By Karim Muhammad Khan
What makes a teacher thriving? As principal in one of the state run secondary schools in Gilgit-Baltistan I tried to investigate the traits of a great teacher through applying certain appraisal and evaluation tools like observing lessons; time on assigned tasks and other self taken initiatives. Further, structured and unstructured interviews and analyzing results of students in their relevant subjects also guided me to unearth some common traits found in a successful teacher and it was also endorsed by several research findings as well on the probing theme.
At the outset, passion for teaching seems to be found in the blood of the excellent teacher due to which competency in subject knowledge and teaching methods are strong enough. Further, s/he tries his level best to create a sense of inspiration in students to augment their conceptual understanding, refine skills and inculcate positive attitudes in them so that they can reach to their fullest potential.
Beside, a thriving teacher has always sense of responsibility as s/he is regular and punctual in duties and that is evident from the very few number of casual leaves availed during the academic year. S/he is very scrupulous about the usage of time and tries to make the class time productive by delivering lessons with full preparation and keen interest.
Next, classroom management dynamic of the great teacher is learner-centered as children are usually seen to get engaged with hands on minds on activities while the teacher doesn’t sit in the chair rather goes round the class to monitor whether all students are actively participating in group, pair and individual activities or not and extends support to clarify concepts and ambiguities countered by any individual or group.
In addition, the best teacher shows great esteem for the children as well owing to which classroom atmosphere is mostly seen friendly and students are encouraged to ask queries; share new learning with peers and the whole class. Whereas’ their presentations are applauded openly and loudly. Furthermore, it has been observed that owing to good rapport with children they feel free to access the teacher even after school hour for counseling and clarification of other tricky concepts and topics in their subjects.
Further, a thriving teacher is also a sound communicator with simple, audible, soft and clear tune that make not only children’s attention focused on the theme under study but also helpful in building interpersonal skills to convince easily other stakeholders like parents as well. Complex and abstract subject matter is analyzed and synthesized in simple manner to make them explicable for children in the class. Apart from curricular activities, children are also engaged in co-curricular activities i.e debates, discussions, discourse, drawing and project work in order to enhance their speaking, creative and critical thinking skills and that help them out as independent learners.
Moreover, another vital feature of a triumphant teacher is to have close liaison with parents and the community at large through multiple channels such as parent teacher meeting, event celebration and talking with them on cell phone in which students’ progress are shared with them. In which their strengths and weaknesses are pinpointed based on gathered data that is maintained over the period of time with constructive feedback for further improvement.
At times, career experts and guest speakers belonging from various fields in the community are also invited to the class for presentation as it helps children to understand certain themes with deep understanding from different perspectives and can better prepare for future careers.
Alongside, pursuance of in-service continuous professional development is yet another important trait of a booming teacher and s/he always gets motivated to attend professional sessions, seminars and workshops. Moreover, penning down reflections on daily classroom practice is also carried out by the teacher through which strengths and weak points are surfaced and appropriate adjustments and amendments are made in teaching strategies in order to bridge the learning gaps.
In addition to this, s/he has curiosity for reading and attends libraries to read books, articles, periodicals and newspapers. Ideas and knowledge are exchanged with peers and other professionals in the school and gets support from them to overcome bottle necks in teaching learning processes.
In short, some of the common life traits found in a thriving teacher is having passion for teaching; sense of responsibility, love of children and taking care of their self-esteem. Further, good communication and interpersonal skills are also vital element existed in his/her personality. Keeping close coordination with parents and being enthusiastic for his/her own continuous professional development as it influence students’ learning outcomes. Last but not least, to become a flourishing teacher is not with inborn qualities rather it is learnt and groomed over the period of time as one can instill the aforementioned traits in his/her daily routines in order to make the differences in the lives of children and can prove himself/herself as the real nation builder.