A situation which most of the teachers in India dread. Albeit teachers have the intention of catering to every child. But it seems an impossible dream to provide focus to each and every child sometimes 45 to 60 children in a class with only 35 to 40 minutes. That’s less than a min to each child, and then she has to finish her syllabus, check their copies, give them Homework, create discipline in the class and the list goes on…
Schools and the school system in India has tried to crack this code by limiting the no. of students in a class. But that is again an impossible task given the population of India, the no. of schools and the no. of teachers available. Some high end privately owned schools have had the luxury and funds to cap this but state owned schools have no choice but to have 50 to 60 children to a class.
So, how? That’s the question that’s been haunting the India education system for years.
Let’s dismantle this problem piece by piece.
- As step 1 the context needs a shift. Teacher don’t have 40 min with a group of 50 children. They have approximately 14 years (for a k12 school) or 12 years (for a 1st to 12th school) This is a shift in the way we look at the time horizon. A very small percentage of children change schools. We need to shift this micro level view of a period of 35/40 minutes to a time period of a child in the school system. It’s not about a particular teacher impacting a child but a teacher impacting that child. The moment this shift happens the pressure of time with a child shifts.
- Step 2: The shift which the teacher has to bring in their view is that she is not teaching a class but a group of individual students. They need to start addressing individual students vs. addressing the class as a whole
- Step 3 : Know your student. Spend time in getting to know each and every child in their class. As a teacher you may be shocked at this suggestion. Where is the time? Would be your question. There is a syllabus to complete, then FAs, SAs, checking, sports day, annual day and other functions and the list goes on. As it is we don’t get enough periods to teach. But remember students don’t listen or respond because they are not connected to the teacher. Once the connect is made they respond and respond quick. If you invest the first few periods in building the connect then it pays off really quick and large.
- Step 4: Move from being a teacher to a facilitator. The era of teacher being a knowledge provider is long gone. The role needs to shift to facilitate learning in the classroom.
- Create groups
- Ask them to work in groups
- Learn and teach each other
- Move around in the room moving from one group to another
- Make them responsible to manage their groups – nominate a leader
There are two ways of reading and evaluating the above. One is (where the default mode of thinking goes) – this sounds nice and utopian but it’s not practical or doable or have tried this before and it did not work. The second way would be to say – Let me try! But remember doing step 3 and 4 without Step 1 and 2 (in that order) is a complete waste of time and will ensure failure.
We as teachers have a great opportunity of make a real difference to our country. The future of the country is by default coming to us and that too for a period of 14 years! It’s now up to us to grab this as an opportunity and make a real difference in the life of children. That’s the world we are leaving behind for our own children.
Thank you for making a difference to children.