Teaching is the greatest act of optimism. - Colleen Wilcox.
As per UGC mandate and norms, the recommended teaching hours in India varies between 14 to 16 hours per week. This depends on a lot of factors including whether you are a high school teacher, or university professor or you conduct online classes. Other important factors include your subject matter expertise, seniority among other school teachers, the experience of working in the education domain, as well as your rapport with students, and the support you are willing to offer beyond your classroom hours or teaching schedule.
Realistically, however, the working hours of a teacher extend way beyond the mandated norms and schedule. On average, a school teacher in India invests a total time of more than 2000 in a year. This is way higher than the mandate laid down in the National Education Policy. This means that the normal workday of a teacher extends beyond the regular teaching schedule. So what is the real work of teachers?
What Does A Teacher Do?
Schools and universities have come to contact teachers for many non-teaching activities that extend beyond the realms of creating content for a class or maintaining attendance records. This has widened the role of the teacher and unwittingly, put enormous pressure on the time management capacity of a teacher. While a lot of research in recent years has yielded many new training courses and study materials to help teachers in this domain, it is never enough. Nevertheless, the basic work and responsibilities of teachers remain the same. They include,
- Create academic content.
- Deliver effective lesson plans.
- Share relevant news and current affairs with students.
- Be a constant source of information over the course of study.
- Be a mentor and guide.
- Be a career counselor.
- Engage with parents and the community.
- Support in administrative school work.
- Provide data and report on students' progress.
Apart from all these, as a teacher, you also need to make home visits, at times and wherever applicable, organize cultural and academic events for the school, be a school representative, and much more. Whatever level you teach at, primary, secondary, or university, your teaching role is never really limited to just teaching alone. Needless to say, your work hours and work pressure are, at times, unimaginable, and often unmanageable. So, is there a way out? Find out what the experts have to say.
Useful Tips to Manage Your Teaching Schedule
The number of teachers available for the vast number of students in any country, be it India or England, is always less than what is desired. In India, the ratio is alarmingly skewed at 1:60, which means that you, alone, are responsible for the holistic development of 60 young children! Having said that, there are also ways for you to make each day, and each hour count.
Prioritize Your Day
A quick survey of top-performing resources in any company or institution will reveal that a huge part of excellence is derived from properly managing your time. And that starts with organizing your day according to priority. List down tasks in order of importance. Do not try to accomplish everything in one go. One of the most effective teaching methods is to be able to deliver content to your students according to their priority while keeping in mind their pace of learning. This, in turn, helps you prioritize your course delivery and create effective lesson plans.
The teaching staff is only as good as its students. Remember to assign enough work at home for your students instead of trying to stuff too much into your classroom content plan. This helps create ownership for the course and reduces your burden of work. You will be amazed to see the impact of this strategy in as little time as one week. Get your students to support you and create a two-way teaching-learning environment.
Do Not Procrastinate
You can easily avoid piling on assignments. Although it is easy to grade them in groups, try not to leave too much for later. Now that a lot of schools have transitioned to online classes, thanks to Covid, it is actually much easier to avoid procrastinating your work.
Always Have Backup Plans
Schools are unpredictable. Despite new processes and pathbreaking educational reforms, the work of the teaching staff remains ambiguous and dynamic. Teachers are the first point of contact for students, they are a conduit between schools and parents, and they are role models at large. It is thus important to be cognizant of the fact that your work as a teacher is not limited and that necessitates the provision of backup plans. Get all the help and support you can from others in the school and at home to ensure you are always prepared for any uncertainty.
Spend Time With Yourself
As a teacher, it is easy to lose yourself in all the madness of schools and universities and the growth of children. A little Me time can help a great deal in keeping your feet on the ground and not losing your cool. It also helps build clarity of thoughts, which can lead to the generation of some world-changing lesson plans and curriculum development.
Did you know that you can also use social media to expand your pool of students?
Tips for Effective Lesson Planning
Year after year, India produces thousands of teachers who aspire to change the face of education and leave their mark in the hearts of their students. But everyone succeeds. And the primary reason behind this is not a lack of ability but a lack of effective lesson planning and preparedness for class.
A lesson plan is nothing but a plan of action. So the more robust and detailed it is, the better. According to research, teachers need to invest at least 1 hour into creating a lesson plan for a 2-hour class.
Why is Lesson Planning Important?
As a piece of advice for teachers, any education expert would recommend the preparation of a solid lesson plan prior to delivering a lecture in class. Lesson plans are important because,
- They help to present new and unknown concepts in an organized manner.
- They clearly lay down the lesson objectives and outcomes.
- They give a direction towards lesson completion.
- They generate effective learning strategies.
- They help to achieve learning outcomes.
On average, about 50% of Indian teachers dedicatedly invest time to create a lesson plan for their class, while the remaining 50% don't. This is thus an area of concern. And this is despite many training sessions and courses emphasizing the need to have lesson plans and some schools and universities making it mandatory as well.
How can you prepare the best lesson plans?
Advice for Teachers- What Works and What Doesn't
As a teacher, you will collect many accolades and badges of appreciation along the way. But the true testament of your teaching skills comes when your students shine in whatever they choose to do in life. While a well-planned teaching schedule is critical to achieving your goals, there are also other factors that contribute to your teaching capability.
Be Assertive, But Not Aggressive
As a teacher, you are entrusted with managing several dynamic groups that differ in their interests, expectations, and personalities. It is thus important to be firm and assertive to achieve your goal while teaching. But there is a very thin line between assertion and aggression. Be mindful of it and try not to step on the other side.
Be Friendly, But Not A Friend
Teachers need to establish a friendly rapport with their students in order to build healthy working relations. But don't overdo it. The moment you start blurring the boundaries between professional and personal, you may lose sight of the goal.
Connect Your Lessons To Life
A good teacher is someone who has the ability to connect theory to practice. Stuff your lesson plans and content with real-life examples that are relevant to the student groups, and keep yourself updated on the latest news to be able to share relevant information from time to time.
Flex Between Teaching Styles
There is no one best way to teach. You have to constantly adapt to the changing needs of your students. It is difficult, but very effective, especially if you are teaching a culturally different group.
Lead By Example
Students are young individuals rearing to have a go at life. You, the teacher, have the power to influence and mold their future. Be sure to lead by example and lead well.
As Aristotle would say,
Educating the mind without educating the heart, is no education at all.
Remember that it always takes two to tango. Without each other, neither the teacher nor the student is complete. So, shun your fears, and charge into your classroom, all guns blazing, armed with the most effective and well-designed lesson plans your students would be proud to receive.