Rita Pierson in her Ted talk, ‘Every kid needs a champion’ explicates the calling of being a teacher. She says, ‘every child deserves a champion – an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be’ ( Pierson, 2013). This holds true now more than ever in this pandemic-struck world. Children’s academic well-being is in potential jeopardy due to the decrease in human connectedness that now is mostly via 13inch screens only.
When we were well on our way to realising the prophecy that technology would take over education, the pandemic threw a wrench in the gears. It brought out the realization that technology can never replace a human teacher. More than ever, it has dawned on people that it is human interaction and a living breathing homo sapiens who can teach and nurture. Technology is just a tool used to educate. As far as technology is concerned, students are just end-users, but for a teacher, a student is a life he/she is partly responsible for.
When educational institutions worldwide switched to online learning in early 2020, technology swept in as the saviour. Video Conferencing (VC) tools aided in supporting schools with teaching and learning. It allowed for schooling to go on despite schools being shut. Education leaders worldwide were in awe over the agility with which teachers adapted to the new teaching methods. Teachers quickly switched gears, adjusted, modified, innovated, and acquired new skills. The VC tools kept teachers and students connected on a platform and kept the learning going. The mode of teaching was revolutionized and led to a spike in interest with the new-found pedagogy. But at the back of every teacher’s mind was a glimmer of hope that come September, they would recover the learning loss and fill in the learning gaps through face-to-face interaction.
There is an ocean of information out there for anyone who seeks it. But a teacher is much more than a search engine. He/She helps students apply that information and learn from the information rather than just learn the information. It is only a teacher who can differentiate instruction based on his/her student’s need to draw out the most potential . A teacher is like an IV saline drip. He/she would inject the right medicine in the right amount at the right time.
The education industry is nearing a technology saturation phase with the plethora of digital tools used. Students have now what is called ‘Zoom or Teams fatigue’. In my opinion, nothing can replace a real class and a real teacher, teaching face-to-face. The pandemic has elevated a teacher’s role in a student’s life and has proved pandemic proof. Drawing from Simon Sinek’s book ‘The Infinite Game’, ( Sinek, S. 2019) just as education is an infinite game; so is a teacher’s game in education and teachers are here to stay forever.
Sinek. S (2019), The Infinite Game. Available at: https://youtu.be/3vX2iVIJMFQ
Pierson. R ( 2013), Every kid needs a champion. Available at: https://youtu.be/SFnMTHhKdkw
Neetha has an educational career spanning over 24 years in British Curriculum schools in Dubai. Currently, she is the Principal of Al Diyafah High School, Dubai. Neetha believes in facilitating innovation and change to build a continuous improvement culture and lead people through the transition. As a passionate professional development trainer, she has delivered workshops on pedagogical and leadership matters in schools and conferences.