Partha Pratim Mazumder
Teachers play vital roles in the lives of the students in their classrooms. Teachers are best known for the role of educating the students that are placed in their care. Beyond that, teachers serve many other roles in the classroom. Teachers set the tone of their classrooms, build a warm environment, mentor and nurture students, become role models, and listen and look for signs of trouble.
The stereotype around elementary school teachers is that they are always “peppy” and “happy” and full of life. While this may hold true for some elementary school teachers, it sure does not for all teachers. As you know, having a job in the teaching profession can be quite challenging. Teachers have a lot of pressure on them. Not only do they have to learn and teach the common core standards to students, but they also have the challenging job of making sure that their students are ready to be productive citizens once they get out of school. With all of this pressure, along with the responsibilities of lesson planning, grading, and discipline, the job can sometimes take a toll on any teacher, no matter how “peppy” their nature. To help relieve some of these pressures, use these tips on a daily basis to help you deal and, hopefully, bring some joy to your life. One of the best ways that you can achieve happiness is to take time for yourself. Teaching is a very selfless profession and sometimes you just need to take a moment and do something for yourself. Teachers spend so much of their free time scouring the internet looking for effective lesson plans or grading papers, that they sometimes end up neglecting their personal needs. Set aside one day of the week for lesson planning or grading, and set aside another day for yourself. Take an art class, go shopping with a friend, or try that yoga class that your friends are always trying to get you to go to. According to Harry K. Wong in the book “How to Be an Effective Teacher” the way a person chooses to behave (as well as their reactions) will dictate what their life will be like. He says that their are three categories of behavior that people can exhibit, they are protective behaviors, maintenance behaviors, and enhancement behaviors.
One of the many problems with social media is the ease with which people can present their lives in any way they wish. As a result, people tend to only portray the version of themselves and their life that they want others to see. If you are scrolling down your Facebook news feed you may see many teachers that look like they have it all together, which can be quite intimidating and result in feelings of inadequacy. Compare yourself to no one. It’s hard not to compare yourself to others when we have Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest in our lives. But just remember that it probably takes some of these teachers hours to create the perfect-looking lesson. Do your best and try to be satisfied with the results. Never underestimate the power of a nice outfit. While dressing up to teach a bunch of elementary students may seem like a bad idea, research shows that it can actually make you feel happier. So the next morning that you want an instant pick-me-up, try wearing your favorite outfit to school. We’ve all heard the expression, “Fake it ’til you make it.” Turns out, it might actually work. Some studies that show if you smile when you are unhappy, you can trick your brain into feeling like you are happy. The next time your students are driving you crazy, try smiling—it might just turn your mood around. Do you find that you tend to be alone a lot when you are feeling unhappy? Studies found that the more time unhappy people spent socializing with others, the better that they felt. If you’re spending a lot of time by yourself, try getting out and socializing with your friends or colleagues. Go eat lunch in the faculty lounge instead of your classroom, or go for that drink after school with your friends. There have been so many studies conducted that show that the more that you do for others, the better you feel about yourself. The sheer act of doing a good deed can make a huge impact on your self-esteem, as well as your happiness. The next time that you are feeling down, try doing something nice for someone else. Even if it’s just holding the door open for a stranger or making extra photocopies for your colleague, paying it forward can really improve your mood.Studies find that focused listening to music that is upbeat, or even just reading lyrics that are positive, can improve your mood. Classical music is also said to have a mood-boosting effect on people. So the next time you’re sitting in your classroom and are in need of a pick-me-up, turn on some upbeat or classical music. Not only will it help to boost your mood, it will help your students’ moods as well. A lot of us spend a lot of our time focusing on what we don’t have, rather than focusing our time on what we do have. When we do this, it can make you feel sad and unhappy. Try expressing gratitude and focusing all of your attention on the positive things that you have in your life. Think about what is going right in your life, and all of things that you are grateful for. Each morning before your toes even hit the ground, say three things that you are grateful for. Here are a few examples of what you can do each morning to express gratitude.
Citing the World Happiness Report, 2018, in which India ranked 133 among 155 nations in the global rankings, the curriculum calls for schools in India to promote development in cognition, language, literacy, numeracy and the arts along with addressing the well-being and happiness of students. It further says that future citizens need to be “mindful, aware, awakened, empathetic, firmly rooted in their identity…” based on the premise that education has a larger purpose, which cannot be in isolation from the “dire needs” of today’s society. Teachers should teach in many ways including lectures, small group activities and hands-on learning activities. Teachers also play an important role in the classroom when it comes to the environment.
Students often mimic a teacher’s actions. If the teacher prepares a warm, happy environment, students are more likely to be happy. An environment set by the teacher can be either positive or negative. If students sense the teacher is angry, students may react negatively to that and therefore learning can be impaired. Teachers are responsible for the social behavior in their classrooms. This behavior is primarily a reflection of the teacher’s actions and the environment she sets.Teachers typically do not think of themselves as role models, however, inadvertently they are. Students spend a great deal of time with their teacher and therefore, the teacher becomes a role model to them. This can be a positive or negative effect depending on the teacher. Teachers are there not only to teach the children, but also to love and care for them. Teachers are typically highly respected by people in the community and therefore become a role model to students and parents. Mentoring is a natural role taken on by teachers, whether it is intentional or not. This again can have positive or negative effects on children. Mentoring is a way a teacher encourages students to strive to be the best they can. This also includes encouraging students to enjoy learning. Part of mentoring consists of listening to students. By taking time to listen to what students say, teachers impart to students a sense of ownership in the classroom. This helps build their confidence and helps them want to be successful. Another role played by teachers is a protector role. Teachers are taught to look for signs of trouble in the students. When students’ behaviors change or physical signs of abuse are noticed, teachers are required to look into the problem. Teachers must follow faculty procedures when it comes to following up on all signs of trouble.