Teachers are like parents; they need to be pleasant approachable and fun to be with! They need to have a face that is always smiling! Teachers who are smiling all the time are more likely to be successful! It goes without saying that good teachers are those who inspire confidence in their learners.
It is important for teachers to be approachable and definitely not intimidating. Students who dread and fear their teachers will never come to them with their doubts and queries. Their teachers forge ahead through the syllabus not knowing that serious gaps exist in their students’ understanding of key concepts. Exams and tests are only a few tools for testing students’ knowledge and understanding of concepts. A better real-time tool for assessing student learning is the constant feedback they get from students who feel at ease while talking to their teachers to get their doubts cleared.
In today’s times where learning in schools is more student led, it is very important for teachers to have the patience and the pleasantness to listen to all kinds of possible answers, and certainly not to snub students for wrong answers. In fact, wrong answers are a wonderful excuse to address new learning and to iron out common mistakes.
Smiling teachers connect better with their students, and it is this connectedness that builds up a relationship of trust, honesty, and sincerity. It is OK for teachers to smile at their students with genuine feelings, to make their students feel welcome and happy in the presence of their teachers. While climbing the stairs, to go to a class on another floor, I was lost in my thoughts about an issue when I was accosted by one of my students. She asked me, “Why are you so serious?” And I stopped in my steps and returned, “Oh, nothing! Just thinking about something!” The expression that a teacher has affects his students very strongly. There are teachers who are able to guide their students through their expressions.
Some of the common types of teachers and the expressions they wear include:
- Don’t Mess With Me! They have a rather caustic expression on their faces and are always scowling (They are more likely to get worry lines and wrinkles prematurely). They don’t like to be contradicted and are least likely to engage in a dialogue with their students not even a warning about submissions of notebooks for corrections.
- Miss Vulnerable: these are teaches who display their emotional vulnerability in a negative sense before their learners. They are afraid of facing their students, they are nervous and will make mistakes, each one works than the previous one, they end up tangled up in a mess no one would want to be in. Students can smell vulnerable teachers, and sure, they will go for the kill! These are the ones who will break in front of their students. They are lonely, lost in their own worlds of self-defeat and self-deprecation. I would say that they are suffering from the “I am missing Mommy” syndrome.
- Miss Flamboyant – they have all that jewelry flashing from all directions and are more likely to be more popular as page three divas, albeit past their prime, but nevertheless with aspirations of hogging the limelight. Unfortunately, their flamboyance might be a great distraction for students and an annoyance for other teachers, (“Who does she think she is, Chamakh Challo! Hindi for Miss Glamour). They are also in some cases the dainty ones.
- The Sloppy One – they are married to their subjects, least bothered about their appearance. They are the happy go lucky ones, absent-minded, and not aware about the breadcrumbs sticking to their shirts. They are fixed to their blackboards and go on with the lesson in a monotone voice often without being aware of students slipping in and out from the back door. Some of the more daring students might even launch a few missiles at their backside, a few of which might strike intended targets! My advice to them would be to let down their hair sometimes, visit the parlor, take a few classes on personal grooming after all the best is yet to be, one never knows there might be silent admirers from the fraternity!
- The Friendly Ones: they are teachers who get too close to their students and get their fingers burnt in the process. They will do anything in order to gain popularity amongst students, and they might also be more likely to ascend up the ladder of promotional success. They are so friendly that they know about the fights taking place in their students’ families, they know about the dishes that are being cooked in their students’ homes, and they are likely to know that Vera ran away with the milkman only to return a sorry figure after a day.
- The Firecrackers : their bark is as bad as their bite! Spewing fire and vitriol, they are best avoided from a distance. Learners quake in fear when the Firecracker arrives in class and woe betide those whose answers are not according to the set pattern. They are slaves to processes patterns and railway tracks (pun intended). In this case, there is a complete role reversal as it is the Firecrackers that launch missiles at cowering, hopeless victims whose work is “not up to the mark!”
Life is not bad in spite of the struggle in it, the life of a teacher is full of challenges and disruption. It is very important for teachers to enjoy their profession and to grow with their students. Being with young students can be a most empowering experience. When you meet your students with a smile, it smoothes out your journey. Teaching is a sublime profession, it is a spiritual process and one should treat the profession with good grace! A positive attitude, combined with the right amount of humility, vulnerability and the desire to learn will make you enjoy the teaching profession. To make pedagogy effective, you need to first connect to your learners. Your superior subject knowledge will take you nowhere unless students love you!