Many of us are starting to see, feel and sense that education is changing its criteria and dimensions. There are significant changes in classroom teaching, teacher and student relationships and knowledge assessment. This article will take a closer at what both teachers and students expect from lessons.
Take a look back to your school years. Do you remember your favourite teachers? Yes? Some would say that is because the teacher had exceptional teaching skills, others might argue it is because he or she cared about the students, while another group might look back fondly because of some life advice they were given. I remember my math teacher in school and my university linguistics lecturer. You may be surprised but both of them shared the same features: they were professional and smart enough to guide students in career and life situations. Based on my own experiences and what I have heard from others, I am going to present three tips as to how you can become a better tutor.
Why Care and How to Show It
Deep in our hearts, we are all children and, like children, we all need care. The feeling of being important and cared for is the feeling that drives most of our actions in life.
An example from my own teaching experience: one of my students was having a tough time with her boss. Actually, there was a discrimination issue. I came across some interesting talks about discrimination and shared the videos with her. For the next lesson, we discussed the video and what she learned from it that might help in her future actions. For a few following lessons, we discussed the situation and I sent her talks and quotes that might motivate her to face the challenge. After she solved the problem, she confessed that at some point she was ready to give up classes with me as she was very depressed and could not find any motivation to study and develop her skills. But just because she felt that I understood her situation and was ready to help, it spurred her to continue.
This is one of many cases in my teaching experience that proved why caring is important. So, should we care about the life and problems of our students? Yes! Some people might argue that this is a job of a psychologist and my job is to teach. I agree. But you cannot teach a person if he or she is depressed and has some psychological distance with you. We are are not going to be successful if our students do not like us. I want my students to wake up in the morning and say “I have a class with Lusine and I am not going to miss it.”
Develop Your Teaching Skills
As a teacher myself, I have to say that every and each of my class, even at the same level of students, can be extremely different from each other. As teachers, we have to adapt our techniques and methods to our students’ needs. To be able to fully adapt, you have to be very flexible. In general, teachers should be able to answer the questions “what, where, when and how”, but good ones are also able to answer the question “WHY?” Students can find the answers to factual questions but they need to be taught how to find the answers to “why?”
Teaching is extremely interesting and, believe me, it also brings out skills you do not even suspect of having. For a period in my life, I had to give up teaching and do IT training. I discovered that some of my training sessions were useful, just because I used the techniques that I apply in my classroom teaching.
Nowadays, the role of teachers is different. It is not to give knowledge; the students can easily find it online. Professional teachers help students question the statements, find arguments, set goals and position themselves. Students know they can trust professional teachers, and they do. Students know they will not waste their time with you and they do not. They trust because you are exceptional.
Remember you may not know the answers to every question. And it should not be your main aim. However, you should drive your students to learn how to find the answers to their own questions. In some cases, being able to question something is a skill that has to be developed. To be able to ask the right questions is crucial in life if you want to succeed. Helping students question their positions and stereotypes is the role of a teacher. To educate is to show the way; it is never to take the hand of a student and bring him/her where they want to be. To educate is to show the light and ways to reach the light. To educate is to help a person become a better version of himself/herself.
If we just give knowledge and facts, if we just correct the mistakes and explain the rules, we become just “lesson deliverers”. Being an educator is a mission, not just a job.
To conclude, let me wish you good luck with your teaching. I am sure setting high standards for yourself every day will guarantee the road to a successful and fulfilling teaching career. Just remember: great teachers are important. They can make a life and they can change a life, and even more, they can help you see what you need to change in your life.