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Impressions of the Teaching Profession
The profession of a teacher and a teacher's role in an educational system is assuming new dimensions as the children's learning and family environment is getting more complex day by day. A few years ago, teaching was primarily concerned with imparting academic knowledge and this was often done with little consideration to the learning capability of the student, leading to high dropout rates and student alienation in schools and families, even resulting in the development of anti-social behaviour in children. Aggression, bullying and the increasing school violence are all considered as the result of such inappropriate teaching methodologies. If the student has learning disabilities, the consequence is even worse. Hence, the educational system presently lays much emphasis on the student's general developmental issues, (Smith, Cowie and Blades 1998), requiring the teacher to understand the learning capability of students and formulate such learning aids and teaching methodologies that would be congenial to the student. Teachers are also increasingly being prepared by the school administration to aid them to develop pro-social behaviour in students, making them more complete and valuable to the school and society as a whole.
The teaching profession is emerging as a highly challenging one, as the teachers today are faced with the need to understanding each of their students' general development and the way it would impact the school achievement, and to design teaching aids and methodologies that would address the individual student's learning needs and behaviour management. While understanding a student's general development, the main factors that are considered include the contributions of student's family and community environment, the developmental significance of friendships and the general development of such pro-social behaviors as empathy, kindness etc. The increasing acknowledgement of parent participation in the general development of the children and their achievement in school is evidenced from the fact that it has been established as a National Education Goal in the U.S. In 1994, however the 'teacher preparation in family involvement lags far behind school efforts to promote family involvement,' according to the Harvard Family Research Project, "New Skills for New Schools: Preparing Teachers in Family Involvement" released in 1997.
The report suggests various family involvement activities that could be carried out in schools to help teacher gain adequate knowledge of the students developmental issues and also focuses on the knowledge, skills and attitudes the teachers need in order to work with parents in an effective and fruitful manner. Teachers today are being more and more exposed to family involvement activities to improve the general family knowledge including the family beliefs; childrearing practices etc. And also to increased home school communication. More recently teachers are being encouraged by school administration to expose themselves to community experiences in the student community and also to 'cultural immersion' so as to learn about children coming from varied ethnic backgrounds. Teachers also need to aid themselves with inter-professional education and collaboration with other human service professionals so as to comprehend and provide for children's developmental, educational and learning needs.
The impact and importance of the role of friends in children's and adolescents' psychological development and social growth is vastly accepted. In order to understand the child's development the positive as well as the negative effects of friendship is to be considered with respect to children's development in the different aspects and areas of achievement. Hartup examines the developmental significance of friendships, while trying to understand children's development issues. Though the issue of "being liked" and "being disliked" is often associated to the social competence of children, the teacher need to consider the developmental significance of friendship by observing the nature of company that a child keeps, whether he enjoys the friendship, the personality of the friends that he keeps and the quality of friendship. Children are normally distinguished from one another and classified in psychological diagnosis based on whether they have friends or not.
Research has shown that children gain significant cognitive and social support from friends, which normally varies from the support provided by family and relatives, and also a child who possess friends normally are able to tackle normative transitions in a more mature way. However, if teachers need to envisage the developmental outcome of friendships, they are required to take time and effort to learn the behavioral characteristics and personalities of the children's friends, the age and gender variations in children's conceptions of friendships and also the qualitative aspects of the friendship. (Hartup, 1996) On gaining such understanding the teacher need s to devise intervention strategies so as to enable a positive outcome in the students- instances that the realm of teaching profession in expanding and becoming complex day by day.
Of all the aspects and the recent dimensions brought to the profession of teaching developing social competence in children is seen as a preliminary strategy to increase the learning capability and often the most challenging. A research study analysed by Jones designate that 'teachers rank individual students who have serious or persistent behavioral problems as their chief cause of stress', indicating the extent of challenge that developing pro-social behavior in children poses. (Jones, 1996) Teachers are often needed to take very direct and immediate action so as to moderate the classroom conflicts by means of socializing students in order to make them adjustable into a classroom environment favourable to learning. The main factors that promote student socialization include 'communicating positive expectations, attributes, and social labels; modelling and instruction of prosocial behavior; and reinforcing desired behavior' (Good & Brophy, 1995).
A caring attitude and an abiding spirit are the attributes that teachers need to possess today to guide students into a culture that encourages learning in the classroom. But then, teaching children to be more empathetic and altruistic is not as simple as it would sound. According to many psychologists, altruistic behaviors are voluntary and intentional actions that benefit another, and are not motivated by he desire to obtain material or social rewards where as prosocial behavior generally is used to refer to actions that intentionally benefit another, regardless of motive. Teachers are generally aware of the fact that behaviors that are reinforced or rewarded are more likely to be repeated than are behaviors that are not rewarded. Grusec had extensively studied the topic of development of pro-social skills and assert that positive reinforcement increases the frequency of prosocial acts. (Grusec, 1982) In developing altruistic and prosocial behaviors, Grusec points to the challenge involved by reinforcing that, though teacher' practice of prosocial behavior definitely influence children's prosocial development, the teacher's choice of influencing and correctional techniques are also involuntarily affected by the child's behaviors, (Grusec, 1982) making the task all the more a difficult one.
Apart from socialization skills teachers today also need to possess better counselling skills than that were needed in the past. Today, the complexities in families and communities and also the increased exposure to violence, both through the media and in everyday life, develop complex behavioural problems in students, making it difficult for them to participate in the lessons and adjusting to the classroom environment. The teacher need to understand the student's problem and congenially guide them to the learning atmosphere, for which he should posses such skills including relationship building by continually eliciting concern in the student's development, observing and tracking the activities of the student and initiate appropriate intervention strategies so as to keep them occupied with educational activities during class sessions, helping the children deal with their problems outside the class room in a more composed manner.
Other areas include resolving conflict both inside and outside the class room in a congenial manner and without encouraging power struggle, enabling the children to talk uninhibitedly and provide them with all information and support, help the students understand their own behavior better by listening and interpreting the incidences that…[continue]
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