The Belief of a Natural Teacher

At least once in life, a teacher must have surely thought whether they are natural teachers or they have to develop the skills to be one. We have heard our colleagues commenting that some of us have the flair of teaching our chosen subjects and some, no matter how much ever they strive, are unable to teach. Who is a Natural Teacher? A Natural Teacher is someone who can teach a particular subject with such finesse that he or she is described as a teacher who is born with the skill to teach. I am at least a teacher who is definitely not a natural teacher but striving to be one.

The first thing that comes in the minds of the faculty about a quality of a natural teacher is that of his or her teaching style. A natural teacher will ensure that all the students are brought together so that efforts are undertaken to work in teams which will assist in the co-operation with others in classrooms which will then aid in their work life. We must also scan the pedagogy adopted irrespective of the subjects taught. This include the approaches, methodologies and techniques utilized in teaching.

A Natural Teacher will incorporate all sorts of activities that are creative in nature in the class schedule. Thinking communities are formed by the natural teacher. This means that the student community are not just taught their subject but also made to think, question, analyse and apply their minds. Whatever have been discussed till now are superficial things. Haven’t we, the teaching community thought about our own teachers? How many of them do we recollect? What has made them special in our hearts?

When I thought about the above questions I found some qualities that were similar to most of them. These qualities still make my heart call them as my loving teachers. The first one among them is the connect some teachers had with their students. It is really unbelievable and enviable. They command not only the attention but also the respect from the students. These teachers do not need any external faculty to draw the student’s attention or discipline for themselves.

The natural teachers, secondly, deal with warmth amongst the student community. This really means a lot. It means that the teachers make sure that they unconditionally accept their students. They listen to the needs of the class actively, make eye contact and smile with them. These physical attributes are the first attraction or you can say the first impression in the minds of students on any teacher.

Emotional aspect is as much important as the physical one. A natural teacher must have the ability to keep aside his or her petty feelings, be with their class and empathize with their feelings. Spiritual quotient is also an intriguing aspect. We are also aiding in the formation of the character of students. We must realize the leadership angle of a teacher as we facilitate the children to make them figure out the manner to work out whatever they want in life instead of spoon feeding them.

The Natural Teacher strives hard so that there is an equilibrium between the needs & wants of the majority and the needs and wants of the minority in the class. I don’t believe that a natural teacher is born biologically. A person has to toil really hard to be called as one. He or she has to do a SWOT Analysis of oneself and work towards the goal.

Nevertheless, most of the teacher community thinks that Teaching is an art rather than science. This skill can definitely be learnt and gradually fine tuned in time. Natural teachers might be an expert who commands the classroom but is also a partner in the learning of students. We can also observe the fact that some teachers are in a better position to convey an idea in a lucid manner with lots of excitement.

Teachers must create a road map wherein their students can tread their academic journey with a clear mission. These students are then placed in the driver’s seat wherein they go through their study references with utmost seriousness. They get the liberty to practice multiple times. Students are also given timely feedback from their natural teachers. The progress in student’s learning can be witnessed in the way the course is planned and the climate or the environment in which they learn.

Therefore, being a natural teacher takes a lot of time, numerous experimentation, mindful reflection and rigorous coaching. All teachers must strive to be teachers of students in good spirit instead of just teachers of course content. Secretly, don’t we want our students to fondly remember us as a super teacher?

Reference:- 1. The Chronicle of Higher Education (chronicle.com)

2. teachertomsblog.blogspot.com

Penned by – Livea Thekkekara Paul works as an English Lecturer at International School of Management Excellence, a leading private B-school in Bengaluru, India.

Namaste-Vanakkam: Tackling North-South Divide in Class

“Ma’am, they are speaking in Hindi only. Can you please tell them to speak in English.”

“Ma’am, in my group all are from Tamil/ Telugu Nadu so they crack jokes in their tongues. I feel left out”

The above are some of the dialogues that I hear constantly from my students, every academic year. Though the title of the article reflects the northern and the southern parts of our country, this write-up also encompasses the sentiments from other states. The feeling is mutual even when they are harboured against each other. I wonder whether only I have encountered this matter being a language teacher. Did other subject teachers experience this? No idea, may be yes, may be no. Atleast, being a language teacher and that also English one, makes me ponder on it a lot.

What do you mean by North-South Divide? When students belonging to a particular class tend to form a group based solely on their mother-tongue or home state and do not mingle with other state students, a divide in them is observed. As this divide is mostly seen amongst the north and south state students, I have termed this as a North –South Divide. One must note that this notion is also observed in students coming from other states too.

I have observed in classes that students from one mother-tongue and or a particular state, form a group in class and outside. First of all, students in all likelihood will sit in groups. The early signs of divide comes from here. They feel homely when they sit as per their home state. Whenever any teacher gives them a group work, their groups will be formed on those lines. Similar linguistic background will be the criteria scholars will consider on those occasions. Most of the times, teachers do not interfere in this group formation.

