“Education should be considered not as a moulding of perfectly plastic substances, nor as a filling of empty minds, nor as a creation of powers, but rather as the provision of opportunity for healthy bodily and mental life.”
Reflecting upon my teaching always provides us many dimensions of learning. It helps me to improve and overcome my weaknesses. When I entered the field of teaching, I was an amateur. I had many questions in mind: will the students accept me? Am I really creative enough to bring about changes in teaching profession? For a couple of months, I was in denial- I did not accept criticism, and thought myself as a best teacher! But I wasn’t. I learnt gradually that without reflecting on teaching practices, it wouldn’t have been possible to improve. As time passed, I started reflecting upon my teaching. This was actually a transformation process and taught me how to be a reflective teacher.
During eight years of secular and religious teaching, I came across many challenges. I accepted these and they’ve served as a real evaluation tool for analyzing my teaching growth.
Here I’m sharing two students’ examples, whose life was changed because of my little effort.
On the first day of my teaching at Religious Centre to class 1, I came across a slow learner child. While I was teaching, he distracted the attention of the others. He started patting book on others. When I asked questions, he was blank. For few days, I avoided him. The more I avoided, the more he mis-behaved. I talked to incharge to call his parents. When his parents told me that he was a slow learner, I felt shamed how I ignored him on the basis of his behavior. That event changed my life. At that time, I decided to carry on learning about his problem. I read books and developed different activities and designed easy lessons. I also gave him extra time. I used activity based methods of teaching. At the end of a year, he was able to learn few things. The head decided to fail him. Being a responsible teacher, I decided that rather than de-motivating, we should appreciate him for learning something. He was shifted to class two. After few years of repetition, he was promoted to class three, where fortunately, I was given a chance to be his teacher again. His mother was guided by the Head to send him to Special School. Being a responsible teacher, I denied and took his “Adaptive Behavior Skill” testing, which I learnt during my Master Trainer in special education, and identified him as a slow learner not a disabled child.
During class 3, I involved him more in class activities. He was allowed to sit where ever he wanted to sit in class. I also taught him basic skills. His parents were happy with my efforts. At the end of year, he learnt few things. But again, his gradual learning and improvement in behavior was an achievement.
While teaching him, I observed his interest in graphics, so I told his parents about it. I’ve wherever possible raised my voice to keep him in the centre and continue to learn. I feel it’s important to cater such children. For there will be many more like him who’ll need the attention of the teacher and the Centre. We as a team can make a difference in their lives. This is something which hopefully will be understood in years to come with more awareness of children with special needs.
The tool of appreciation and extra attention brought change in his life. Today, I’m happy that although he’s studying gradually, but working as a graphic helper with his dad too.
I believe that every child can learn, regardless of their abilities/disabilities. Accepting challenges and demonstrating confidence to bring change is the sign of a reflective practitioner.
A child may be aggressive to his teacher or to his classmates. Such behavior may be due to his not receiving due attention at home. When he comes to find a free life at school, he behaves like an animal released from a chain.
I also dealt with an aggressive student. He had an arrogant attitude. Once, I gave him a sheet of paper to draw picture; he tore the paper and told that he wasn’t a kid. Many times, I discouraged him; even he wanted to share anything. Once I taught students that no one can become master of all. He told me that he’s a master. I calmly denied his sayings. On the next day, he brought a chair made of old wooden box. I was sure he hadn’t made it. But when he told me the steps, I was astounded. It was my mistake to de-motivate him. I would’ve encouraged him rather than discouraging. I realized that if we are to criticize, it should be done constructively. We should appreciate children to share rather than taping their lips.
“Children are like a pot of flowers. If you’ll give them proper attention, they’ll grow up properly; but if you’ll give them lack of attention or extreme care, they’ll be destroyed.”
Being a reflective teacher, I decided to know the real cause behind his aggressiveness. I met his parents and learnt that they hadn’t much time due to work. I counseled and told them the reason behind his child aggressiveness. They realized it.
This time, I tried a tool of encouragement. I asked for friendship. He taught all the students making different things. Whenever, he brought any thing, I appreciated him. Gradually I learnt about his talents of music, painting, etc. Currently, he’s in grade 7. His vision is to be a scientist. Just a little appreciation and parent counseling brought change in him. Today, he proved to be a brilliant gem.
Today, I’m happy to call myself a reflective teacher, whose objective is to mould children ethically; to nurture them; to explore their creativity and to cater the needs of children with special needs.
It is a request to all the teachers to reflect back on their teaching practices as well, in order to bring change in the lives of their students, while improving themselves too.
Post time: 05-13-2017