NEP2020: Profile of an Effective Teacher

Effective teachers help their students to internalise human values such as sincerity, honesty, selflessness and altruism.
Representational Image
Representational ImageFlickr [Creative Commons]

Long back Late Professor N.A. Nadeem presented a review of his research monograph “Profile of an Effective Teachers” at MET College of Education Sopore. He presented the attributes of an effective teacher,  the august gathering of teachers in the hall  pledged to follow them in letter and spirit by taking teachers’ oath. Let us start by sharing the following case studies: 

Aireeba - teaches class VIII. She is quite strict and believes that children should be seen and not heard. The text book is her Bible. According to her, if you spare the rod, you spoil the child. She believes that the children should be pushed hard for performing well. In her view the teacher is the nucleus of all learning.

Ainshra - teaches class IX.  She is a warm and thoughtful lady who believes that right from the beginning, her students should develop art of questioning, observing and learning by commitment.

She often uses improvised teaching aids and technological gadgets to supplement the text book for learning. She believes that each child has a reservoir of creative potential which can be nurtured in an accommodative environment.

She has an unpunctuated faith in her students and provides the right platform where an inquisitive learner finds the right ambience to have a mind that is opened by wonder rather than the one that is closed by dogmatic beliefs.

After examining both the cases, who according to you is a better and more effective teacher - Aireeba or Ainshra? You have seen that Aireeba is a follower of the behavioristic tradition who believes in teacher-centered education, the use of a prescribed text book and the good old carrot and stick policy of reinforcement.

Ainshra on the other hand, is a warm, nurturing teacher who believes in the holistic development of her students, by providing them with a learner-centered threat - free environment which helps in enhancing their creativity and sharpening their cognitive skills, thereby enabling them to utilize their capacities, judiciously. She believes in humanistic education.

All effective teachers present a strong case for student / learner-centered education. They advocate a philosophy of teaching in which students are given a far more important role in curriculum decisions than has traditionally been the case.

According to them, teachers should be learner facilitators rather than didactic instructors or preachers and that in order to be successful as learner facilitators; they should be trained to be sensitive and caring, genuine and empathetic.

Effective teachers put emphasis on healthy social and interpersonal development and de-emphasize rigorous, performance driven and test - oriented approaches to the subject matter. Their orientation is towards discovery learning (active) rather than reception (passive) learning. Effective teachers help their students to internalise human values such as sincerity, honesty, selflessness and altruism.

Effective teachers project clarity of thought and an unambiguous vision which makes their teaching more effective. Education, by and large, suffers basically from the gap between its content and the living experience of its pupils, NEP 2020 recommends to bridge this gap.

Education in its real sense should prepare the pupils to face the multiple challenges that they are likely to face in society. As an instructional expert, teachers need to devise practical and experiential methods for transacting the curriculum so that learners have a greater role and are more involved. With this, teacher will become learner facilitator rather than preachers or didactic instructors.

Methods like debates, discussions, role play, simulation tasks, and brainstorming are oriented towards active rather than passive learning. To substantiate the efficacy of non-formal approach to teaching I shall present here an actual case study based on action research which I experimented with a group of students in a practice teaching school.  Shahid’s (name changed)  mother has recently started noticing some changes in him.

He has stopped playing cricket, he comes home late at night and sleeps all day and often misses his job. He is irritable and is constantly asking for money. Sometimes, he breaks into sobs and asks his mother to forgive him. His mother suspects that he may be stealing money from her purse. His results are suffering and his employer has issued a warning. Shahid’s mother is at her wits’ end.

She is frightened of her son and has no close friends or relatives she can unburden her heart. She finds out that Shahid is taking drugs.                He started experimenting with drugs just for fun.  Shahid’s mother does not have the money or the courage to take her son to a de-addiction clinic. She is frightened that her neighbors will ask her to vacate the flat and Shahid will be fired from his private job. Her life has become a living hell. At the end I asked the students what they think Shahid’s mother should do.

What would they ask Shahid to do? What are the risks Shahid is taking? This discussion proved very fruitful and students came with many out of box solutions to counter the menace of drug addiction. Based on the advice of one of the students I personally made several visits to the home of Shahid; her mother was in great pain.

We approached the concerned police station, the concerned SHO, an empathetic police officer playing a great role in eradicating the menace of drug addiction from downtown area. Both of us with proactive support from local community are committed to de-root drug menace and other environmental hazards from our locality.

During inspection to practice of teaching schools I had an opportunity to meet hundreds of  effective teachers working at grassroots  level. In Peerpora Shopian there is a teacher Nazir Ahmad Bhat. When he joined the school there were heaps of cow-dung and garbage with stench all round. The school structure was in shambles, enrollment was dipping; the question was who would like to study in that filthy environment.

Mr  Nazir seized an opportunity  to turn school into an attractive place. It was through hard work and dedication of this teacher that a three room hutment is ornamented with neatly manicured lawns, breeze laden with aroma of dahilas, marigold and roses besides pines and cypress on its side for a moment gives a feel of a recreation park. A vegetable garden  also dots the park on its periphery.

