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Why not teachers take a role reversal


Latha vydianathan




-Latha Vydianathan

The Primary Coordinator at Delhi School of Excellence, Hyderabad

Once in a while if teachers could go sit in a class it would help in more ways than one. Getting into the shoes of a student can help teachers get better

A teacher must assess the teaching methodology periodically. While learning outcomes of students in the classroom is a general parameter, an unconventional estimation is the need today- Observe a classroom from the student’s perspective. I had the opportunity to sit in on a class that was totally unrelated to my field of English Language teaching and here is my collective take away.

  • Be a Student

If you can tear yourself away from your busy schedule, take the time to go sit in on a class. Choose a class that is not in your discipline. This will ensure that you don’t get bogged down in the theories and concepts. Instead, you will focus on the mechanics of teaching the class.

  • Use slides sparingly

I am not the first one to point this out but it bears repetition. Do not rely only on PowerPoint slides. Use them to show pictures and diagrams. But if you have to explain a concept, use the whiteboard. In the class that I was observing, the moment the slides came on, I could see students reach into their skulls and turn off a switch. Eyes glazed, bodies slumped and mobile phones came out of pockets.

  • Stop playing with the lights

I had never, not for a moment, thought of light management as a factor in knowledge retention. Here’s what I observed. The instructor dimmed all the lights and put up the slides. The only ambient light was from the screen. After ten minutes of lecture and several slides later, the instructor turned on all the lights. While pupils were narrowing to adjust to the bright lights, the instructor was reeling off instructions for the next assignment. I realized that none of us heard the instructions since we were physically reacting to the light.

I repeated this in my classroom. Instead of turning off all lights, I turned off just the screen lights. Although the assault on the optic nerves was not so palpable, there was still some blinking of the eyes.

Try to reduce the number of times you have to turn the lights off and on again. If you have to absolutely have a dark classroom, wait for students to adjust to the light levels before you start talking. Don’t assault their senses.

  • Multi-tasking is not for everyone

The instructor gave students a writing task. She gave them ten minutes to complete the task which required students to reference their texts. When they were three minutes into the task, the instructor started talking about the need to use references. Students who had just begun to find the relevant page in their texts, lost their place and ended up not hearing the instructions in full. They lost a couple of minutes in the process. This was repeated again after another three minutes. The net result was that students got only six minutes out of the allotted ten to complete their task. Multiple interruptions meant that they could not fully concentrate on their task and they missed any helpful instructions that were given.

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