Meet Mr. Abhinav Mukerji in Dec 2019 Teacher Spotlight series, an educator who is not confined to the stereotypes of the traditional education system.
Abhinav (MA, PGDM, B.Ed) is, an enthusiastic professional educator with 12 years of progressive experience in overall administrative and academic duties in the field of education, of CBSE syllabus schools.
Name: Abhinav Mukerji
School : Next Education
Designation: Sr. Academician
What/who influenced you the most to become a teacher? Why did you choose teaching as your career?
My Grandparents influenced me the most to become a teacher as they themselves were also from the profession of Teaching. I chose to be a teacher because teaching is not just a profession, it is a mission. ... I chose teaching because being with children is like being endowed with perpetual youth. The love, laughter, mischief, creativity and imagination of children are like an eternal fountain of joy and vitality
How have your past experiences prepared you for teaching?
My life experiences have taught me patience, understanding, empathy along with other skills like social and interpersonal skills, all of which are necessary to have when you are a teacher as you consistently learn just like others learn from you. My life skills will allow me to be a better leader for my learners.
What are the characteristics of an effective teacher?
The ability to develop relationships with their students. ...Patient, caring, and kind personality. ...Knowledge of learners. ...Dedication to teaching. ...Engaging students in learning.
How do you handle discipline problems? What is the most difficult aspect of discipline for you?
Maintaining Classroom Discipline
Know school guidelines for discipline procedures. Be fair, positive and consistent. ...Provide a list of standards and consequences to parents and students. ...Keep your classroom orderly. ...Get to know your students. ...Let the students know you care. ...Treat students with the same respect you expect from them; keep confidences.
Consistency! I discovered in all my experiences with children that the key to an effective discipline policy in any classroom is consistency. For me, consistency means three things: 1) If I have a rule, I must enforce that rule. 2) I shouldn’t hand out lots of warnings without following through on consequences. Lots of warnings tell students that I won’t enforce a rule. And, 3) I must be fair and impartial. I must be sure that the rules are there for everyone, and that includes girls as well as boys, tall people and short people, students with freckles and students without freckles, and special needs students as well as gifted students. Maintaining consistency is, and will continue to be, a challenge. But it’s a challenge I’m ready for.
The questions about discipline are many and varied. They can come in a number of ways. You need to be adequately prepared to respond to each and every one of them in a way that demonstrates your knowledge of this all-important topic and the specific ways you plan to address it.
How would you handle a student who is a consistent behavioural problem?
Try to understand where the behaviour is coming from. Is the student distressed by a death, divorce, new baby, learning disability, or some other overwhelming experience? Speaking to the student& parents or guardian may shed light on underlying causes and help you develop sympathy through understanding.
Help yourself manage negative feelings by reflecting on a past situation in your life where a similar conflict occurred. Discuss the situation with a friend or by writing your thoughts in a journal. Making and understanding these connections can help you let go of some of your current hostility or resentment.
Use positive strategies when dealing with the child. One such strategy is addressing specific behaviours with precise language that describes what needs to be done. In addition, try to seat the student near to you or a helpful student, praise the student liberally but sincerely, give the student choices to promote self-worth and feelings of control, be firm and consistent about your rules, and express displeasure with the student’s behaviour without criticizing the student.
Set a goal. If the situation between you and the child has not improved after two or three months of your best effort, it may be time to recommend professional/psychological/educational testing. Some problems are very complex and beyond your control.
Describe a teaching strategy you used to maximize the learning potential of all students.
Create Efficient Procedures
Classroom procedures are an essential part of the learning environment. Those teachers who operate their classroom like a well-oiled machine maximize student learning time. Teachers should develop efficient procedures for every aspect of the classroom. This includes routine activities such as sharpening pencils, turning in assignments, or getting into groups.
Eliminate “Free Time”
Most teachers give “free time” at some point during the school day. It is easy to do when we may not be feeling the best or we under-plan. But we know when we give it, we are not taking advantage of the precious time that we have with our students. Our students love “free time”, but it is not what is best for them. As teachers, our mission is to educate. “Free time” runs directly counter to that mission.
Ensure Quick Transitions
Transitions occur every time you switch from one component of a lesson or activity into another. Transitions when poorly executed can slow a lesson down tremendously. When done right, they are practiced procedures that are quick and seamless. Transitions are a major opportunity for teachers to gain back some of that valuable time. Transitions may also include changing from one class to another. In this case, students must be taught to bring the correct materials to class, use the bathroom or get a drink, and be in their seats ready to learn when the next class period starts.
Give Clear and Concise Directions
A major component in teaching is providing your students with clear and concise directions. In other words, directions should be easy to understand and as simple and straightforward as possible. Poor or confusing directions can stymie a lesson and quickly turn the learning environment into total chaos. This takes away valuable instruction time and disrupts the learning process. Good directions are given in multiple formats (i.e. verbal and written). Many teachers select a handful of students to summarize the directions before turning them lose to get started on the activity.
