Teacher The Potter
Teacher The Potter
I didn’t choose the title because it rhymes but because both the teacher and the potter play almost a similar role in the sense of creating something unique. Being a teacher is a very creative job. Students are like clay in hands of a teacher who can shape them into independent and confident individuals or into reclusive rebels. Though there are other external causes that can influence a child in going a particular path in life, a teacher’s role in molding the character of an individual is undeniable.
Definitely we cannot overlook the fact that a teacher plays a pivotal role in the life of a child. They have such great influence that it goes to the extent of students liking or hating a particular subject. I remember in my schooldays that I hated Math and used to get petrified before a Math exam - not because I was dumb, but looking back I can definitely say that to a certain extent it was due to my teacher. My teacher failed to trigger the thought processes needed to solve the math problems. In the words of Kahlil Gibran “The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind”.
Yes, I may be strong in one subject or like some subject over the other but the teacher should make it a point to make any subject interesting.
There are other instances where a teacher’s remark - like you are useless, dumb, you are weak, look at the other student he is so good etc - can leave a scar in minds of a student for a lifetime, leaving them impaired with inferiority complex, which may be very difficult to deal with in the later stages. Teachers have to be encouraging and supportive.
It doesn’t mean that one should stop being appreciative of someone who is good, but teachers should be adept at doing the balancing act of providing praise and constructive criticism. We were taught during our training period that while pointing out students’ weaknesses, point out their strengths first and then their weak points. Such conversations are easier if you offer to help them in their areas of weaknesses and are available for them in their times of need. You can be the favorite teacher but never indulge in having a favorite student.
Here are a few points for consideration if you want to be good in the teacher’s profession:
Even before studying for the profession, be sure that you want to take up teaching because your decision impacts the lives of a number of students.
Take up the profession only if you have the passion and dedication for teaching, because the job can be stressful, and these days students are very intelligent and sharp. At times they can leave you flabbergasted by the kind of questions they come up with.
Take up the job only when you have the compassion to work with children, because every student comes from a different background and sometimes come with emotional baggage from stressful homes. You have to take the responsibility of teaching them right values and shaping then into confident individuals.
You have to be aware of which age group you are dealing with, because each age group has different demands:
Tiny tots or the pre-primary students want a teacher who is patient, caring and is like a mother at school, to help them deal with the emotional stress of leaving their secure homes for the first time.
While Working With Primary children you have to be somewhat mature, as they are looking at you as that idol that they want to become when they grow up. At times you have to be firm and at other times you need to guide them on how to tackle problems in a particular subject, as well as in general aspects of studying - how to memorize key points in a subject, how to write their answers etc. Since these are the formative years you have to help them to know their strengths and help them to work on their weaknesses.
At High School and Secondary School levels, a teacher has to be a real friend. By this time the students would have decided what subjects they want to take, and you have to help and guide them to achieve their goals, many times even help them identify their goals. You have to show them what options are available for choosing a particular field. You can direct them to student counselors if the need arises. At this stage in their lives, you cannot impose your opinion on them but can just guide them as a friend; otherwise they will stop communicating with you. As C.B Neblette put it, "Teachers should guide without dictating, and participate without dominating."
A teacher should be well versed in his/her subject and should in general definitely know more than their students, whichever group they are dealing with. Students in general are very sensitive and they are aware of your every move. They can sense when you are not confident. One has to be well prepared before taking any class. I remember an anecdote where we were taught cultural heritage by a teacher, who used to simply memorize her subject notes before coming in to the class. Any time a student asked her any question she had to start from the beginning. Some of the boys in the class were very naughty and they used to ask her doubts at regular intervals, much to mirth of the entire class. Never get into such embarrassing situations. It is better to say you will get back with the answer, or you can call the students separately to clear their doubts. “A good teacher is like a candle that consumes itself to light the way for others.”
Let me conclude this piece with a quote from Carl Jung: “One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.”