Teaching is one of the oldest known, most dignified and reputed professions. In ancient India, teachers were in great demand. The schools then were the Ashrams or Gurukuls where students lived and learnt not only skills for different trades but also life skills. And most importantly behavioural skills that focussed on developing an all-round personality.
Even today teachers have the power to transform the students’ lives though the pedagogy has changed to a great extent. The teaching aids are more evolved and easily accessible. The learners’ profile and interests too have changed.
Teaching has taken a new definition today. It is not limited to classrooms and academic subjects. Teaching is required in all spheres of life, be it academic or otherwise. Based on the nature of teaching required the names of teachers too have evolved. They are now known by varied names such as coaches, mentors, guides, tutors, trainers, advisers.
What does it take to be a teacher today?
Teaching is not an easy job. If you want to choose teaching as a profession, the competencies you must possess are good communication, focussed listening, ability to engage and to collaborate, be patient, be adaptable, be a lifelong learner and above all this, possess love for teaching.
Some of these competencies can be built over a period of time with adequate practice but some are innate. For example, communication, listening, and collaboration can be developed by practising. Being patient, adaptable and engaging is innate. Before choosing teaching as a profession, one must introspect to see if they possess a love for teaching. This is the strongest qualifier, if this is in place rest can be acquired. Teaching also requires a flair for storytelling that engages the students.
Teaching can be a very fulfilling career. As a teacher, you are learning something new every day and upgrading yourself. The joy of seeing your learners realising their full potential and blossoming into great individuals has no parallels. Teachers can almost be compared to mothers who nurture their kids and shape their personalities. The only difference is that a mother is always attached to her child whereas great teachers need to develop detached attachment so that they can give enough room for the learners to grow and even tower over them someday.
What is your teaching quotient?
Teaching Quotient (TQ)is roughly the measure of how effective you are as a teacher? Is your teaching method teacher-centred or is it learner centred? The learner-centric methods of teaching are found to be more effective. Inquiry-based learning that involves discussion, delegation and facilitation and cooperative learning that involves discussion, assignments and facilitation are examples of student-centred learning.
A great TQ is a right mix of Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and Emotional Quotient (EQ). For teaching younger learners, higher EQ is required. An example is a Primary school teacher who needs to have a higher EQ because students at this age may forget what you said but will remember how you made them feel. Whereas for training or coaching in specialised skills higher IQ is needed. This also requires the teacher to be an expert in the skills being taught or trained on. A great example would be Ramakant Archrekar, coach to the legendary Sachin Tendulkar. He would not stop pushing Sachin till he became the master blaster.
What are the opportunities in the field of teaching?
Teaching careers have become extremely versatile and several job options are available in the teaching profession. After introspecting if you do choose teaching as a profession, you could choose to be a teaching professional in academics right from teaching at playschool to teaching at university to doctoral program students. You could also choose to be an art teacher, physical education teacher or a special subject teacher like mathematics. The next set of opportunities would be in the area of specialist teacher/ trainer teaching a skill like painting, sculpting, cooking, designing, coding, project management etc. Another option in teaching is to become a personalised coach in areas like sports, life skills, dancing, physical fitness, etc. To choose this option one needs to master these fields.
The opportunities for teaching are innumerable, as per Gerd Leonhard, the futurist and humanist, youngsters today have more than 32000 career options. That means there are more than 32000 teaching opportunities and this has a multiplier effect. One non-negotiable factor in choosing a teaching career is the unlimited passion for the subject that you want to teach.
What do you want to teach?
You could be teaching the young toddlers their alphabets and numbers or you could be teaching an eighth-grader algebra. Or you could be teaching a group of adventurous people rappelling on a steep slope or teaching knitting to eager grandmoms-to-be. You could be teaching in a school or at a university. You could be teaching one on one or in large groups. You could be teaching in person or online.
The mode, method, number of learners, the profile of learners, place of teaching does not matter much. What matters is what you want to teach? Are you passionate about it and can you pour your heart into it?
To quote Daniel Irvin Rather Jr. an American journalist and former national evening news anchor, “The dream begins, most of the time, with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you on to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called truth.”
Do you have it in you to do that?