Teachers can Save the World

Aug 16, 2021|4Quality Education

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 Have you ever considered becoming a teacher or thought about what it takes to become a good teacher? 

The expectations for teachers are high: 

  1. We expect teachers to have a deep understanding of what they teach and to keep expanding their knowledge base regularly.
  2. We want teachers to be passionate, compassionate, and thoughtful and respond effectively to students of different needs, backgrounds, and languages.
  3. We expect teachers to promote tolerance and social cohesion in the classroom.

Teachers can change the world; When you think about it, we spend more time with our teachers at school than we do with our parents at home during the school period. 

A good teacher can transform the way we think and how we decode the world around us. A successful teacher can help us understand who we are and guide us to reach our fullest potential, but what happens when there aren't enough teachers? 

The UN goal 4 focuses on Quality Education, and one of its main targets is to increase the supply of qualified teachers in developing countries by the year 2030. But what is a qualified teacher, and why does it matter? 


Becoming a Teacher

In many countries, to become a teacher, one must: 

  1. Graduate from university with a bachelor's degree program.
  2. Demonstrate basic competence and skills 
  3. Participate in student teaching or active teaching in a school
  4. Take a teacher certification test.

Teachers must also be patient, hard-working, have good communication skills, and have high empathy. According to the United Nations, in 2019, 81% of primary school teachers were trained, although that proportion was lower in sub-Saharan Africa (65%) and Southern Asia (74%). A poorly trained teacher can impact a pupil's behavior, and it can also change the way pupils perceive learning. 

Not everyone learns the same way; different people learn in different ways. These ways of learning are called "learning styles." For example, you can be either a visual learner, an auditory learner (by hearing), a kinesthetic learner (by touching and doing), or a reading/writing learner. Have you ever noticed you learn a subject better or faster by doing any of these activities? That is the reason why you might be better at some subjects and not as great at others. Your teacher's teaching style should adapt as much as possible to your learning style. However, this is not always possible, and it is even less common when teachers are not trained to deal with learning/teaching styles or don't know the subject matter. 

Untrained or poorly trained teachers may have the best intentions at heart. Still, they sometimes may result in children learning the same misconceptions they learned growing up and perpetuating myths. 


Teacher Training Around the World

Teacher training must also take into account the realities of student life. A student's regular day in the United States will be very different from a student in a developing country. For example, access to transportation, food, the internet, and clean drinking water will impact students' learning experience. 

Imagine if you didn't have access to the internet. How would this affect the way you learn and research information? Your teacher would have to adapt the lesson to meet your needs and access to resources; otherwise, learning becomes impossible and unfair. 

Teacher training should also include creating a curriculum that can offer life skills to improve students' everyday lives. In other words, not all 8th grades are or should be the same around the world. Different countries will require different sets of skills. For instance, in Europe, American history isn't necessarily part of the curriculum. Different countries will also teach different secondary languages at schools depending on neighboring countries or countries they often trade with. 

Teacher training also should be continuous through access to professional development. Unfortunately, studies have shown that only a small minority of American teachers receive the kind of sustained, ongoing professional development that research indicates can change teaching practice and improve student achievement.



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Thinking Cap On: 

Make a list of qualities you think a teacher should have and why. Can you match these qualities to any teacher or teachers you've had? Do you think teachers in all grades need the same skills, or do they differ depending on the student's ages? 

Interview one of your teachers and compare and contrast your list pre-interview with the findings you gather after interviewing your teacher. What did you discover?