“Gurur Brahma, Gurur Vishnuhu Gururdevo Maheswarah, Guru Shakshath Param Brahma Tasmai sriguruveh namaha”
It is not for no reason that we dedicate at least two days in a year to pay our respects to our gurus – traditionally on “Guru Poornima”, that is observed in most of the traditional gurukuls and also on Sept 05th, the birthday, of Late Sri Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, an educator who went on to become the president of India. UNESCO declared Oct 5th as the international day of teachers that most of the nations celebrate.
In the recent times, Late president, Dr. Abdul Kalam is one who has influenced the current generations like none other, for his sheer dedication to nation’s betterment and his engaging interactions with the youth, igniting the young minds.
Igniting the young minds
“The extent of influence of a teacher, even the teacher doesn’t know”
For each one of us there are and have been a few teachers, that we can count on our fingers, who have left a lasting impression, whom we recall very fondly. Each one of those have inspired us to discover that spark in ourselves. For many, that teacher would have made the most boring or dreaded subject of ours into our favourite one, with the way they facilitated us as human beings with their warmth, affection and non-judgemental interactions and engagement.
When I look back, I feel there a few most important questions that these inspiring teachers always asked themselves. And, I usually raise these three questions in every workshop for teachers to invoke the sense of responsibility we carry.
- What percentage of what we have learnt inside the class do we apply in our life? What percentage of what we have learnt outside the class / in a sports / arts arena do we apply in life?
So what is education? What is curricular, extra-curricular, Co-curricular?
KEY : Every exposure is an education, that we apply to excel in life. Education is all about relating life to learning and learning to life.
And I am sure when we look back at the way these teachers facilitated, we do recall the way they have blended the real world experiences in the interactions in classroom, to exemplify the concepts and bring the relevance. I have also seen most of them brought outside world into the classroom and took the classes into the real world to experience, in terms of activities or engagement with people who come and interact to share their experiences and invite children to question and learn.
- What percentage of our learning is because of teachers and what percentage because of our co-learners?
When does the process of learning become enjoyable and the impact long-lasting?
KEY: Learning is an interactive, experimentative, inquiring, introspective, imbibing process. It is all about the environment that excites.
So, these inspiring teachers have always made it point to facilitate peer learning, inside the classroom in groups or even encouraging us to form groups to work on assignments and projects that promote active learning through discussions and questioning.
- How many teachers from our life bring us smile? Why do we remember only a few fondly?
So who is an effective teacher? What are her traits?
One who loves children, has warmth and affection in every interaction and engagement. The teacher herself is a keen co-learner, participates actively in every learning process, apart from being a facilitator of the process. It is about how one creates a learning environment that excites a learner.
Recently, I blogged an article when I came across a video on whatsapp, wherein a gentleman visited his teacher, Ms Molly Abraham, after 26 years, to pay his humble respects for what all she has done to influence him for life time. Thanks to Google, I discovered that this gentleman is Mr. Ganesh Kolhi, who has gone on to become a teacher and career counselor to facilitate the young minds. You can peruse that article here
Who is your Molly Abraham? Love to hear your story. Why not write an article about her. If possible would love to watch a short Video of yours with your Molly.
A Learner for life-time
“Who am I, what more am I? What more can I do?”.
These inspiring teachers seem to be asking this question to themselves all the time. They are not just great facilitators; they are outstanding learners.
- They are always pushing their boundaries.
- Their quest for knowledge is unending.
- They are inquisitive and curious
- They are exploring new activities to bring into the classrooms
- They are always reinventing themselves
- They are at the forefront of change, catalysts for change
The current scenario world over offers, because of the COVID Pandemic, many an example. These inspiring teachers are setting benchmarks in the way they have adapted to technologies so as to reach every child in no less effective way than they used to facilitate the regular, brick and mortar classes.
In the last five months of lockdown, I have experienced very many of these teachers across many a project that we, Career Launcher, has been able to facilitate. You can get a glimpse of school projects here
- Project Aspiration. Govt of NCT, Delhi.
