Teaching is no less than having a great superpower. The profession is demanding, inspiring and fulfilling in various ways. You touch many lives over the years and leave an impact that is hard for any individual to match. Yet there are days when one feels like almost giving it all up. Why? Because kids today are irrelevant, the pay is insufficient or the passion for the profession doesn’t exist anymore. How do you keep yourself inspired? Sometimes revisiting the reason and qualities that brought you here in the first place gives a certain amount and within-reflecting on one’s work brings back the focus.
For example, do you remember the first day of class when you were brimming with passion and energy? One of the most important qualities of a great teacher is that he/she is passionate about teaching and working with children. There is excitement about influencing student’s lives and understanding the impact. But this starts with deep understanding of children. One should ideally make the attempt to know one’s students-really care about who they are and what their needs include. Stephen D. Brookfield in his book The Skillful Teacher writes: “we may exhibit an admirable command of content and possess a dazzling variety of pedagogical skills, but without knowing what’s going on in our students heads that knowledge may be presented and that skill exercised in a vacuum of misunderstanding“.
Understanding students also means adapting to their ways of being today. Teaching the new generation of digital natives means constantly updating one’s own knowledge. While teacher might have started their professions without the need for knowing the world of computers, Google or Smartphones, one has to stay in touch with technology to reach out to students. Using youtube videos in the class to elucidate a subject or encouraging a facebook group to stir a discussion become new forms of pedagogy that teachers can engaged in.
When it comes to getting to know your students, patience is crucial. There might be one student in the class who is really slow to learn but what if the student suffers from some learning disability? In the process of completing the syllabus, one might over look a student with a learning disability, but take out the time to give special attention for such student. Teachers should give them the correct tools to learn and advice the parents of the student as well.
Reinventing the pedagogy of your subject can also lead to the renewed sense of purpose. Innovation is it with newness. As a teacher who deals with the pattern that seems comfortable a familiar. But the material may not be relevant anymore or you might need a certain twist for a particular class/student. You could innovate in your pedagogy or just introduce new exercises in the class to make it interactive.
Every profession has its own unique set of challenges and teaching is no different. At every stage of being a teacher, the challenges are different. When you are starting out, the challenges could be being overwhelmed with the demands on you by the students and the school management. At a latest stage the problems could be about lagging passion, boredom or a sense of disillusionment. When these issues arise, one could speak to fellow teacher or older one who have already gone through this phase and can give you some practical advice.
Most of the time, teaching is an act of giving. So it can get pretty exhausting to be the one giving time, knowledge, care and advice. Sometimes it can be overwhelming too. So take that time out to reflect on the impact you have had on your students and learn to value what you have contributed to society.