FEATURES FOR TEACHERS
Features For New Teachers
Volume 3, Issue 10
If we'll prepare an educated human in our society in advance, by providing proper education facilities to our younger generation, then we could move towards the path of success undoubtedly. If we look toward our education system, there are many unveiled reasons behind the de-motivation and poor academic performance of students. Despite a great deal of effort since the day of independence, academic achievement among students in Pakistan continues to lag behind. No doubt that we are moving towards the successful future, but our education system somehow, is hampering the progress of our country. The results, which we see in matriculation, intermediate and graduation are not up to mark.
The interest in students to achieve quality education is de-motivated in the recent years. The only thing student require is a certificate/degree with passing marks. In the attempt to improve school results, the teacher educators and education counselors are trying their level best to find the roots of poor academic achievement of school students. Educational psychologists have also developed many tests, to judge and improve the skills of students, but the real cause has not been founded till date, that what makes the student frustrated to back out of education so easily? Might be it's the fault of the Ministry of Education to develop lack of integrated curriculum and wrong dimensional policies or it might be the fault of a teacher, whose teaching style is not appropriate to the age level students they teach, or it's the problem of learning disability in a child.
Some point the finger at the outrageous homework loads students are given by the teachers. Students are overburdened with academic demands of questionable value and, as a result, end up indifferent to studies, exhausted, and worn out. In addition, the heavy loads of books are not worthwhile, until and unless the students are ready to go through it.
Our Curriculum Ministry is trying to develop curriculum according to their own judgment, without keeping in view the taste and level of a student. The reason for the poor academic achievement could be any out of these . But the question is, Why the students' academic records are more successful in European and American Countries?
The answer is that they are keen to learn and explore things. No overload of work is given to them nor books load and examination pressure is exerted on them. The books are well integrated too.
The new writers who want to write curriculum books according to the requirement of students are never encouraged in our country. Teachers even sometimes avoid researching and teach whatever is given in the textbook.
The main contributing factors that lead to low learning proficiency of students according to my experience as a teacher are as follows:
1. Incomprehension of the studying purpose. The main reason why so many students don’t feel interested in what they are doing at school, is the incomprehension of their studying routine. A vast majority of private and government teachers are not even bothered to explain to their students what the learning outcomes are, why they need to achieve them and how they will be assessed. Mostly teachers take out their text books and start making a wrong impression of rote learning on students, and then evaluate their students without seeing the capabilities of a child. Students are not encouraged to write their own answers. Despite this, the teachers wants their student to copy the same answer in the examination, which they have taught or were made to write.
Thus, the writing and analytical thinking skill gets hamper, for which we can't blame a student. Students just accomplish their tasks by command, which needs to be bluntly carried out.
Students prepare projects, submit reports etc. just to get extra marks, without knowing the purpose of their study.
2. Wrong Assessment Process Assessment means to evaluate children capabilities, not to judge them. Assessment in Pakistan is often wrongly intended by teachers as a punishment for students, or traps to catch them out. Grades seem to exist in order to show students’ errors, mistakes and drawbacks in the study area, rather than to give students a reasonable chance of demonstrating their achievements of specific learning goals. Same five years questions, wrong curriculum development by the ministry of education, changing of the course at the last moment of the end of the year are going on in secondary and higher classes. Assessment should not be based on counting the pages, which a student fills. Rather than this, evaluating system should be changed. Invigilators should be well educated to judge the learning tasks and own input, or else the wrong assessment process, which is going on for a long time would create a fearful attitude in students towards assessment.
Students are learning not for acquiring knowledge but for getting a “pass.” Students who work hard get low marks, because the teacher checks the paper according to their knowledge and often forgets the student's effort of contributing towards answering questions.
3. Lack of integrated curriculum: the Ministry of Education is making such a curriculum, which is not up to mark and is not well integrated with full resources. Mistakes in the books and wrong statements make students furious.
Activities are always missing in our curriculum books. The quality and the presentation of book makes jack a dull boy.
Our curriculum is made by professionals, but the question is, Why the curriculum is not made yet according to the needs and requirement of the students? We are just trying to change our curriculum all the time on the basis of the prevailing fear of any other examination systems, coming ahead in the competition. If we are capable, why don't we move ahead rather than taking wrong decisions at the end moment?
4. Teachers fault with classes consisting of more than 15-20 children, many students feel deprived of the due attention on their teacher’s part. Teachers are the leader and a role model for every student. Every student want to be unique and wants their place in teacher's heart. They are placed among the great lot of students without their personal interests, and problems with studying being taken into account. As a result, students don’t feel cared about, lose their identity, become indifferent to studies and lose faith in the brighter future.
Teachers should treat their students equally and give proper attention to every student of his/her class.
5. Wrong attitude of parents: Many parents are “performance oriented,” which emphasizes results such as students’ grades, rather than knowing whether their children have mastered the material or not. They just want their child to be on the top of the list and that's all. Children get frustrated when a parent keeps a lot of expectations from them. It burdens students and de-motivates them most of the time.
There are many parents who tell their child in advance that they have to join their father's or forefathers' business after passing school, which also makes the student less motivated to perform well in the examination and thus, poor performance is seen in the results, just because of the wrong impression embossed by parents on their children.
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A couple of weeks ago, I sat down with my principal for an afternoon chat. We've been having these informal discussions for years, and the topics are always changing.
This time, he brought up a hypothetical situation. If our district had an extra $60,000, would it be better to hire a teacher or to put that money into technology updates? That is a good question, and one that faces schools all the time. What is the best way to spend the ever shrinking tax dollars?
Without hesitation I responded that hiring a teacher was the best move a district could make. I firmly believe it, and here's why.
