It is usually said, ‘teaching is one profession that makes all other professions’. Being a teacher, therefore, is not that easy as it seems.
Having taught in a secondary school, I gained a deep perspective about this profession. During my B.ed days, I thought teaching is all about imparting knowledge, making students learn and creating an understanding of concepts in a simple yet interesting way. However, a practical experience of addressing a class full of bright minds, made me realize that teaching is all this and much more.
As a teacher, I have a huge responsibility on my shoulders. I just don’t have to teach a few young souls so that they pass from one grade to another but also train them to understand what they are and want to be; introduce them with their own abilities; enable them to deal with certain shortcomings and prepare them to face life with all its challenges.
So when I used to enter my class, I not only needed a lesson plan in my hand that would tell me how to engage my listeners for the next forty minutes, but also some clarity in my mind of how to enhance the young and dynamic personalities that I got a chance to deal with and groom them into wonderful human beings.
Being a teacher, therefore, required me to first be a good learner. Having mastery over my subject wasn’t enough. I had to constantly learn and upgrade my knowledge. I had to learn how to enable learning in a classroom of 40 students. I had to be creative enough to create their interest in a subject that they may like or dislike. Thus, each day I had to acquire a new art and practice a new skill.
Teaching a curriculum is exacting, and teaching the same curriculum over the years to a different group of students is testing. Hence, comes the challenge of giving a new twist to an old tale. Being a teacher, required me to discover various ways through which I could break monotony and practice ingenuity. This was possible only when I ardently loved my profession and put my heart and soul into whatever I did as an educator.
In the course of my career, I also realized that as a teacher I may err to be an influencer. To teach implies enabling students to think and helping them develop their own point of view. It’s easy for kids to be influenced by the thinking of the teacher which has a risk of damaging their creativity. Hence I always felt the danger of imposing my own beliefs and values on them. Maintaining a thin line difference between the two and helping kids grow as independent thinkers is the toughest part of this profession. While speaking to my students, I always had to be cautious. If a parent used to come up with a remark that ‘my child is really influenced by you’ or ‘my child loves to copy your style of writing or speaking’, I never took it as a compliment. Rather, I used to get perturbed and reflect on changes I needed to bring in my own teaching methodologies.
There is a lot of hard work, knowledge, passion and compassion that goes into the making of a teacher. It sinks my heart to see how this profession, in spite of its noble stature, is yet to receive it’s due. It’s still the most underrated and underpaid profession(especially, in the private sector). The teachers, at times, are subject to exploitation by all- the employers, the parents and, to an extent, even the students. The common perception still holds- ‘if you can’t be in any other profession, you can at least be a teacher’. However no one admits, that had there not been a teacher, no other profession would have been possible.
Do you want to read more teachers views on this. Check out this interesting post by Vidhi Duggal : Parent-teacher Relationship: Don’t Criticize Let’s Coordinate
Also read this thoughtful poetic piece that I wrote when I observed so many changes in my life after taking the job of a teacher – The Change.