By Ishwari P Banjade
In my teaching journey of more than a decade, I have often found teachers’ roles and responsibilities limited to planning the lesson, delivering lectures, assessing students’ learning, and managing the classroom environment. In other words, traditionally there has been an attempt to typify the teaching duties merely in terms of delivering the course content in a specified time period without bothering much about other significant aspects of learning which matter most to students. Consequently, an increasing trend of student absenteeism can be observed across our classrooms these days. The pertinent question here is: Who is chiefly responsible for this situation? What role can a teacher play in ensuring maximum student satisfaction in the classroom?
New principles of classroom design
In recent decades, a debate has ensued in the direction of redefining the role of teacher. Should teachers continue to be an educator? Or should they become more of a motivator than educator? Should they facilitate students rather than impose their ideas? Nevertheless, current academic discourses are focused on the development of knowledge, higher order skills (such as the 4Cs of creativity, critical thinking, communication, collaboration), and character, as well as the establishment of lifelong learning habits.
What I consider the most important thing to do is to understand the learning needs and interests of students. Investing in students learning in such a manner that they feel they are an integral part of the education system has become really urgent. The present approach of imposing authority on students has done more harm than good in shaping student life.
Improvement within the exiting TU curriculum
Even within the TU’s existing curriculum, I believe there are multiple ways in which teachers can make the lesson interesting and rewarding to students. For instance, starting everyday class with brainstorming activity might enthuse students. Instead of a mundane lecture, a teacher can check the prior knowledge of students on a particular issue being discussed and further enhance his/her learning through guided learning materials. I have encouraged teachers to do this and I ind that both teachers and students have had positive experience from this small change.
How about making students work in pair? Giving them some topic to discuss and share their ideas will also keep them attentive in class. And some informal sessions every now and then during class hours where teachers can share inspiring stories of various successful personalities and even ask students to bring similar stories by inquiring in their own communities have been found awesome. Likewise, providing a particular problem scenario to students asking them to find potential solutions to tackle will be not only engaging but highly useful in life ahead.
Driven by students demand and needs
During several formal and informal interactions, many students have expressed their interest to learn in a different way, using some innovative methods. Some of them have often publicly admitted of bunking classes due to boring lectures. Hence, the problem seems to be more on the style of delivery rather than the subject matter itself.
Our own pedagogies
I strongly feel that we are undermining the significance of promoting authentic knowledge by glorifying the Western pedagogical methods. Contextualized knowledge will be more important than the grand theories and ideas which students find extremely difficult to relate to their everyday life. In order to nurture the culture of questioning, teachers should proactively listen to student queries and guide them towards finding the answers of the same.
With greater diversity and autonomy for the students to choose what and how to learn, it is possible that in many cases, students’ potential may lie in the areas that are beyond the core standards, requiring students to incorporate new ways of using technology and learning. In such cases, teachers need to abandon the superior mindset of content experts; they should see themselves simply as actors to transmit certain canons of knowledge. At NIM College, we encourage teachers to transform themselves into facilitators to support students in enhancing students’ own personal ways of knowing and thinking about social worlds.
Future is more exciting at NIMS College
Today’s teachers also need to be a friend and guide for their students. Rather than trying to impose their own knowledge, they should create suitable platforms for students to discover their inner self. An open mind to learn from colleagues and students should exist among the teachers. In this sense, I think a teacher can definitely make a huge difference in the life of students. I am glad that some of the principles have been applied at NIMS College after the new management started in January 2019. We are hoping that new and more exciting pedagogical methods will be used in the months ahead, including the Google Class, which will transform the way students learn at NIMS College. We also feature reputed guest speakers from time to time and also inviting experienced professors from Australia, the UK and USA to teach our students so they can stand out in the crowd.
(Mr Banjade is an Academic Advisor at NIMS College)