Published in The Border Mail on 31st August 2020
Who is the most effective teacher? The one who sets high expectations. She maintains order and control. She is goal oriented. She sets accountability of behaviour. She establishes high standards through regular assessments aligned with practice and drill. She challenges her students academically. Consequently, high quality work is produced and mean scores elevate. The environment breeds accomplishment. But, does she have an internal focus? Does she have strong relationships with her students? Does she have student centred approach? No!
Maybe, the effective teacher is the one who is supportive. She develops a relationship of mutual respect with her students. She is caring and inculcates a sense of belonging. However, in the process of nurturing her relationships, is she able to maintain a stable environment to obtain improved learning outcomes? Is she able to maintain the structure of her classroom to meet daily goals? Does she have an efficient management style? No!
May be, an effective teacher is the one who maintains discipline, possess content knowledge and increases student efficiency. But, is she adaptable to changing classroom needs? Is she a visionary? Does she experiment? Is she relevant and enthusiastic to use creative means of teaching? No!
Then, who are we looking for? Who will influence our nations future for the better? Our finest teacher can’t be any one of the characters we described above. She must be all of them! Yes, all of them. She must have both internal and external focus. She should maintain order and control. She must set high expectations and yet have continuous improvement. She must maintain a stable environment and yet develop strong relationships. Why? Because if there are no expectations then there is no progress. The students will be forever complacent. If there is no open communication between teacher and students, then there is no room for support and belonging. If the students don’t feel at home, they will be stressed. Learning cannot be conducive under tension.
Student-centred approach initiates collaboration towards learning. Strong content knowledge is essential. But adaptability towards high potential or low potential students is imperative. Yearning for knowledge is vital where the students and teacher can explore together. Mutual respect and support are essential where the students and teacher can find answers together. There should be a structure and accountability of behaviours and routines. Yet there should be room for creativity and experimentation. This will empower the students to take charge of their own learning.
There should be a focus on high quality work and academic achievement. But it will not come to fruition without the teacher’s vision and enthusiasm towards her students’ growth. This enthusiasm will not influence the students unless the teacher is passionate about learning herself. Are we expecting too much from our effective teacher?
We produce polished doctors and engineers. We expect the former to have knowledge of the working of the human body on their fingertips. We expect them to be great communicators in order to develop a relationship of trust with their patients. We expect them to be able to research and learn to make the right diagnosis. The latter are expected to be technically sound and inventive. We want them to innovate in order to progress scientifically. We complain that they are not great communicators and embed business communication courses in their degrees. But they don’t deal with all and sundry like our teachers. We expect both doctors and engineers to be structured and organised for maximum efficiency. Then, why not our teachers? Their onus is greater than these professionals. While doctors and engineers are essential to our survival and innovation, teachers are essential to their very creation.
We develop sophisticated lawyers. We expect them to be erudite and eloquent. We expect them to be assertive and not aggressive. We dig compassion and empathy in them. Then, why not in our teachers? Their job is to develop all these traits in the youth of the nation. The youth that will be our future lawyers.
Are the teachers only invested in nurturing the intellectuals and high achievers? If this was the case, then we should train only those who teach in high potential programs. Don’t we need a world full of compassionate empathetic individuals? Don’t we need our future generation to continuously improve intellectually and emotionally irrespective of where they begin their journey? Don’t we want every human in this world to learn and progress no matter what demographics they come from? If we want to improve the overall efficiency of this world, we must invest in training our teachers. For they mould our future. They create our intellectuals, our policy makers, our teachers, our labourers and our mothers.
Teachers are no less than engineers, doctors and lawyers. Why should they be? Without them, there will be no greatness and eminence in this world.
About the writer…
Ayesha is a Career Development Consultant who has two gifted children. She is a professional member of the Career Development Association of Australia (CDAA). She has a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering, Graduate Certificate in Careers Education and Development (RMIT) and Certificate of Gifted Education (UNSW). She also holds a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and Certificate of Fashion Illustration.
She worked for a multinational engineering manufacturing industry before switching to career counselling, writing, teaching and case management. She has worked in the British and American schooling systems and is now working with the Victorian Selected Entry and Regional Schools. Her diverse experience of working around the globe in the education and corporate sector and strong academic background enables her to see the bigger picture.