Guest column: As a teacher, look for positives to inspire your students

One sees it as a huge privilege with an equally huge responsibility to be a teacher. At home, there are two or three pairs of young eyes observing and learning from the person, whereas, at school or college, the numbers are much larger. It’s not only the content taught, but, the manners, demeanour, attitude and the like, too. Everything is likely to get emulated, in one or the other way.

The importance of this can never be overstated. As an educator, Ivan Welton Fitzwater, has rightly said: “The future of the world is in my classroom today, a future with the potential of good or bad. I must be vigilant every day, lest I lose one fragile opportunity to improve tomorrow.”

A fragile opportunity it indeed is, because a single uncalled-for action, even if done unknowingly, can destroy the desirable impact of previous actions as one wrong word can harm sensitive minds.

What is required is the correct approach to be able to inspire students – but it’s a goal that cannot be achieved easily.

The teaching fraternity did, does, and will always try its best to rise to these expectations, by all means. But what about the students? Will they match up to the expectations that their teachers, family, and the society have of them? One will often hear laments that the student population does not care much for values. It’s perhaps with a deep parent-like concern that such views are shared, with a faint ray of hope that the scenario will change for the better.

After all, times are changing; and there’s no doubt about that. But, whatever we see/experience in life is mostly a reflection of our own inner world. The notion that students are ‘not as good as they used to be’ needs a second thought.

Maybe what’s required is ‘something more’ on the part of the teachers. Similar to a health related symptom or problem that is often a call for a change in lifestyle or situation.

Picking from neuro-linguistic programming, a relatively newer approach in psychology, our nerve processes, language and behaviour, are all connected. So, if I negatively criticise a particular student, it’s likely to set my expectations on a similar pattern, which will result in unwanted behaviour by the student.

Consider a contrast – I mention that the particular student seems to be having some blocks in the path of achievement, and is yet at least showing up in class. And, I praise him or her for the effort. This will likely raise the subconscious bar of expectation from that student, thus resulting in better outputs. Yes, it’s about being supportive. At the same time, as the definition of ‘Guru’ goes in our revered Upanishads, it’s about removing darkness from the lives of our students. We can’t do that unless we are ourselves ‘mentored’ – be it on our own, or by each other! We need to imbibe that inner voice for ourselves, or though each other. But imbibe we must!

Last but not the least, we grant different marks for different types of answers; similarly, we need to have different (customized) approaches, too; for different types of students. One size will never fit all.

Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, a remarkable personality who was, and still is extremely dear to every Indian’s heart, always used to say that he would like to be remembered as a teacher. That’s the kind of aura that this noble profession holds. Let us do justice to it. Let us be the epitome of inner strength, wisdom and patience. Let us inspire!

The writer is an assistant professor (psychology) at Rajiv Gandhi Govt College, Saha (Ambala).

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