The efforts of Mr Bhat started bearing fruit when parents preferred to admit their children in this school. As an expression of gratitude Mr Nazir gives credit of his success to his teacher Pandit Bal Krishnan who had inculcated in him the virtue of civic sense and community responsibility.  Pandit Balkrishan used to make his students clean water bodies and plant trees for restoring ecological balance. He was popular for his open classroom experiments.  This case study reflects that effective teachers teach through their behavior.              

At the college level the teacher’s acts not only as a knowledge transactor trying to create passion and scholarship for a particular discipline, but also as a guide and counselor. Teachers never restrict themselves to cognitive aspects of students’ development alone, while ignoring the other aspects of their personality. They always create ideational expansion and inculcate in their students certain attitudes, habits and values which greatly facilitate the process of personality development. Let us analyze a few case vignettes to understand this point in greater detail:  Showkat loves education subject. He reads a number of books and has many questions to ask. Teachers love to have him in their class.

But since he came to third year BA, he has started thinking about his career and he doesn’t know what are the options available to him after doing graduation in education. Instead of reading he now spends most of his time worrying about the future. Maria was the college topper in the first year of her BSC. But these days she is hardly seen in the class. Whenever she is present, she is lost in her own world. She doesn’t talk to anyone and has got a compartment in one paper in second year. These are a set of case examples which when analyzed; clearly indicate the grey areas where teachers can make a difference to students’ lives. Can you teach a student who is looking low, has tears in his eyes and is not interested in the class? Is it not your duty to give career directions to your students or help them deal with low performance? There are a number of helplines working for school students but when it comes to college students, they are almost non-exist.

It is recommended that in every college/university there should be a dedicated Guidance & Counseling Cell as envisaged by NEP 2020. Another strong recommendation of NEP 2020 is providing open classroom experiences to students for inculcation of scientific temper. The open classroom is one where students experience freedom to explore experiment, share and express their needs, wishes and desires. It is a class which is non-threatening.

Open education is most concerned with the affective growth of students’ development of critical thinking, self-reliance and a commitment to learning. Open classrooms reflect an approach that emphasizes student- centered and intensive but relaxed teacher - pupil contact. Research indicates that students exposed to open classrooms typically had better self-concepts and were more creative and better adjusted individuals.

Another recommendation of NEP 2020 is designing a standard code of conduct for school and college teachers, floating it on respective websites and stressing teachers to follow it in letter and spirit.

As per UGC guidelines some parameters of code of teachers are reflected below which help college and school principals to revisit their code in will light of NEP 2020 guidelines. Effective Teachers should respect the right and dignity of the student in expressing his/her opinion; deal justly and impartially with students regardless of their religion, caste, political, economic, social and physical characteristics; recognize the difference in aptitude and capabilities among students and strive to meet their individual needs; encourage students to improve their attainments, develop their personalities and at the same time contribute to community welfare; inculcate among students scientific outlook and respect for physical labor and ideals of democracy, patriotism and peace; be affectionate to the students and not behave in a vindictive manner towards any of them for any reason; pay attention to only the attainment of the student in the assessment of merit; make themselves available to the students even beyond their class hours and help and guide students without any remuneration or reward; aid students to develop an understanding of our national heritage and national goals and Refrain from inciting students against other students, colleagues or administration; treat other members of the profession in the same manner as they themselves wish to be treated; speak respectfully of other teachers and render assistance for professional betterment; Refrain from lodging unsubstantiated allegations against colleagues to higher authorities; recognize that education is a public service and strive to keep the public informed of the educational programs which are being provided; work to improve education in the community and strengthen the community’s moral and intellectual life.

I conclude with the letter of Abraham Lincoln which he had written to a teacher when his son had to attend first day in school. My son starts school today. It is all going to be strange and new to him for a while and I wish you would treat him gently. Teach him that for every enemy, there is a friend. He will have to know that all men are not just, that all men are not true. But teach him also that for every scoundrel there is a hero that for every crooked politician, there is a dedicated leader. Teach him if you can that 10 cents earned is of far more value than a dollar found. In school, teacher, it is far more honorable to fail than to cheat. Teach him to learn how to gracefully lose, and enjoy winning when he does win. Teach him to be gentle with people, tough with tough people. Steer him away from envy if you can and teach him the secret of quiet laughter. Teach him if you can – how to laugh when he is sad, teach him there is no shame in tears. Teach him there can be glory in failure and despair in success. Teach him to scoff at cynics. Teach him if you can the wonders of books, but also give time to ponder the extreme mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun and flowers on a green hill. Teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone tells him they are wrong. Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when everyone else is doing it. Teach him to listen to everyone, but teach him also to filter all that he hears on a screen of truth and take only the good that comes through. Teach him to sell his talents and brains to the highest bidder but never to put a price tag on his heart and soul. Teach him to have sublime faith in himself, because then he will always have sublime faith in mankind, in God. This is the order, teacher but see what best you can do. He is such a nice little boy and he is my son.

Dr Showkat Rashid Wani, Coordinator, Institute of Correspondence Education , University of Kashmir

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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