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SPEAK UP Guwahati Province (ING)

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ANTHUVAN Maria Arul , Guwahati says,
Back being a student - A Good Way to Be(gin) Teaching
By Maria Anthuvan
forum
360° VIEW
Guwahati, Nov. 3. The following is an improvement of what I wrote to a struggling teacher-friend of mine, with my experience of being a student all over again. Perhaps it will be useful to some. Perhaps to some practical-trainees.

Back being a student is torturous? Maybe!
Sitting in a class, trying to understand something out of it? Not a total failure.
Back being a student helps one to be a better teacher, or at least try something different.

Here is an outcome of a set of some boring lectures... (Some advice for me and for you, if you are ever going to teach. Or, in other words, this is what I`d like to tell myself.) These are only some practical (stray) points, some do`s and don`ts while you are in class as a TEACHER (or while you are teaching). Not exhaustive, obviously. But why not give them a try...

The suggestions are in the second person to make it sharp, or blunt as some would say it.

1. You are transparent. Your authenticity and your concern for the students (not for the syllabus) is that which is noticed first.

2. When you prepare your lesson for the day, prepare a five-minute creativity for the lesson (even if it is not related to that particular lesson). That could be a value game, a two-by-two sharing, a stretching exercise, a some-kind-of-scribbling on a sheet of paper, a riddle or a story, even a valuable distraction...

3. Use the blackboard (whiteboard or any teaching aid - flexibility needed...). Don`t write everything on the board, but do write something. And please, do not use the margins of the board - use the centre (lest the points you put remain only in their marginal consciousness, or at the fringe of their memory).

4. Talk. But with lots of pauses and silence in between. (Don`t merely lecture.) Talk in an informal way.

5. During class read, use reading materials or books, repeat by-hearted theories,... but all these to the minimum.

6. Try to feel with the students. And do think along with them (even if you are teaching mathematics or a dry science subject of theories galore).

7. Don`t ever try to control the class. See those wonderful persons called students with a certain sense of wonder and reverence... they will be your leaders one day.

8. Be human. Be honest. Don`t ever feel shy to say that you don`t know and learn many things from the students. Be firm - that`s being moderate (neither over strict nor over indulgent). But also be forgiving.

9. Appreciate always. Don`t flatter. True affirmation and appreciation is person-building.

10. Make the students talk, not merely by asking questions (that`s needed), but all the more make them ask questions, prompt them to put forward their opinions or oppositions in a polite way, involve them in short discussions (even if the point can be made directly without a discussion).

11. Use simple sentences. Don`t use complex or compound sentences (unless it`s the lesson of grammar on compound sentences) when you explain something. Use more verbs (when nouns can give way to them).

12. Correct them. Only privately. Even if one claims that the horse on a chessboard moves only two paces. Correct them indirectly - make them see the point.

13. Accept gifts only in class. Material gifts (I mean, of commercial value) are to be discouraged.

14. Use images, schemes, figures, order... (e.g., use numbers for titles or chapters or points - possibly Arabic numerals).

15. Make the students review or summary of the previous in their language (with their understanding). Not necessarily in the beginning.

16. Don`t always wear black. (I`m sorry if you are a monk or a nun with a black habit - exception, I suppose.) Use some lively and gentle colours.

17. Teach them how to learn always. Show them truly that you learn every time and especially from them.

18. Teaching is giving knowledge - but that`s only one part of education. Give them good values. Make them search for correct answers.

19. Ask them to dream, even in class.

20. Winning = Losing = Life .... Kipling`s wise words: If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster / And treat those two impostors just the same... (That`s part of a wonderful verse ``If`` by Rudyard Kipling.)

21. Be friendly. Extra kind if possible.

22. Be more informal. Break the linearity (now and then, at least) giving way to circularity (not merely physical arrangement of chairs).

23. Give home-works (assignments, projects, term papers, problems to be solved), but review them. Don`t used red pens for your observations and comments and ticks.... use green or some other colour which tell the students to move forward. (By the way, red is dangerous.)

24. Your activities at your class should be in a relaxed speed (even if you are a fan of Michael Schumacher or Shoaib Akthar).

25. Those names above there are not updated... but otherwise, be updated with the latest on your subject (what`s relevant).

26. Finally, a little home-work for you: please read the ``If`` of Rudyard Kipling or ``Desiderata`` of Max Ehrmann or ``A Quick Story`` of Elizabeth Silance Ballard or another wisdom passage. (I`ll review your response.)

An after-thought: BEING and BEGIN are spelt with the same letters. Let us begin anew. Let us be new.

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