Have a Backup Plan
No amount of planning can account for everything that could go wrong in a lesson. This makes having a backup plan critical. As a teacher, you make adjustments to lessons on the fly all the time. Occasionally, there will be situations where more than a simple adjustment is needed. Having a backup plan ready can ensure that learning time for that class period will not be lost. In an ideal world, everything will always go according to plan, but the classroom environment is often far from ideal. Teachers should develop a set of backup plans to fall back on should things fall apart at any point.
Maintain Control of the Classroom Environment
Many teachers lose valuable instructional time because they have poor classroom management skills. The teacher has failed to gain control of the classroom environment and establish a relationship of mutual trust and respect with their students. These teachers are continuously having to redirect students and often spend more time correcting students than teaching them. This is perhaps the most limiting factor in maximizing learning time. Teachers must develop and maintain effective classroom management skills where learning is valued, the teacher is respected, and expectations and procedures are set and met beginning on day one.
Practice Procedural Steps With Students
Even the best intentions fall by the wayside if students do not truly understand what is being asked of them. This problem can be easily taken care of with a little practice and repetition. Veteran teachers will tell you that the tone for the year is often set within the first few days. This is the time to practice your expected procedures and expectations over and over. Teachers who take the time within the first few days to drill these procedures will save valuable instructional time as they move throughout the year.
Stay on Task
It is easy for teachers to get distracted and veer off topic from time to time. There are some students who, frankly, are masters at making this happen. They are able to engage a teacher in a conversation about a personal interest or tell a funny story that captivates the classes attention but keeps them from completing the lessons and activities scheduled for the day. To maximize student learning time, teachers must maintain control of the pace and flow of the environment. While no teacher wants to miss out on a teachable moment, you don’ t want to chase rabbits either.
What do you enjoy most/least about working with young people?
How happy they make me feel; seeing them learn and grow. They are so loving and fun. I enjoy the excitement of seeing them experience something new.
Some students always finish their assignments early. How would you deal with the free time that they have?
Better options for early finishers: Fun, meaningful, and differentiated activity packets.
These types of activities abound on the internet. Some are high quality, others are really nothing more than busy work. However, if you choose activities that are enjoyable and push students toward their learning goals, this can be decent option for fast finishers. For a couple of years, I put together “math fun packets” for my students which were a collection of challenging higher-level thinking activities (from various teacher resource books) that the kids loved. They got a new packet every quarter and could work on the pages in any order whenever they had time during our math block. I created three slightly different versions of the packet (below grade level, on grade level, and above grade level) so that students were getting differentiated skill practice. It took some time to put these together, but since I only did it once a quarter and could re-use them from year to year, it was worth it.
Computer-based skill reinforcement activities.
One of the best things about technology in the classroom is how easy it becomes to individualize instruction. High achieving students can be challenged by completing more advanced programs and games online; average workers who are fast finishers can play learning games that allow for reinforcement of skills they need more practice with. I’ve used CompassLearning Odyssey (my district had a subscription) for this purpose with great success: I created individualized learning paths for my students quickly and easily, and could track their progress. If you have iPads in the classroom, there are inexpensive apps that can do the same thing.
Individualized projects on topics the kids are passionate about.
This is one of my favourites. If you have a handful of kids that are high achieving and always seem to finish before someone else, meet with them one-on-one and design long-term projects they can pursue for the entire quarter. That’s not as much work for the teacher as it sounds like: one project idea that has been a hit with lots of my high-achieving third graders is researching animal adaptations and then creating a pop-book, slideshow, etc. for the class. They spend weeks reading books and websites on the topic and taking notes, then a few more weeks putting together their project (spending maybe 20 minutes a day on it.) This works really well for self-directed kids, who often create the project topic and guidelines themselves by the second semester.
My favourite solutions for early finishers: Differentiate your instruction as much as possible.
This is the ultimate solution to the early finisher dilemma, because students won’t finish early (or fall behind) as often when their tasks are differentiated and individualized. It takes time to learn how to do this (new teachers, don’t stress out!) but the better you get at it, the less often you’ll hear, “I’m done! Now what?” Open-ended activities are a great step in the right direction: try giving more of those as a start toward increased differentiation.
Structure your classroom so that everyone is not expected to do the same thing at the same time.
Moving away from whole-group instruction and practice will allow students to spend more time working collaboratively, in small groups, in centers, etc. These learning opportunities are not only more meaningful for students in many cases, they also eliminate the problem of having the entire class disrupted when one student finishes and starts doing something different…and it prevents the competition aspect of kids feeling pressured to hurry up once they see that their peers are done.
Have kids READ when they’re done early.
