January 16, 2018

To become an effective teacher

Dr. Myo Win
Yangon University of Education

I am an associate professor in Methodology Department, Yangon University of Education. I entered my teaching profession as a primary assistant teacher in a state primary school in Thebyu village, Labutta township in 1981. So I have been a teacher for about 35 years. May I share my teaching experience with the reader?
To be frank, I did not know how to teach at that time. Children were very playful. I wanted them to sit still while I was teaching. But, as soon as I stood with my back to them, they started to move. I wanted them to study. But they wanted to play. While I wanted them to be silent, they wanted to make a lot of noise. When they did not obey me, I became angry. When I became angry, I used to beat them. As a teacher, I loved my children. So I wanted them to understand what I taught. When they did not understand what I taught, I scolded or beat them. My children were often scolded or beaten. But they still did not understand what I wanted them to understand. My action did not fulfill my wish. Why? I could not answer that question at that time.
In 1986, I attended one year JAT training course in Pathein Teacher Training College to be a junior assistant teacher. In that course, I had to study educational theory among other academic subjects. I still remembered what the principal said at an assembly. He said that
a teacher is similar to a shepherd. The only thing a shepherd can do is to take all the sheep to a stream to have a drink. But he cannot make every sheep drink water. Those sheep which are not thirsty do not want to drink water even though they are at the stream. After his speech, I at once remembered my children in Thebyu primary school. Was I a shepherd who could not make my children drink water? The principal left me one question- How should the teacher motivate his students if they do not bring their own intrinsic motivation into the classroom?
After JAT training course, I attended B. Ed one year course in Institute of Education in 1987. In that course, I had to study educational theory, educational psychology, methodology and two specialized subjects. After studying educational theory, I started to know that to be a good teacher, he must have at least two qualifications: academic qualifications and professional qualifications. To possess academic qualifications, a teacher must know his subject. To possess professional qualification, the teacher must know how to teach his subject effectively. To be able to do so, educational theory, educational psychology and methodology help a teacher. After studying educational psychology, I became to know child psychology. Then I realized why my children in Thebyu primary school did not do what I wanted them to do. As I realized the nature of children, I also realized how to use extrinsic motivation if students did not bring their intrinsic motivation into the classroom. Now I could answer the question that I could not when I was a primary teacher. I also understood the importance of ASK. Then I realized it is not easy to become an effective teacher. A person who earns his living as a hunter must know the habit of wild animals. He must also know how to use his bow and arrows skillfully. Otherwise, he cannot become a good hunter. If a village boy is asked to hunt deer, giving him a bow and arrows, he cannot be expected to hunt animals simply because he is not skillful in hunting. At least, he must learn how to hunt under the control of an experienced hunter.
After B.Ed course, I became a senior assistant teacher in No (2) Basic Education High School, Labutta, my native town. I worked there for seven years from 1988 to 1995. I could use the knowledge that I studied in Institute of Education in my profession. Later, most students passed the BEHS examination with good marks. Their parents started to recognize me as a teacher who could teach very well. To tell the truth, I was pleased with such praise, forgetting ASK. ASK is an acronym. But it is not as well-known as UN, UNESCO, USA, etc. It is well- known only in education circle. It shows the objectives of teaching. Why do we teach? We teach our students because we want them to develop attitude, skills and knowledge. In fact, the objective of teaching is not only to develop students’ academic performance. If a teacher places too much emphasis on the subject he teaches, he can be said to be dutiful only one third of his duties. He must also make his students physically strong. He must have the ability to relate his students’ theoretical knowledge in the classroom with practical application for his real life. The third part which is technically termed as affective domain is most important. It is a must for the teacher to instill his students with right attitude. It seems fair to say that most teachers place too much emphasis on their students’ excellent academic performance. They seem to take pride that they can teach their students to have all Ds. It is my only sincere wish to remind teachers that it is not sufficient for us to be able to produce academically strong students. It is also our chief duty to nurture them to become
well disciplined, kind-hearted, patriotic, etc. so that they will become useful members of the society.
While I was a tutor in Thegon Teacher Training School in Pyay in 1995, I attended M. Ed course on deputation term from 1995 to 1998. In one module in the course, I had to study professional ethics. To be able to say that one is a professional, he must have at least three qualifications: expertise, commitment and ethics. Without these three qualifications, one cannot be said to be a professional. To be an expert in one field, one must have training in this field. Without training, one cannot become a professional. I became a tutor in Yangon Institute of Education in 1999. As in Pathein TTS, there was usually staff meeting at the end of every month. I still remembered rector’s speech at one meeting. He said that when there was a strong wind, Mr. A built a great wall and Mr. B built a windmill. After some time, the wall was broken down but the windmill still produced electricity. What he wanted to point out was not to prevent nature but to use it. Again, I immediately remembered my children in Thebyu primary school. In fact, when I was a primary assistant teacher, I was Mr. A. A good teacher knows how to exploit the nature of children in his teaching. Therefore, language games, teaching through playing are successful in teaching children.
In conclusion, the teacher plays a vital role in education. The future of the society depends on the youth of this society. In the same way, the future of the youth also depends on the teacher. Therefore, we, the teachers should always try to become effective teachers. —To teachers


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