Thoughts on this Teachers’ Day – Teachers go beyond Teaching
Recently we celebrated Teachers’ day, a day that marks the birthday of Dr. S Radhakrishnan, our former president, and a revered teacher. Usually, this day is highlighted with cards, flowers, and notes from students. But these two years were a contrast to the usual fanfare of the past. I woke up to the warm online messages from my students – wall posts, e-cards, texts, presentations, and videos – a reflection of how COVID has changed our world. Which also made me reflect on how my role as a teacher evolved in these times – beyond teaching.
Platforms like Youtube have democratized learning – students get access to lots of information with a click, and with online classes, their access has increased exponentially. This shift in learning pattern is shaping my role as an enabler where I am helping students arrive at the learning objectives rather than starting with the traditional approaches. I lay the premise and students share examples from what they have read or viewed to build on the topic and enrich the concept. This approach increases my engagement with the class and also enables better learning for students.
School closures and online education have limited interpersonal interactions in a big way. How often do your students stay back after the class and talk about their pet, a new plant, or a painting, or a new Lego robot? Now, teachers are perceived more as a friend. While these interactions allow students to talk about interesting things in their lives, it’s an opportunity for me to engage with students personally and build a stronger bond. It also helps me bring some contextual examples in during my class.
The fear of viruses has led to students spending a lot of time indoors and in front of screens. One of the key areas where we need to focus is the overall health of the students. We need to think of ourselves as wellbeing advisors. Like, I asked students tocultivate some healthy habits like doing Yoga and drinking adequate water. And in classes, I make students take a break with a quick intensity exercise or a 30-second off-screen time, or a grounding exercise. It plays an important part especially when students are going through a lot of stress due to the changes in lifestyle.
As S Radhakrishnan famously said “the teachers should be the best minds of the country”, we need to continually evolve and go beyond the established to be the best for our students.