meet lifes challenges. —–
At an official function, the dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life.
One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued, “What’s a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?”
To stress his point he said to another guest; “You’re a teacher, Sheela, Be honest. What do you make?”
Sheela, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied, “You want to know what I make? (She paused for a second, and then began…)
“Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I make a C+ feel like the Congressional Medal of Honor winner.
I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents CAN’T make them sit for 5 without an I Pod, Game Cube or movie rental.
You want to know what I make? (She paused again and looked at each and every person at the table)
I make kids wonder. I make them question.
I make them apologize and mean it. I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions.
I teach them to write and then I make them write. Keyboarding ISN’T EVERYTHING.
I make them read, read, read.
I make them show all their work in maths. They use their God given brain, not the man-made calculator.
I make my students from other countries learn everything they need to know about English while preserving their unique cultural identity.
I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe.
Finally, I make them understand that if they use the gifts they were given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life (Sheela paused one last time and then continued.)
Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, with me knowing money isn’t everything, I can hold my head up high and pay no attention because they are ignorant.
You want to know what I make. I MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
What do you make Mr. CEO? His jaw dropped, he went silent.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH OUR SCHOOL’S ? – a Teacher’s Perspective!
In the light of all the discussions, seminars, and workshops that we have attended to find some insight and guidelines for teachers to deal with ‘the problems’ we face in school, and in the context of the new law ‘Right to Education’, a teacher’s role has to be redefined.
Teachers, students, parents, administrators, politicians, everybody recognizes that there is something dreadfully wrong with our schools. School were begun with great hopes for the future. They have become one of our greatest economic burdens and social concerns.
Many different approaches have been made to the problem. Prestigious national commissions have issued voluminous reports. New teaching methods have been introduced in almost every subject. New text books and curriculum guidelines have been published along modern lines.
The problem as stagnation:
Teachers know very well that public leaders are very upset with the job they are doing Students also sense that schools need not be dull, boring and unhappy places. Yet things rarely change.
Here I recall a staff-meeting wherein Director Sir, described the situation in our school as ‘stagnation’. Flowing water is beautiful, joyful, clear, musical and useful, stagnant water is ugly, dirty, depressing, dull and
often putrid and dangerous. The question then is how to get the stagnant water moving again?”
The only solution to stagnation is to continually throw out the old and bring in the new. Certainly uncritical stagnation is very bad. Most of us teachers teach the way we were taught. We teachers must take the lead in criticizing what we have been doing and in seeking new ways to do what we should be doing.
The problem as spiritual.
Are teachers content to endure the drudgery and boredom for the sake of a regular salary? Are students content to endure the boredom for the sake of certificates? Which will qualify them for higher studies, greater prestige and better jobs? Does any of us care enough to work for change?
It is therefore a problem of the Will – only teachers who cares enough will be willing to make the effort to change. Only a teacher who wants to be a good teacher will be a good teacher. Only a person who loves to teach children will truly teach them. Only a changed person will be a changed teacher. Only change teachers will change our schools – our school.
Here again, I recall an incident when a teacher told me that she felt she is wasting time in school, neglecting her children and feels that she is happier with her children than at school, which will never change. Did she attempt to change anything? Why did she join the institution — just for the salary.
What do we live for? Is our concern only for ourselves or for our family? What is our purpose in life? Do we have a higher, broader and deeper calling in life? Perhaps, the first step in truly becoming a teacher of children is to truly become a child of God. What is God’s call for the teachers?
God calls us to work in his world, to participate in His work of restoring fallen creation. How does school education fit into that work? What is the divinely arranged system of education?
Parents as Teachers:-
The first and fundamental teachers of every child are its parents. 75% of the child’s basic personality has been formed by the time he finishes his fifth year of life. Parents are the divinely appointed teachers of children. .
The home is the divinely established schools.
The school becomes an extension of the home as the child grows up. The teacher – the extension of the parent. The school – ‘home’ and the teacher ‘parent’ may be the only channels of Gods’ love and guidance in the lives of some unfortunate children.
Teachers as Parents:-
Teachers are ‘parents’ to the children of their classroom. The growth and maturity of dozens of children have been entrusted into their hands. It is a fearful responsibility and a wonderful opportunity.
For better or for worse, those children will be deeply influenced by their school ‘parent’. The teacher cannot avoid affecting his students.
Teachers as public servants /Govt. Servants.
