THE CHALLENGE OF BEING A GOOD TEACHER IN PANDEMIC TIMES!
The great professor Luis Jaime Cisneros said: “…few people talk about learning quality and the learning quality depends on the teaching quality and the teaching quality depends on the work with teachers.”
What Luis Jaime Cisneros states is undoubtedly a great truth, but for achieving it there are many factors that intervene, which must be combined correctly to mark our students and for us to be unforgettable teachers. It is true that the context we are living is an enormous challenge for teachers, because we have to face many situations that we are not used to them, such as permanent videoconferences, application of pertinent strategies in online classes, proficiency in the use of different platforms, personal “online” attention to our students, etc. However, all these have not become an obstacle for keeping ourselves working with passion in our virtual classrooms.
Some grandiloquent voices have been saying that teachers are not fully adapted to the requirements that education in covid-19 asks for. This might be true for a minority, because for most teachers this crisis has been a moment of opportunities to strength our creativity and look for new solutions to new problems.
If we worried about having a proper performance during our in-person classes, today our dedication is even more important, it must be at its highest.
It is necessary to bear in mind some aspects in the development of our virtual classes, so I propose you to reflect together.
What factors must be considered for being good teachers and allow meaningful learning even in pandemic times?
We must bear in mind that teaching is a service activity, in which the teacher puts into practice his leadership, knowledge, communicative competence, creativity and critical thinking. Even though, all these aspects are recognized by students, there is something that they value even more and are grateful for: kindness. It has been proved that if teacher-student relationship is positive, it will have a positive influence on students’ academic performance.
Good affective environment for learning must be based on mutual respect and putting aside repressive attitudes, since what matters is that teachers are respected and admired by the students due to their experience and wisdom.
The teacher, as agent of the environment in the classroom, has the power to develop students’ talents as well as reduce them as much as possible.
Teachers must have pedagogical tact, which means to respect others’ dignity and to be receptive to the subjectivity of others, no matter how old students could be.
MOTIVATING LEARNING SESSIONS
Many of our students are under a great pressure, due to different causes: sick relatives, scarce socialization opportunities, digital gap, economic problems, etc. Stressful situations that usually provoke depression. Sometimes, virtual classes are the only refuge they have. They are a moment in which they can talk, make jokes, express what they feel, and especially, to be heard. From here it becomes a necessity to develop motivating, contextualized and formative classes, because what really matters is not to make progress for covering the contents of the curriculum, but to create spaces so then the student can build his/her own knowledge, taking into account his/her interests and concerns.
We emphasize that learning virtual classes/sessions have different challenges: they must be dynamic, interesting, productive and enjoyable. For this reason, it is necessary to have pedagogical and didactic tools that allow us an ideal teaching and learning process’ development, in which the objective is to develop both sides of the brain (right and left hemispheres) in the classroom.
For organizing and leading successful sessions is convenient to consider some reflections from teachers Daniel Dreifuss and Odette Velez:
- Regular teachers evaluate results; great teachers value learning.
- Regular teachers answer and present the world as an ended reality; great teachers ask and stimulate constant discovering.
- Regular teachers just teach (they only speak and tell); great teachers learn (they listen and know when to remain silent)
- Regular teachers are instructors who only achieve their authority role; great teachers promote skills’ development, autonomous, creative, critical and ethic learning formation and look for helping students -and themselves- to improve as human beings who look for being excellent and searching for getting achievements.
If we want to change learning, we must change evaluation. I believe everybody coincide in that summative evaluations should be avoided. The context we are living is not appropriate for evaluating. We must remember that to evaluate is something comprehensive and not quantitative. Today, we prioritize formative evaluation, the one that stimulates students’ autonomy, learning’s structuring and skills development.
We have to recognize that not only students are suffering the consequences of the pandemic, teachers are affected in different forms as well, but we assume our responsibilities with the school, the families and with ourselves, through our self-improvement and personal and professional progress.
Sometimes those responsibilities make us to feel afraid, but we must not feel overwhelm by fear or fatalism. We are conscious that for being an authentic teacher there are positive actions that are required, and they must be impulse by the idea that learning lasts all your life.
In our daily work we should consider what Carlos Dulanto said: “A great teacher is a passionate person for what he does. A good teacher knows that emotions are contagious, that our students will be more willing to listen to us when they see us more as humans rather than gods. The passion of our work generates bonds and wakes up curiosity. Then, and just then, a great teacher surprises his students with his knowledge. It is as that magician that keeps you on the threshold during the whole show. This is how a great teacher is, he makes emotional connections with his students, generating a sense’s hook and breaking everyday nature.”
Everybody or almost everybody knows that within ourselves after all these experiences, the school, the students, parents and teachers will not be the same, we must be better, we must be the authors of the blossoming of life in community, of hope, of justice, or true and of solidarity.
“—without crisis there are no challenges, without challenges life is a routine, a slow agony. Without crisis there are no achievements. It is in crisis where it appears the best of each of us, because without crisis every wind is just a caress. To talk about crisis is to promote it and to keep silent in a crisis is to exalt conformity. Instead of this, we must work hard. Let’s finish once and for all the only menacing crisis, the tragedy of not fighting to get over it.” (Albert Einstein)
Flor de María Muñoz Cuadros
Teacher at “Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion”