Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Art of Teaching

Have you ever taught something to someone ? Even if you don't know, you have. At-least you must have taught yourself. Teaching yourself is a common thing that anybody could do. But teaching someone else is not an easy thing. To teach someone, you have to be confident of yourself and you have to be perfect in what you are going to teach. Then only your students could trust you. The trust helps immensely in the teaching-learning process. This process has to be always a two-way interaction, where the teacher requests - student responds and the student requests - teacher responds. If you know how to teach others, then definitely you know how to teach yourself.  

I guess now I have a good approach to what I'm going to tell you now. From this post, I'm going to tell you how my teaching career began. 

The students of St. Peter's College (my school) can join the academic staff as acting teachers after completing A/L exam. This is a great opportunity for the students at my school and I don't know whether it is possible in other schools also. Those who expect good results from A/L s, join the academic staff and work until the results are released. Even after the results are released, they can continue work until they get selected to a University. It is like a part time job as they are paid for the work.

So after completing A/L exam, I also joined the academic staff of St. Peter's College as an acting teacher in October 2009. I joined not because I wanted to, but some of my friends did and because they requested me to join. I thought it was a good opportunity for me to build up my career and to get exposed to some kind of employment environment.

I had to report to the office and collect the daily time table by 7.30 a.m. There wasn't any particular schedule for the acting teachers. If a teacher was absent, an acting teacher was assigned to that class. There were no  particular duties for the acting teachers, but to keep the students in the class silent and do some activity or lesson with them. There were days which I had to work all 8 periods in the time table and also there were days which I was not assigned even to a single class for a period. 

During the period of my work placement, I was assigned to almost every grade from grade 6 to grade 13 including Sinhala, English and Tamil medium classes. It was a wonderful opportunity. Two months before, I was a student and then suddenly I was a teacher. What a great transformation. 

There were so many hard times I faced and there were so many happy memories too. I got the worst experiences when teaching to grade 8 and 9. The teaching methods should vary according to the grade and what I found was like this.

Grade 6

The students are still kids. They love to play all the time. They don't find studying important at this age. (It is so due to the current education style where students are forced to study everything in the text books without letting learn new things on their own by experiments - This is only my idea). So when teaching them, use playful activities such as games.  

Grade 7

The students are becoming to show their hidden talents like singing, drawing and so on. So whenever I was assigned to a grade 7 class I gave the students to come in front of the class and present their talents to the audience. Among them there were so many good singers !! Some spent their free time on drawing. Most of the time they used to draw cartoon characters, imaginary vehicles, space ships and so on. I encouraged them a lot. 

Grade 8

Students love to play and engage in sports activities. Whenever they get a free period, they like to go to the ground and play. Most of the time they choose foot-ball, cricket or basket ball. (This may vary according to the facilities of the school). I had to take permission from the head of the section to take them to the ground and I had to take the responsibility of bringing them back to the class safely when the period was over. Students also understood this and behaved themselves well.

Grade 9

The worst best grade of schooling. The favourite subject of the students was Health Science. The favourite lesson was 'Sexuality and Reproduction'. They had so many questions in this subject and always questioned me about so many things. They said that teachers were not teaching that lesson at school. I think that's true but don't worry guys, you'll learn everything by the time pass. 

Grade 10

This is the critical year which decides your future path. Students learn so many new concepts in Science, Mathematics and Commerce subjects. How they grow their proclivity on the above subjects will help them to select the most suitable stream for the A/L s. 

Grade 11

The pressure grows on students as they are sitting for one of the most important exams in their life. Most of the students try to concentrate more on studies. Even the students who had given up studies, try to do something. 

Grade 12

More than learning the subjects on their own, students are concerned about the things like 'Who is the best Physics teacher for A/L s ?'. This is the critical period and they should guided to the correct track. 

Grade 13

Students know their own learning methods and also they like to improve them and learn new methods. They like to hear from those who have experiences. Most of the time they asked questions like 'How to remember the periodic table in chemistry?', 'What is the most efficient time to study?' , 'How many past papers should I do before the exam ?' .... 

The experiences I gathered helped me to come so far and I'll never forget them ( It is like I was following a course on 'Child Psychology' ).

This photo was taken while we were working as acting teachers. From left to right, Rajeendra, myself and Nilupa. 
Rajeendra got selected to the University of Sri Jayawardenapura for Physical Science and currently studying Computer Science, Mathematics and Statistics. Although Nilupa got selected to the University of Colombo School of Computing for Information and Communication Technology degree, he did A/L s again and this time he has got 2 A's and a B with a sufficient Z-Score to get selected to the Faculty of Engineering, University of Moratuwa. 

I learned so many things during that period and I experienced the Teaching-Learning process practically. A teacher likes to see his / her students become successful people in the society. Good teachers are always ready to guide and motivate their students towards success. I have met some great teachers like that during my schooling. I take this opportunity to thank Mr. Sunil Aponso, Mr. K. Arayasinghe, Mr. Rohan Ferdinandaz, Mr. W. L. Sirimanne and finally Mr. Wasantha Jayasuriya. I'm ever grateful to them. 

If not for their proper guidance, I would not be here to write this post. I dedicate this post to all my teachers. 

This photo was taken while I was teaching a lesson in Software Technology subject to some of my friends at SLIIT. From left to right - myself, Madhushan, Amalsha and Thejith. Before teach others, I teach myself (Have you ever noticed why 'Sams' books come with the phrase 'Teach Yourself' ? )  because I know what teaching is.

Finally I would like to tell you something. Never disturb your lecturers or teachers while they are teaching. Show them respect so that one day you'll get it back. The best way to understand your lecturer is to think like him / her. If I were you, what would I do ? This has helped me most of the time when I was in trouble. I learned to think like that while I was teaching at my school. When I found students misbehaving in the classes, I never punished them. I just looked back and imagined how I was at his age. I used to think like him and found that there was no difference between us because I was doing the same at his age !!! 

P.S - I worked there for nearly two months as an acting teacher and resigned on 22nd November 2009, in order to join the SLIIT orientation program on 23rd November.

If you are interested, watch the movies, 'To Sir With Love' part I and part II. A movie which speaks to your heart !

-Tharindu Edirisinghe-
-SLIIT 10'-


Sam Baheerathan said...

Excellent piece of writing brother.
I really enjoyed it.

Tharindu Edirisinghe said...

Thanks Sam.... SPC ROX !!!

Anonymous said...

Yeah me too enjoying every post on your blog... Keep it up..way to go brother

Tharindu Edirisinghe said...

Thanks for the comment...

Anonymous said...

Brother, go ahead.

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