Some teachers argue, “We serve the hands that feed us”. “We will do what is necessary to get our salary,” such impersonal thinking is one of the greatest dangers to society and one of the reasons for our educational stagnation. The teacher is much more than an office clerk. The teacher deals with live persons, not dead papers. The teacher affects impressionable children, not hardened adults. The teacher is a servant of the family, paid by the authority. Once the teacher sees his work as a divine calling, his whole goal in the class-room changes.
THE ROLE OF THE TEACHER.
1. The Schooling Role
2. The Evocative Role.
3. The Moral Role.
1. The schooling Role:-
In this role the teacher is primarily a servant of the organization/government. His responsibilities is to help students pass exams and get their certificates. The teacher will give students the necessary information and the necessary examination skills so that they will be successful in school.
The authorities (Govt. officials/school authorities) parents and students often evaluate a teacher only on his success as a schooling agent.
Often school inspectors don’t care what kind of methods are used by a teacher, just so he produces results (i.e. – a high percentage of passes on the examination). Today, this has become the talk of most people. The highest percentage of pass mark, the best school).
The sincere teacher definitely will want his students to do well in their examinations. In fact, he will make a special effort on behalf of the poor and backward students, for he knows that these students may have no other way out of their poverty if they fail in school.
2. The Evocative Role:– The teacher is to draw out of his students the gifts God has placed in them at birth. We all had one or two teachers who have played an evocative role in our lives. Perhaps it was just an encouraging remark about the way we sang, or about an essay we wrote or about the way we argued in a debate or the way he/she delivered a speech. It was just one word, but we always remember it. These were our turning points. From those experiences we gained a new appreciation of our self and a new direction in life.
Today, we can be such an evocative agent in the lives of our school children. We can perceive a child’s special talents and weakness much more clearly and easily than the child’s home parents.
The interested teacher can provide regular opportunities for her children. Science-exhibitions, debates, one-act plays, elocutions, drawing competitions, talent-rights etc. could be organized, Channelize them on these, and see the ‘small wonders’ perform surprising feats.
3. The Moral Role.: Moral education should take place during every class period. The way the teacher handles discipline problems, the way the text books speaks about wars, the way the teacher prepares for class, the way controversial issues are discussed the way the teacher moves with the students and his colleagues, all ‘teach’ morality. Every teacher ‘parent’ like every home parent – is a moral instructor every minute of the day. Children watch every move of respected adults. They are learning morality all the time.
THE STRANGE WORLD OF THE CLASS ROOM.
As schooling agent, evocative agent and moral agent the ‘Parent’ teacher must have a sympathetic understanding of the children in his classroom. School life is not easy for children, especially for children in the early grades and for children from undisciplined homes.
The pre-school child’s social learning takes place in the context of his play with other children. A place where children are playing together often is the place where very deep and meaningful education is occurring. But when he goes to school, what is learning is completely different from any learning he has done or will ever do outside the school.
Learning now is not play: it is work. Learning is not spontaneous and adventuresome; it is often routine and boring. The child does not learn what he is interested in. He learns what the teacher tells him to learn. He learns from books, not from real life. He is not allowed to learn from other children. That is “cheating” now.
His natural curiosity rather than being his major aid in learning now often becomes a major obstacle in classrooms learning.’ The student is to think about class matters, and not to be curious about many other things. He is to ‘pay attention’. He is to answer questions, not to ask them.
The geographical arrangement of the classroom itself is such in our classrooms that it many a times wrecks the child’s mental and moral growth. They lead to fight for space rather than do the actual learning. The iron benches without arms or back rests breeds restlessness in children and add to the frustrations of students.
THE UNWRITTEN RULES OF THE CLASS ROOM: –
Besides having to subdue his basic instincts the child in school must adjust to a whole new set of social rules. Some of these may be recorded in the school diary. Most of these rules are not recorded. They are ‘unwritten rules’ of the classroom life:-
1. RULE OF POSSESSION:- The teacher has the right to handle anything possessed by the students. Students may only see or touch that which the teacher allows.
2. Rule of evaluation: Teachers evaluate students, but students are not to evaluate teachers. The teacher may scold a student for coming to class late or unprepared, for example but not vice-versa.
3. Rule of Questions: Students may ask questions for clarification or for new information. Questions which challenge the teacher’s statement or test the teacher’s knowledge are not welcomed.
4. Rule of reaction : The teacher is to act first, the student to react.
5. Rule of authority:- The teacher determines how the classroom activities shall proceed. A student has no voice in how school is conducted.