This is my number one activity for fast finishers because reading is ALWAYS a great use of students’ time. And bonus: it’s also the easiest for the teacher to manage! Let kids self-select a few books and keep them a book bin. Whenever they finish their work, they can grab their bin and choose one of the books to read. I gave my students the option to switch some or all of their book
out once a week during morning work time so they always had engaging reading material that they were looking forward to digging into.
How do you involve parents in the learning process? How will you inform them of what’s going on in your classroom?
Learning doesn’t end in the classroom, yet most parents are at a loss when it comes to supporting their children’s intellectual development. Many try to do too well and hover around them when they do homework, which can stifle creativity and self-development. Others let them roam free and hardly monitor their progress.
Yet, studies are unanimous: children are more successful at school when parents are involved. Better yet, teachers, too, are positively affected when parents take interest.
That’s because involved parents promote positive classroom behaviour, make sure children do their homework, help them be more organized, enforce disciplinary measures, and validate their effort.
For teachers, involving parents boosts positive self-perception and job satisfaction.
The challenge is to help them understand how they can help their child succeed.
Here are three strategies to involve parents in children’s education.
- Positive Study Environments
- Help parents find a balance that works for their child.
- Provide information and ideas about how to best assist with homework and other curriculum-related activities.
- Encourage reading at home by creating a custom reading list based on the child’s personality, interests, and level.
- Set up clear homework policies.
- Detail how parents should be involved and revise them on a case-by-case basis depending on the student’s progress.
- Ask parents to stick to a study routine and set up a homework-friendly area where distractions are kept to a minimum.
- That means enforcing a no-TV, computer, or phone environment.
Early & Frequent Communication
As teachers, we’re often wrongly seen as the nameless beings that unfairly grade children’s papers. Yet, above all, we’re parents’ partners in education. It’s critical to build a bridge and maintain an open door policy so parents can understand what you’re trying to achieve. Only then will they be able to complement your efforts outside the classroom.
A good way to do this is to communicate about school programs and child’s progress on an ongoing basis.
Start by introducing yourself at the beginning of the school year.
Keep a notebook of classroom facts, the curriculum, study resources, contact information, key terminology, and tips detailing how parents can support their child’s progress. Establish a homework hotline where families can call to retrieve forgotten or missed assignments.
Talk with parents, not at them.
Establish a rapport of equality and create a comfortable atmosphere. Place the student at the center of all communications, making sure that parents understand they are the priority. Avoid the education jargon and be concise. Don’t come with fixed answers. Rather, ask parents for their input and suggestions.
Ask families about their communication preferences.
This includes desired frequency and preferred medium of communication. Send class newsletters and performance reports accordingly. Not every parent likes to receive email updates every week. Don’t forget to share good news, too. It’s important that parents know that you’re not criticizing their children, but looking to make a difference.
Start a Classwise Whatsapp Group/blog.
This can be a fantastic tool to share classroom updates and involve parents you throughout the year. Public or private, your blog can become the place where you discuss study activities, your personal philosophy on teaching, field trips, and more. Edublog External link or Wix External link feature a wide array of easily customizable templates to get you set up with a professional-looking blog for free.
Seeing your face is a good way to humanize communications and to help parents to connect with you more effectively. This can be a friendly way for you to share major updates and methodologies with parents if you can’t do it in person. You’ll love Animoto External link or iMovies: they are incredibly easy tools to create and edit your own videos.
School Activities, encourage volunteering.
Ask families to participate in bake sales, lemonade stands, or car washes to raise funds for school supplies. It’ll provide an opportunity for them to spend time with you, ask questions, and see you in your element. Another good idea is to invite parents to talk about their careers and skills. This will enable them to connect with their child’s classmates and to become an active participant in the classroom.
Include them in decision-making.
Empower parents by creating a parent-teacher group. This will promote open communication and understanding between parents and school staff. Ask the group for their feedback about classroom activities, school programs, field trips, and events.
Get to know them better.
Organize parents-teacher workshops where you can discuss homework, tests, and study skills. Make these events fun and unique: turn “Mother’s days” and “Father’s day” into an opportunity to celebrate matriarchs and patriarchs and how they can respectively make a difference in their child’s progress.
What is your philosophy of teaching?
Begin simply with one or two sentences that neatly encapsulate your thinking. Then elaborate on what your philosophy means in practical terms. Then include an example of how you apply your teaching philosophy in the classroom. This will help make your philosophy even more concrete.
What are the three most important strengths you possess that will make you a successful teacher?
ability to solve conflicts, emotional intelligence, Creativity for teaching
TEACHERS SPOTLIGHT PROGRAM
The role of a teacher in society is both significant and valuable.It has far-reaching influence on the society he lives in and no other personality can have an influence more profound than that of a teacher. Students are deeply affected by the teacher's love and affection, character, competence, and moral commitment.
Yet teachers don't get their due respect and credit these days. We have started a Teacher Spotlight program where we recognise the effort of these silent and true Heroes of our society and tell their story.
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