kheru2006 (kheru2006) wrote,

Thrills and troubles of teaching

While the educator’s role is fast-changing in the digital era, the primary objective is still to get their students focused and engaged in the learning process.

JUST last month, I had the opportunity to meet up with a friend who was my former college mate. We had so many things to catch up on since we were meeting after almost a decade, and ultimately our conversation shifted to our jobs.

As educators, we had so much to talk about our work and I could tell that my friend was a devoted teacher. She took her job seriously and was concerned about the progress of her students. She was frustrated at times when she did not attain the expected level of progress from her students.

From the conversation, I could deduce that my friend had prolonged moments of self-reflection about her teaching approach and methods. However, I assured her that she was not alone, for as educators, we all go through such moments too.

In teaching, there is no ready-made recipe that teachers can apply to be labelled as “successful”.

What works well with one class might not work for another.

There is no consistency in the effectiveness of the teaching methods because we are teaching children and also adults with different needs, cultural backgrounds, ethnic belongings, psychological make-up, and learning styles.

Teaching is the only job in which the educator deals with all types of people. Yet, we love our job dearly and we strive to equip ourselves with skills that enable us to adapt and blend in any educational context.

The students we teach today are different from the school-goers of perhaps a decade or two ago, which is why we need to look at some of the skills we have. We need to equip ourselves so that we can live up to the challenges ahead.

As educators, the most daunting challenge is to get our students engaged and focused in the learning process.

All teachers are concerned about their teaching practices and skills, but how many times have we wondered about a better way to teach the same lesson that was delivered to an earlier class?

How often have we used technology to engage our students and improve their learning? These are some recurring questions that come up when our teaching skills are put to the test.

It is amazing how technology has changed the world, giving rise to new forms of education we never thought of. Our students are very digitally focused. They spend more time interacting with their mobile devices than they do with their parents and family. If they are not engaged in sending out their text messages via their mobile phones, they are probably “busy” on Facebook.

Facebook is a very popular social media site that attracts all young people. Face-to-face interaction has “almost” been replaced by communication through Facebook.

Social media networking is a requisite for today’s learning. We are living in a digitally-wired world where the power of information rests with those who are properly “connected”.

In the above context, a teacher who does not employ technology is deemed to be “obsolete”.

It is like driving a car for a decade without having an oil change. The engine will definitely get rusty and fall apart. The same applies to teachers who fail to seek more information to enrich their students with knowledge and not rely solely on the textbook provided.

Admittedly, the digital boom has both a positive and negative impact on our students. Lack of concentration, short attention span, distraction, visual stimulus overload, identity theft, lack of real world socialising, privacy issues, depression, and many more are a direct result of the growing exposure to this technology.

We should not look at only one side for the other side might be a lot more interesting and beneficial. There are many plus points for the use of technology in education.

In the 21st century, the role of a teacher should be that of a mentor and guide. Teachers should interact closely with students and seek their views on identifying areas or topics that they may have difficulties with. Being recipients of the system, students can describe clearly what is needed for learning to occur.

The teacher’s role should be in such a way that students become the judge of their own performance. Students learn a lot through self-evaluation.

The teachers’ challenge is to create a lesson that engages students and draws them in.

It is to build rapport with students and cultivate a classroom of trust and encouragement.

Use of technology in the teaching and learning process can make more learning take place, while at the same time engaging students.

Dr TERMIT KAUR RANJIT SINGH is a senior lecturer at the School of Educational Studies, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). Her main interest in research is in the area of ICT in Education and the use of Peer Coaching in Technology Integration in Teaching and Learning. She received a Gold Medal at the Malaysian Technology Expo 2011, for creating a courseware using the SmartBoard. She is currently working on the development of an Interactive Teaching and Learning Lab at USM.. The STAR Online Home Education  Opinion Sunday February 3, 2013

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