6. Rule of activity: The teacher is to teach and the students are to learn. In practice this means that the teacher is to talk and the students to listen.
7. Rule of emotions:- The expression of emotion in the classroom is allowable only if so indicated by the teacher; in particular, emotional speech and anger are forbidden on the part of students.
8. Rule of distance: The teacher and the student stay geographically distant. The area behind the desk belongs to the teachers. Students do not touch the teacher. They also stay separate from each other.
9. Rule of Language.: The language of ordinary conversation is not used in the classroom. But ironically in our school children do use it at times. They even use abusive/foul language.
10. Rule of rules: If a student does not obey the unwritten rules of the classroom, he is excluded. This exclusion may mean simple avoidance by the teacher or it may mean total dismissal from school.
All of the above frustrations and conflicts are faced by children as they go from teacher to teacher in their school life. As school ‘parents’ of our children we must seriously question if this kind of school life is really justifiable – either educationally or morally.
Therefore, three requests of every classroom teacher in this regard-
1. First, sympathetically realize the difficulties of the students in conforming to these strange and peculiar patterns of learning and human interaction. For some older students these unwritten rules raise serious questions of social justice and human dignity.
2. Secondly, critically evaluate the pattern of learning and interaction in our classrooms. Are there ways in which the students’ natural curiosity could be utilized to increase classroom learning? Are there unwritten rules operating which are hindering wholesome growth? (Proper Lesson –planning by teachers should deal with this aspect.)
3. Thirdly, critically evaluate if the world of our classroom is helping or deterring us in fulfilling our roles as evocative agent and moral agent in the lives of our students.
The outcome of the solutions to the Problems was dealt by Ms. Mini Joseph refer to—-
STUDENT FRUSTRATIONS IN THE CLASSROOM & HOW A TEACHER SHOULD HANDLE THE PROBLEM:-
The first thing we must realize is that every child is a different emotional organism. Different children will react in different ways and to different degrees to the same frustrating experiences.
Constructive ways of releasing frustration are not taught in the home, so the school-parent must take up the responsibility. The proper control and channeling of emotions is essential for good learning. The wrong release of pent-up frustrations is the cause of so many harmful activities.
A few suggestions:-
1. Physical Exercise: Both boys and girls must be encouraged to develop at least one kind of physical exercise.(such as gardening, running, walking, badminton, tennis, dancing, calisthenics, swimming, chess, throw-ball, hand-ball, football, cricket etc.) as a habit all through life.
2. Competition: Organized competition also is an effective way to channelize built-up frustrations competition through debates, rival study groups, educational contests etc. also help children enthusiastically channel energies in educational activities.
3. Talk Sessions: Weekly open talk sessions in which a trusted outsider is invited to a private discussion with the students. In this discussion the students can express freely all their complaints and difficulties. Just talking about these frustrations is a way of releasing them.
4. Classroom Recreation:- Every teacher should know a number of brief blackboard and classroom games which she/he can use strategically during the school day. When she/he sees most of the class is losing concentration, she can use such five-minute indoor games to help the students quickly ‘let off steam’ and then get back to work.
5. Classroom atmosphere: The teacher can reduce much frustration by accommodating group projects and research. The teacher can use physical activities and much more if she really cares.
Every experienced teacher accumulates her own “bag of tricks” which she uses to positively motivate the students in their studies.
The Process of Moral Growth: – Guidelines for teachers, it is important to realize that children will be coming into the classroom from all kinds of homes. Their levels of intelligence, training and experience will be different. Some will be quite mature in their moral judgments and others will be still in stage one. However, there is much the ‘parent’ teacher can do to his children in their moral development.
1. Regular school group activities like games, clubs, and informal discussions can be used to encourage positive moral knowledge, judgment and behavior. The teacher can also use specific classroom techniques like role-playing, debates and discussions on current or past events to broaden the child’s social experience, sense of empathy and moral understanding.
2. Basic Honesty: Honesty is one of the foundation stones of moral growth. Teacher parents will take all lying seriously. Yet, teachers in each grade should be careful not to judge too harshly the telling of lies.
3. Relation to Home Discipline: The teacher will have to keep in touch with the children’s homes, especially if a child is developing little more understanding.
4. Moral Growth through discussions: Having them discuss freely certain moral issues (eg. Murder in self-defense, lying to protect a friend from marauding soldiers, the cause of misfortunes etc.)
