Articles for Teachers
Teaching is a profession of learning and growing intellectually. The learning of a teacher only takes place when s/he agrees to bring changes and to accept criticism from others.
When I started teaching, with time I understood that I had many flaws, which I accepted whole heartedly. I was a person who always looks for improvement. Gradually I realized that I became a better teacher, and that happened because of taking feedback from others and by being conscious of the effectiveness of my teaching style and strategies. During my vast teaching experience, I always followed this quote,
“To reach the highest, always start with the lowest.”
I followed this from the issue of curriculum to the issue of lesson planning; from the identification of children with learning problems to the issues related to teachers demotivation; I came across many challenges.
After the completion of my Montessori training dated back in 2001, I joined the Progressive Public School for teaching practicum. There, I came across one challenging student. On the last month of my teaching practice, one disturbed child entered my class. Within no time, he started a tantrum, shouting in the class. He was moving like a pendulum without any fear of a teacher’s presence. When I tried to make him sit, he hit me and spat on me. When I gave him an activity to paste a picture, he tore his own and others' activity sheets. The whole class was distracted due to his aggressive behavior. I was very confused as to what to do and how to control his behavior. I scolded him, but that didn’t work. Maybe my strategy to deal with him was wrong. I used many techniques to tackle him, but he didn’t respond to any strategies. I detected few of his problems which helped me to categorize the major solution of problems.
First was his lack of understanding level. He was never able to follow the instruction given by me. The second problem was his chronological age. The average age of the class was 4 to 5 , but he was 10 years old. It showed that the normal milestone progression of his development was delayed. The third problem was his learning capacity, which was almost zero as compared to the other children learning, which was at average. The fourth main problem was his hyper activity. He didn’t sit on his seat. I tried to make him sit beside me by holding his hands, but all the time, he broke his arm free and ran away from class. I used to chase him, because he would often run all over the school and kick anyone who grasped him. After a week, there were no changes felt by me and my efforts ended in smoke. I tried to explain this to my headmistress, but she didn’t accept my assertion and gave the same statement, "It’s your duty to manage him in class."
At that time, I was working with Aga Khan Rehabilitation Centre. I had taken a few trainings of Inclusive Education, which helped me to identify that he had a behavior problem. I consulted his parents. Initially the mother didn’t accept that her child had a behavior problem but after much convincing, the parents accepted that a child was hyperactive since childhood. The mother of the child was uneducated and father was busy in his big business - that’s why they never initiated to consult a psychologist to modify his behavior.
Behavior problems (and what is normal behavior) in a child is determined by the child’s age, physical and emotional development, personality and what is socially and culturally acceptable in his or her surroundings.
I came to know that this was his fourth school and the previous schools expelled him due to his behavior problem, from which his development was delayed. Afterwards, I talked to the headmistress and discussed the whole scenario. She agreed and allowed me to begin parents' counseling. Being a reflective practitioner, I encouraged his parents to send him to any other school where he could learn and adjust in a proper environment. There were some schools in Karachi which were catering such children. His parents agreed. I was fortunate that my decision was right! Today, he’s studying in a normal school. If I wouldn’t have sent him to the relevant school, he might have lost his years without learning anything.
The second issue, which I would like to raise, is the many challenges that teachers face. During my teaching practicum for STEP, I decided to teach class seven. I saw the lesson plans and the files of the preceding year. I saw that there was no proper lesson planning being done by the teachers. The teachers told me that they used to teach students from the curriculum book rather than initiating any proper planning.
“The teacher is the good leader of the class and future generation. The teacher has to play a variety of roles which will assist to growth and development of student personalities”
Then I asked the previous students and took their feedback which gave me an idea that there were no activities for any lesson. The teacher taught in a theoretical way. No audio visual aids were being used.
Being a reflective teacher, I worked a lot and developed few lesson plans according to their level and need. Teaching should be practical and revolutionary, so I used effective and innovative strategies in which students participated to the greatest extent possible. Everyday I energized my students by using different stories and activities. I used library books to integrate my lessons with the Quran, Ginan and Farman. The strategy to teach students with integrated activities worked well and they all showed a lot of interest and participated fully with enthusiasm.
I am happy to adopt the teaching profession. It has given me a platform to learn a lot. I am trying my level best to fulfill the expectations of my students and to prepare them for the challenges, which will be faced by them in the future ahead.
Salima Moosa Sewani has been in the field of teaching for 7 years. She is running her own Learning Center and also working with the Exceptional People. This is her first experience to share with the audience. She is a Master Trainer and has done many teaching certifications.