Scholars have to “communicate” or interact with each other for the completion of their work as mingling is unavoidable. It is also a noticeable trend amongst students to speak in their language rather than in the official language, English. All the students are not comfortable in expressing their thoughts in English. If some are good in doing the physical work or back end jobs or writing/gathering information then some are only good at speaking. This is how one can argue that learners will learn ‘teamwork’. But in this, a teacher can easily identify the disturbing trend of some pupils falling apart that is not able to gel together. They are also in the loss of learning the skill of teamwork.

Most of the students don’t socialize with other language groups. They are averse to these ‘other’ students. If students are observed carefully outside the classroom then you can see startling facts. Pupils will hardly hang out outside their circle. If they meet up in a café or a park, one can observe that class dynamics are observed here too. Social Platforms are no different either.

What are the effects of the language divide? Students who are not well in English become comfortable in their own mother tongue. By the end of their degree program they realize that they have not improved their skills, English being one of them. They do not utilize the sources or time when they were studying. Rejections in interview will be a tight slap or a wake-up call for most of the students. They will then sit down and start thinking one by one as to what wrong they did, what did the college not do for them, where all they could have worked  harder, etc. The last question will be the last thought that will come in their mind for most of them.

As teachers, what can we do to narrow down this North-South Divide? The first thing any teacher must pay attention is to how are students sitting in class? Do they always sit in the same group every class? If that is so then teachers must discourage it. There must be some system wherein students sit with each other with a different pupil like the ones followed in school where every day row wise students change their seating pattern. Moreover, teachers must mix the members of a cluster. No groups must be repeated for any activity both for a subject and others too. This is really a headache but if teachers patiently pay attention then mixing amongst students will happen in a healthy way.

Teachers must converse only in English even when they are tempted to speak in their mother tongue. This should be followed not only in class but also outside otherwise students will feel that their teacher shows partiality. They must encourage pupils to speak only in English and also simultaneously correct their ward’s spoken English. Students must be made aware of showing respect to other state people. This will happen only if they are guided appropriately in class. Group work are the starting point for learning all the skills together.

It is a waste of time if teachers complain by the end of their semester teaching that students can’t speak in English, write in English and can’t do a presentation properly. All these things can’t be rectified by a teacher alone. All the teachers must participate in student development right from the beginning of the academic year. It is tedious but not impossible. Teachers are humans. They cannot change herd mentality but can alter a bit of student’s thinking and behaviour. Hopefully, teachers manage to tackle the North-South divide in their respective classes.

Penned by – Livea Thekkekara Paul works as an English Lecturer at International School of Management Excellence, a leading private B-school in Bengaluru, India.

 

 

 

Infobesity: an increasing menace among students

I encountered the word infobesity during chats with one of my best friends who brought up the same when we were discussing about the issues facing our students. The word was catchy and I was curious to know more. As I gathered more information, I was disturbed. What is Infobesity? Infobesity is when a person gets overwhelmed with an overload of information. This makes the concerned person unable to make rational decisions.

The word Infobesity is a blended form of two words: information and obesity. A person who is affected by the same is known to be infobese. My friend was telling me how when she had instructed her class to give presentation about a certain topic, the students were unable to do justice to the presentation. My students were also in the same boat. I had directed them to give a presentation on their favourite OTT Web series by doing a thematic & media analysis and later give a write-up of the same. My intention was to check their presentation and written skills.

Apart from the usual mistakes here and there, the most glaring aspect was the way the students had disseminated their information in both oral and written form. Most of them had not applied their minds in a sense that they did not have their own opinion. They did not go beyond the data they gathered. Some of them did give a fabulous presentation but to analyse the particulars critically was not a priority. Students just regurgitate whatever they came across.

Nowadays, it’s easy to get information at our fingertips. It is essential to process facts and not just gather them. One gets details in bulk from varied sources. He or she must read, scan and shuffle through them. In continuation with this, one must avoid unnecessary facts by including relevant details in both written and oral forms. For all the above activities it is indispensable to allocate and focus time on such endeavours.

The pupils devote their time on television and phones. The hours dedicated to screen time is alarming. Teachers witness a lot of behavioural changes amongst students. Children have become aggressive in their response. Signs of irritability can be seen in them. The undergraduates have it difficult to pay an undivided amount of time and focus on pertinent piece of information. These are the effects of infobesity.

What is the fix for the evils of infobesity? Students must restrict their screen time. They must opt for healthier alternatives. They should be made aware of the changing personality traits. Students should be directed to prioritize and focus on essentials. Development of critical thinking must be developed. They can step back from the daily flood of data.

Sophomores must be encouraged to have their own opinions. They should not be made fun of their failures. Instead, they should be taught how to present their ideas systematically. This encompasses both oral & written forms. Whenever pupils present the facts without applying their minds, teachers must not accept their submissions. Their assignments should be returned. Following this, teachers must point out their mistakes and question their work critically so that learners are guided in the right direction.

Hence, Infobesity is an increasing menace amongst students. We have seen how infobesity stresses them. It is hoped that the concerned stakeholders take note and help students in reaching to a solution. It is interesting to note that infobesity is not just found in students but also amongst adults from various walks of life. This concept is also being researched and startling results are being found.

Penned by – Livea Thekkekara Paul works as an English Lecturer at International School of Management Excellence, a leading private B-school in Bengaluru, India.