5. The Problem of the will : Morality is at root level a matter of the Will. God has given Man the freedom of decision, and He will never violate that freedom. This freedom is man’s greatest glory and his greatest danger. Parent and teachers can only guide children by counsel and example.
Character Formation in Adolescence: Some Specific Suggestions.
Finally, let me offer some specific suggestions for high school teachers as they try to guide their students through the personal and moral problems of adolescence.
1. The teacher who can be of greatest help to adolescents is the one who himself has faced the deep issues of life seriously and has found a meaningful place in the world.
2. The greatest sin in the eyes of youth is hypocrisy. A teacher who wants to guide and inspire youth must be honest about his own feelings and failings.
3. In working with youth a teacher must be prepared to be ruthlessly tested and challenged. Youth will want to be sure of the caliber of their leader before they commit themselves. It is great opportunity and a great obligation to be chosen by a young person as his model, his hero, his parent.
4. The high school teacher should determinedly set high ideals before his students. They want to be challenged to the limits of their potentialities. He should be willing to enter into an equal debate with his students. They will be happy to be respected for their thoughts, and even happier to be shown deeper insights into the truth.
5. Adolescence is the age of deep religious searching’s. The committed teacher can be of great help—both by example and by guidance—in a youths’ religious maturation. Youth are seeking deep and trustworthy personal relationships. This they can find fully in God.
They also can come to a deep conviction of His purpose for their lives and of their high identity as His called children. He is the ultimate parent.
6. A basic principle in dealing with youth is to emphasize the positive. Youth need to become a way of their positive potentialities. Over-criticism and shaming will only cause them to find an identity in rebellion against society. Call a teenager a ‘rogue’, and he is likely to become just that for you.
7. The whole question of instruction in sexual matters must be considered seriously. Who is to do it and how? Should the ‘parent’ teacher serve this purpose if home parents are failing?
8. During this years the evocative role of the teacher takes on greater importance. Students want to know what their inner talents and potentialities are . Teachers can be of immense help to youth by pointing out their strengths and potentialities. He can also advise them and their parents as to avenues of future vocation.
9. During these years some youth from good families will experiment wrongly with ideologies, the opposite sex, groups of friends, etc. The worst thing to do is to condemn and reject them. their search for self-identity should be under-stood, and they should be clearly shown the uselessness and danger of their experiment.
10. Finally, two groups mentioned above deserve special attention: troubled youths from the upper and lower social classes and troubled youths of great talent and sensitivity. The teacher should sympathetically recognize the peculiar difficulties these youths are facing and offer a steady, helping hand. Helping a few such youths to direct their talents to God’s purpose for society may be the greatest contribution a teacher makes in his lifetime.
Discipline Vs. Disciplining.
In summary the moral alternatives of r classroom discipline might be
illustrated by the following of contrasts:
a) Do we discipline students just to keep classroom order or also to promote moral growth?
b) Do we morally train children for an attitude of obedience and fear or for an attitude of independence and self-discipline?
c) Do we act as legislators, prosecutors, judges, and police for classroom rules or do we act as guides and examples of moral maturity?
d) Do we make the students adjust to our convenience or do we adjust to children’s needs?
e) Do we constantly point out student’s weaknesses and failures (‘Bad Me’) or do we constantly emphasize their strengths and successes (‘Good Me’)?
f) Do we scold and punish students who lack basic school skills or do we give them special attention and encouragement?
g) Do we force children to bottle up their emotions or do we provide times and ways for them to release their emotions?
h) Do we force children to study by our threats and scolding or do we inspire them to study by our own skill and example?
i) Do we punish when angered by a student’s behavior or do we punish only out of deliberate concern and only when an accepted rule is violated?
j) Do we always publicly punish disobedient students or do we first deal with discipline problems in private discussions?
k) Do we deal with discipline problems only as school problems or also as home and environmental problems?
l) Do we educate village children for ‘ideal’ urban office jobs only or also for meaningful and satisfying rural life?
m) Do we teach primarily for tests or for learning?
n) Do we expect bright and dull students to conform to the average norm or do we make special arrangements for exceptional students?
o) Do we label problem students as bad or do we accept hem as special challenges?
These contrasting positions do reflect the mindsets of different teachers. These also answers the questions and doubts that we teachers raise from time to time regarding school discipline and it does give us guidelines to solve the various problems and issues that we teachers have raised. Each of us must ask what our goals are in the classroom, for whom and what do we live? Are we ready gladly to accept our position as ‘parent’ to dozens (and eventually hundreds) of children? Is this God’s high calling for our life.