A teacher has the capacity to magically alter a boring and monotonous class environment into one that is bustling with enthusiasm, motivation and inspiration. She can do this by promoting a supportive classroom where she displays personal attributes that make her effective as a role model. A good teacher maintains a cheerful disposition, friendliness, emotional maturity, sincerity and a caring attitude towards students as individuals, as well as learners. She connects with and builds on the student’s prior knowledge and experiences. She strives to establish and maintain collaborative relationships with parents and encourages their active involvement in their children’s learning. She encourages students to work collaboratively and help one another, treating mistakes as natural parts of the learning process. She encourages students to ask questions without embarrassment and to contribute to lessons without fear of ridicule.
She begins and ends lessons on time and teaches her students how to get started quickly and maintain focus when working on assignments. She plans and prepares well to enable them to proceed through lessons smoothly. She carries out challenging activities which help students sustain their task engagement and minimise disruptions due to boredom or distraction. She is clear and consistent in articulating her expectations. She teaches students strategies and procedures for carrying out recurring activities. She focuses on building students’ capacity for managing their own learning.
She orients students to what they will be learning before the instruction begins. Before beginning any lesson or activity, she ensures that students know what they will be learning and why it is important for them to learn it. She indulges in a discourse to stimulate their thinking about the topic. She provides her students with well-structured and connected knowledge that can be learned and retained more easily. She elicits students’ responses regularly to stimulate active learning. She ensures that each step is mastered before moving to the next. She finishes with a review of the main points. She follows up with questions or assignments that require students to encode the material in their own words and apply or extend it to new contexts.
She augments test results with performance evaluations and observation checklists that call for higher-order thinking and application. She has high expectations of her students. She expects all her students to progress sufficiently to the next level. She holds all students accountable for participating in lessons and learning activities and for turning in completed work on assignments. She helps struggling students by giving them extra time, instruction and encouragement.
Teachers, by being sensitive towards the points mentioned above, can actually make the learning experiences of their students, treasured moments that will enable them to cherish their schooling experience, rather than seeing it as a mundane, tedious and cumbersome activity. Students exposed to dynamic learning in dynamic classrooms will bloom into individuals involved in higher thinking, critical analysis and logical appreciation, ultimately being capable of carrying their education forward and effectively applying it in real life situations, rather than being mere storehouses of inert knowledge.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 5th, 2011.
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