Monday, February 25, 2008

How to be an effective teacher in the 21st century

Teachers have a profound and a positive influence on their student's achievement. They should cherish their profession and consider it a great privilege. They are looked upon as the leaders of their community. So much so that teachers must work with great dedication in the execution of their work for their students. An adage that speaks well of the big responsibility of teachers -"Teachers plant seeds that bloom over a lifetime."
I have here fourteen ways that I keep in mind in the years that I have been teaching to give me the sanity, the necessary balance that I need to be an effective teacher in this century, and I wish to share them with you:

Live and enjoy life. We know that "teaching is caught not taught." Children learn more from the way you behave and your passions about things; your points of views about anything matters to them more than what they read or what they hear from other people. Model your life to them. You should have a very positive but realistic outlook on life. Teach them the balance in life by how you treat your life. Have time to enjoy the fineness of life. Cultivate a lot of interest. Develop love of the arts and music and literature for their profound effect on our soul. Have a life other than the life you have at school. It is very difficult to do things for yourself because most of your time is taken by your teaching, but it is necessary to maintain a healthy personal life if you want to be an effective teacher. Teachers should be very good at balancing life between teaching and their own personal life and the joy in life.

Read extensively and research a lot. Be a "walking encyclopedia" especially in your areas of teaching. Your students expect you to know everything. There is no way of explaining why you don't know what you are teaching or how to handle your student's questions and their yearning to learn. Therefore, be interested in a wide area of subjects not only about the subject matters that you teach. Cultivate interests in other areas of learning. Pursue higher education. Attend seminars, in- services; get into continuous education programs to improve your teaching. All these will contribute in enhancing your teaching and impact the learning of your children. Constantly update your curriculum with better methods, approaches, and resources in the execution of your lessons.

Be technology adept, since technology is the world of children nowadays. You have to learn how to work with computers; know how to do e-mail, use Microsoft work, do the children's grades using Microsoft programs, know how to browse and research the internet, and make the most of your researches from the Internet. Have your children work on Microsoft software programs in completing their homework and class work. Create your own blogspot and use that to share your rich thoughts about education. Stay up to date with new technology, especially technology that will assist students with disabilities,

Develop love for fine arts and other extra-curricular activities: music, poetry, dance, sports. You must be well rounded if you expect the children under your care to be well rounded, too. Know the current events - watch the news, read the newspapers every day; travel if you have the chance. Experience first hand what you read to make what you teach to the children more authentic.

Know the community where you teach or where you live. Take an active role in promoting your community. Reach out to your community. Know the environment where your students are coming from, so you can serve them better. Show leadership in your community, because that is where you would like your students to be one day- the leaders of their community, making a difference in the place where they live and to the world at large. Have a passion for service to others aside from teaching children. Have a very good public relationship with your community. Reach out to the people with influence in your community for help for your school. Find out what is available for support in terms of resources and expertise in your community. There are many resources out there that would become handy to enrich your curriculum and would help your school in its function, whether social or educational. Work with community agencies and other educational programs in the community.

Involve your parents in the teaching of their children. Solicit their help and make them "partners in education with their children." Parents will be of the greatest help as speakers, coaches, remedial helpers for students, etc. Tap their talents and resources to help you with your teaching and in helping their own child to learn.

Be an idealist always! Do not be contented with a mediocre amount of learning happening in your classroom. Always set a high goal with your teaching and what you want your children to accomplish. Don't put a limit to your children's potential and in your potential to do more.

Develop an attitude of tolerance and care for different people and interest in their culture, traditions and diversity. Learn different languages. Save money for travel to get better insights of other people from other places and how they live. This will make a difference in your attitude toward the diversified status of your students and the zeal and the empathy for them to succeed.

Do not isolate yourself or put yourself above others, however accomplished you are. Always see yourself in need of improvement; don't be complacent with what you have been doing every year as the "best and right thing" even if nobody ever bothered to complain about your methods and your approaches to the implementation of your curriculum. Always have an open mind about changes; embrace changes as part of growth and welcome any suggestions and criticisms about your teaching from your superiors and colleagues if they will help you better your teachings. Invite colleagues to critique your work and/or come and observe your teachings. There should always be room for improvement with you and in your task of educating your students.

Invite yourself to work or collaborate with your colleagues on some projects. It is always productive to work in groups or in collaboration with other teachers. They are there to give you feedbacks and support in your undertakings.

You must have a good and healthy working relationship with your superiors. Always give them the respect as your superior. Give them the benefit of the doubt when conflict between you arises. You must have in mind that they are there to guide and support you. They have been trained professionally on how to do their job with you so you become an effective teacher to the children that you serve.

Continue with your wonderment of things around you and make it very contagious to the children under your charge, so they can identify themselves with you and feel that they can attune their feelings with you. This will make you understand them better. Continue the desire to learn about beauty, the uniqueness about things, and how magnificently things in nature survive and continue to unfold their mysteries and in things that are man- made; the childlike quality of wonderment will endear you to them.

When planning your lessons, focus on the needs of the children. Your curriculum should be "child centered." Plan lessons where your students' intellectual, social, motor, emotional, and physical capacities will be developed and challenged. You must be creative and very challenging in your teaching approaches. Challenge as well as respect your students' capabilities. Give all the help you are capable of in helping your children achieve their best, Always have in mind that what you do today with your children, however minute it is, brings tomorrow's success to them..

Most importantly, maintain and keep on burning your love of teaching, of education and of the children's well being and future. Have a grateful attitude that you belong to one of if not the most noble profession in the world and everyday in your life as you go to school to take care of the children under your charge, you can still have that feeling like it is always your first day of teaching and you have that excitement and idealistic attitude to be the best teacher that the children have ever had!

All these may seem to be a monumental task to attain and to do, but with grace and hard work, with the right attitude, focus, discipline, a cultivated professionalism, with the help of the right people around you, your love for children and their future, successful teaching is not a dream but within your reach!

My students have taught me a lot as I go through my years of teaching. They are my inspiration to work harder. They make my day! If you want to succeed in your teaching, learn from your children. Listen to them. Be sensitive to their needs. They can teach you a lot of what you need to do.

I know that teachers of the 21st century are working with the greatest mission on earth though the results may not be immediate but take heart, ultimately like the seeds that you have planted if you continue and patiently tend to them, nourished them with your tender care, they will become sturdy plants that will yield abundant fruits for the benefit of mankind.

21st Century Teachers, I salute you for your commitment to the education of our young ones!

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