Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Encourage teachers to grow


Encourage teachers to grow

Create an environment that allows teachers to first flourish and thereafter give of themselves


For the past five years, I have been instructing teacher-trainees.

My publications - How to Become a Caring Teacher, Engaging Teaching Methods and It Takes a Learner to Teach a Learner - clearly reflect that I did much to equip students with knowledge and skills of "affective teaching" practises to help children learn to their maximum.

I equally emphasized the need to hold children responsible for their own learning by providing a positive and stimulating learning environment.

I like to think of teachers as "designers" of "learning environments". I continue to encourage teacher-trainees to focus on building a community of learners who love to think creatively and critically.

Focus on the teacher Now that I'm a school administrator, I am required to play a different role. My initial thoughts are that I need to conceptualise and plan ways to improve students' learning.

Upon reflection, I'm glad that I did this as a school is only as good as the performance of its students. Having more students perform well academically helps the school get more new students interested in joining, and eventually increases enrolment.

But just when I was preoccupied with these notions, I realised that I needed to refocus and channel my energies somewhere else. I had the right intention, but I was going too fast. I was getting far too ahead of myself.

I needed to get back to the basics and lay a strong foundation. Perhaps I could also strengthen students' achievement levels.

This realisation caught me by surprise, but I also knew that it made sense to think of the whole situation from a different perspective.

Design the environment If teachers are happy in their school, they will feel good about working in the school. And if they feel personally connected to the school, its philosophy and mission, their superiors and fellow colleagues, and students and parents of the school, the school will ultimate benefit and become a much better place. It will blossom into a supportive learning experience for its students.

As an administrator, I feel I must make our teachers feel special because they are educators. I need to make them feel connected to the school and what it believes in. I need to make them realise how their words, behaviour, thoughts and emotions affect students for a lifetime.

I am confident that if I properly focus on the personal and professional development of my teachers, they will be keen on becoming better teachers and more effective designers of positive learning environments.

I used to encourage teacher-trainees to hold children responsible for their own learning.

Teacher's responsibility Now, I am going to hold my teachers responsible for their own excellence in teaching - to become more creative and innovative in their teaching. I will provide them with sufficient support, guidance and appreciation. I will be there for them and constantly work on designing a positive working environment. When I do this, they will invariably strive to be the best they can and become a great blessing to our students.

After all these years, I am still a designer - and I will continue to design education environments that would help both teachers and students to grow as individuals and fulfil their potential.

Dr Edward Roy Krishnan is the assistant to the chairman of the Board at Wells International School. He also lectures in the Graduate School of Psychology, Assumption University, and in the Faculty of Education, St Theresa INTI College. He can be contacted at edward@wells-school.com. He has other articles at http://www.affectiveteaching.com

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