For the past 5 years, I have been training ‘would-be’ teachers, and as my blog articles clearly reflect, I did much to equip students with knowledge and skills of ‘affective teaching’ practices to help children learn to the maximum. I equally emphasized the need to hold children responsible for their own learning by providing positive and stimulating learning environment (I like to think of teachers as ‘designers’ of learning environments) – most of all, I kept encouraging these would-be teachers to focus on building a community of learners who would love to think (creatively and critically).
Now, as a school administrator, I am required to play a different role. My initial thoughts were that I need to conceptualize and plan out ways to improve students’ learning. In a way I was right to do this. A school is only as good as the performance of its students. To have more students perform well academically would also help the school get more new students interested in joining and eventually increase enrollment. But just when I was pre-occupied with these notions, I realized that I needed to re-focus and channel my energies somewhere else. I had the right intention, but I was going too fast – I was going ahead of everyone else. I needed to get back to the basics and lay a strong foundation, before I could even think about strengthening students’ achievement level.
This realization caught me by surprise, but I also knew that it makes sense to think of the whole situation from a different perspective.
Teachers – Yes! I need to focus on the teachers. If teachers are happy in the school; if they feel good about working in the school; if they feel personally connected to the school, its philosophy and mission, its leaders, colleagues, students, parents – the school would be a much better place – safe, positive, and supportive of excellent learning experiences.
I need to focus on the teachers. I need to make them feel special for being educators. I need to make them feel special being a part of the school and what it believes. I need to make them feel important and realize how their every word, behavior, thought, and feeling affects students for a lifetime. As I focus on the personal and professional development of my teachers, they would go all-out to become better teachers and effective designers of positive learning environments.
I used to encourage my would-be teachers to hold children responsible for their own learning. Now, I am going to hold my teachers responsible for their own excellence in teaching – to become more creative and innovative in their teaching. I will provide them with sufficient support, guidance, and appreciation. I will be there for them and constantly work on designing a positive working environment. When I do this, they will invariably strive to be the best they can be – they would become a great blessing to all the students in the school.
After all these years, I am still a designer – and I will continue to design educational environments that would help both teachers and students to grow as individuals and fulfill their potential.