When the COVID struck, school had to be closed, not knowing how long, We, Career Launcher, immediately offered help to many state governments to use our technology platforms to reach children at their homes.
One of the governments to grab the opportunity is Delhi. They quickly got together about 300 of their best teachers. Most of the school teachers have had a little exposure to technology, thanks to mobile phones perhaps, and certainly not how technologies could be used effectively in facilitating education. The government schools cater mostly to the lower middle class or economically marginal families and it was very important to reach to this section of society, as this section gets most impacted in every calamity.
In a short span of a week, sixty of these 300 transformed into fantastic online educators and went on to teach over 1.65 Lakh class XII students in one single class, over the net. Thousands of students attending one single class and a group of 6-7 teachers managed classes with strength of over 50-60 thousand at one go, making every class interactive and engaging.
You can experience the classes at our YouTube Channel National Channel for School Education
We have also trained and facilitated
- Media university – ISOMES
One of the first higher education institutions that wanted to go online as a result of COVID was ISOMES, an institution that trains people for media industry. And to my surprise the faculty who were part of the ONLINE EDUCATORS program were very senior journalists, award winning, from print and television industry, and many of them are past their fifties, and a few into their sixties. I was amazed at the enthusiasm of a few who really put a lot of effort to make their classes engaging and inspiring. They were keen to reinvent themselves with a vision of offering courses on the web to world wide universities.
- India – Africa: SARUA Universities engagement
As an endeavour to facilitate the faculty of universities to be outstanding Online Educators, we initiated a program to build capacities of the faculty across Indian and African continents in collaboration with SARUA (South African Regional Universities Association). It has been a pleasure to see a few dozen faculty, across the continents and time zones, actively participating and collaborating to deliver classes.
Transcending the Seven Spaces
All these inspiring teachers transcend the following seven spaces, irrespective of whether they are facilitating in the brick and mortar class or online class!
How do they transcend these seven spaces to leave a lasting impact on the learners ?
Every teacher needs to continuously strive to transcend these seven spaces to leave that lasting impact on every learner.
Looking into the future
If I look at changes of the last few years, and all the reading that I come across these two things stand out…
- Careers that are in demand today did not exist in 2010
- The careers that will be in demand in 2030 may not exist today…
Change is the only constant…
Ever industry is transforming in quick time. What it took a hundred years to bring revolution, then took 10 years and now perhaps 10 months. An app on mobile phones is becoming the reason for the downfall of fiefdoms held closely for 40-50 years.
Even in education, the technologies to make classrooms exciting, learning process a delight have been there for over 20 years, though progressing constantly, but the COVID made it dramatic. Those who quickly adapted to the shifts are ruling the roost.
Technologies like AI, Machine learning, Internet of things, drone technologies, Augmented reality, Virtual reality and so on, so forth will become part of every child’s life. Already, coding as discipline is getting into curriculum, so also concepts of entrepreneurship in the middle and senior schools. Can, we as teachers, continue with what we have been doing for the last few decades?
Looking into the future, as teachers, we need to strive to instill three virtues most important, within ourselves and in every child that we facilitate –
- Being life-long learners – Stoke curiosity and inquisitiveness to explore, read, experiment, dirty our hands, learn
- Courage – Courage to FAIL is very very important. I see FAIL as First Attempt In Learning. Are you pushing your boundaries to explore and experiment and not bothered how the world judges you based on the results. Eventually you will be far better.
- Humility – Ultimately the success depends on the leadership one offers and how one takes along fellow warriors. Humility helps in building formidable teams. The former Indian Cricket captain M S Dhoni exemplified this trait of building teams, apart from being an outstanding keeper and a batsmen the nation could trust to take it all the way to the podiums, time and again.
Looking forward to a wonderful decade of learning and facilitating ahead.
Very good article, Vasan! Not all will have an aptitude for teaching. Those who are having aptitude for teaching will continue to teach through out their life while learning themselves. Others will leave this at the earliest opportunity. Not necessarily classroom is needed for them. Where-ever they are, there class is formed to impart their knowledge of the subject. God bless you!