First, what positives are there? Number one is the return on investment. Granted this sounds more like a business decision than an educational one, but it must be addressed. Upkeep on a computer includes basic cleaning and maintenance, as well as updating software. You must also hire someone (a tech coordinator in some schools) to do this or train the staff in troubleshooting and repairs (and we all know how well that'll work considering some of our staff members fear of technology!). If you already have a school tech person, you've just dumped $60,000 of headaches on that person's lap. It's easy for those in a position to make decisions to unleash the troubles of the world upon others without understanding the long & short term ramifications of those decisions.
And lets look at the changing face of technology. Computers, components, and software are becoming outdated in the span of months, not years like it was in the past. And let's face it, the shelf life for computers and tech equipment is decreasing as well. Maybe that's why it is cheaper to go buy a new tv or dvd player than to get yours repaired, and nearly cheaper to buy a new printer than to replace the ink cartridge twice. And consider usage. Computers and tech equipment in schools are heavily used. Imagine putting two hundred thousand miles on your car each year. That's the equivalent amount of use they get in schools. And granted, there are the accidents (and purposeful destruction) that happen. The human (multi-user) factor adds many more problems than the happy desktop computer in the safety and security of your home will ever face.
And look carefully at your building and staff. There are probably many computers and technological devices in your classrooms that aren't being used. Many staff members have a reluctance (and even a fear) to use new technology (and new ideas). I'd be willing to bet you'd find a number of great tech devices in your building that are collecting dust and not being used in the first place. Move these to the hands of those teachers who will use them to their fullest.
Now let's look at a new teacher.
The return on investment for a new teacher is on average 25 to 30 years. Unless you have been hoodwinked by a rotten salesman, you probably won't have to replace the model every four to five years (or even less). New teachers don't cost anything to update - in fact, most have to pay for their upgrades (credits) themselves! They do take some time to mentor, and will undoubtedly make mistakes. But unlike computers, humans learn from their mistakes.
A new teacher decreases the class sizes, which is always a boon for your school. Parents want a low teacher to student ratio. And that's great for staff morale too. Your staff needs fresh ideas, a new outlook on education, and energy to put those into motion.
New teachers (and their family) will generally add positive voters to your district. They tend to live in the district, paying taxes and sending their children to your school too. They become a new and positive link to the community, and they add fresh ideas and energy to the staff.
Consider other professionals in other fields for a moment. When you visit a doctor's office, are you paying the big bucks for his stethoscope, his exam tables, his medical supplies? Only to a small extent. You are really going there for his expertise, his expert opinion and diagnosis, his valuable knowledge. That's the nature of a professional. The same is true for a lawyer. You pay for his knowledge and skill, not for his collection of law books. Teachers are professionals the same way too. Students don't attend a school because of its great textbooks. Parents don't choose a school because of its fund balance or its new busses. Schools are chosen for their academic program, for the expertise of the teaching staff, for educators who care about kids. A school is nothing without the teachers. The books, pencils, paper, and computers don't teach the students. The public is paying for the expertise of the instructors. All the school supplies in the world won't teach the kids; teachers teach kids.
Then there are the other functions teachers can do that computers and supplies can't. Computers can't coach sports or be advisors for clubs and activities. Textbooks can't chaperone field trips, dances, or monitor recess. School supplies will never serve on curriculum councils or create plans for safe schools. A tv or dvd player will not influence and impact a child's life or help a student through a difficult time.
We pay plumbers and electricians a little for the parts and a lot for the expertise in skills. Why is it our society doesn't want to pay teachers for their skills and expertise? Parents will go ballistic if we don't have a text book in the kids' hands, but they're ok with wanting to keep teachers' salaries low.
The public (and many administrators too) loves to complain that 80% of school budgets are 'wasted' on personnel and wages. Well, of course that's where the budget should be spent! We're paying for the expertise, the skills of the teachers! A room full of computers is worth nothing if there's not a teacher there to teach the kids. A large fund balance makes the school district into a bank - and that money belongs to the students for their education, not earning interest or waiting in an account for a 'rainy day'. Opponents to education like to use those type of figures as reasons to cut teachers. But let's face it - parents don't send their kids to schools for the textbooks, the school supplies, carpeted floors, or because of a fund balance. Parents send kids to school to be TAUGHT by teachers.
For whatever reasons, the public likes to look down upon teachers as second-class professionals. The public envies the short, daily working hours, the vacations, and the summers off. I've even heard a part-time handyman who has no full time prospects tell me I don't have a 'real' job. Imagine that! How's that for public opinion? Sure, I've known him for years, and he was only joking, but how many out there have the same sentiments? How many really believe this?
Given a few short years, a good teacher will be worth his/her weight in gold. Any good teacher can easily leave the class text book well behind in just a couple of years. At that point, a good teacher will use outside resources and personal knowledge and experience to teach the students. A good teacher can still teach students even with limited or few materials. Computers and tech equipment are just tools to teach the same skills our kids have been learning for years: reading, writing, and problem solving. The teachers use these tools. But unlike a handyman who cant work without his tools, a good teacher can still teach even with outdated, few, or even no resources.
The emergency lesson plan should be able to be used at
ANY point in the year. It doesn't have to fit in with what you're
currently doing (nor should it - it is to be used when you cannot leave
normal sub plans). The lesson should be related to your normal
curriculum, but it could be a supplement or an enrichment activity.
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Have you read Heart of a Leader? Do you have comments you’d like to share with our readers about this book? Email your responses to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please type in BOOK CLUB READER RESPONSE in the subject line. Responses will be posted on our website with the StarTeaching Book of the Month Club. All responses will be proofread, and may be edited for content and space before publication.
It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcomings, who knows the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at his best knows in the end the high achievement of triumph and who at worst, if he fails while daring greatly, knows his place shall never be with those timid and cold souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
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