Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I am One Semester Old!

My first semester as a teacher is over. Did I enjoy this semester as a teacher? Very much! Having no prior experience in teaching I had some apprehension if I would do well as a teacher. But the last five months has given me a lot of confidence that I can be a good teacher. 
When I joined here in VIT one of the fellow professors told me that as a teacher always be good at heart, towards the students. I have tried my best to put this into practice. I made it a point to talk to all my students with a smiling face. Whenever a student comes to my cabin with a doubt in the subject or seeking some advice or with some other issue I make sure I give them enough time and also make sure that they go out of my cabin with a smiling face. Students are free to come to my cabin any time I am in my office and moreover I have allowed them to contact me over email and mobile phone. I made it a point that I should be easily accessible to all my students. 
In the class I give importance to arouse the interest of the students in the subject rather than finishing the syllabus. In this highly connected world there are lots of avenues out there for students to study the various topics of the syllabus. For that to happen a student should develop an interest in that subject and I believe my role is to create that interest as a teacher. One thing I noticed in the class – these Generation Y kids hate the traditional way of teaching – using black board and chalk and professor lecturing for hours and hours. They prefer visual form of study rather than the traditional form. I have made it a point to make minimum use of the black board and whenever possible use videos, animations and power point slides to make the class room more interactive. The feedback I got from the students is very encouraging that gives me courage to try out more innovative teaching techniques in the coming semesters. 
I also believe that a teacher should be a “good friend” to all his students. I talk to most of my students about anything that is of mutual interest outside of study. Often I take my students to the school canteen and talk over wide range of subjects. Those discussions are full of fun and most of the time I learn a lot from interacting with these Generation Y kids. I was warned by lot of professors including my father that it is not a good idea to interact a lot with students outside class as they may take advantage of you. But my experience in the last five months defies that logic and I have observed that more I interact with the students outside the class; the better I am able to communicate with them in the class. 
The main challenge I face in class – I believe this is true in most colleges in India – there are lots of students who do engineering because their parents want them to be engineers. They absolutely have no interest in any of the engineering. I had a student who came and frankly told me that he wants to be a writer and his parents forced him to do engineering that he has no interest in. There was another boy in the class who wants to continue his family business that has nothing to do with what he is studying and there is this student who wants to do MS from Massachusetts Institute of Technology all in one class. How you design your course to engage all of them is a big challenge that I am trying to find an answer to. 
One more thing I found out – it is tough to change age old practices that students are bound to follow. Lot of students comes to class after I start my lecture. They stand at the entrance and ask “May I come in sir”. I have told the students so many times that they are free to come in and go out any time you want in the class while I am giving the lecture and you don’t have to tell me. Even after telling them so many times every one repeats the same. No way could I make that change. 
Sad moment – some students never understand the basic concepts and math associated with it however much you explain to them. Their aptitude for engineering is a big zero but in another few years they will also become an engineer. 
Happy moment – “Sir, You are taking so much effort to teach us in a very practical way and we will do our best to score good marks”. Those are the moments you feel happy for the efforts you take to teach. 
Overall I had a great experience in my first semester as a teacher and look forward to the next. I enjoyed teaching but it is for the students who were in the class to make the judgment how good a teacher I was for them. I know majority of my students will be reading this and like to know your feedback about me as your teacher this semester.
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Blogger Prem said...

Bravo Brijesh!

I love teaching and had so much fun as a teaching assistant during my Master's.

Have you thought about project based learning for your students? Engaging them in actually solving a social problem using your syllabus?

You already may have, but if you haven't, give it a try, it will encourage the non-motivated students to understand a tad more than in-class teaching.

When I come back to India, I would love to experiment this idea on my classes, if I teach!

Good job and good luck.

November 30, 2010 2:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hats of to you Nair..
I hope professors like you can make a dent in the old fashion education system.
I really hope parents allow their children to make a decision on what they wish to do with their future instead of being forced into it.. but i think for a start you are going in the correct direction.

Again congratulations and hope the your success and that of your students will create a huge wave in the system.

November 30, 2010 3:03 PM  
Blogger Jijo V.G said...

Inspiring . IU thing a good guide to all those who teach.

November 30, 2010 3:35 PM  
Blogger kool said...

Hey Brijesh - Congrats! I am sure you & Deepa will be the BEST!! Good Luck!!!

November 30, 2010 7:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Your approach towards students sounds very impressive. I am sure you are doing a great job out there as a teacher. ALL THE BEST.


December 01, 2010 1:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you r among the best faculties in our school(smbs)
thanks 4 all ur guidance and those never forgetting classes....love u sir
on behalf of all the students

student of ur first batch

December 01, 2010 9:01 PM  
Blogger scorpiogenius said...

Lot of students comes to class after I start my lecture. They stand at the entrance and ask “May I come in sir”. I have told the students so many times that they are free to come in and go out any time you want in the class while I am giving the lecture and you don’t have to tell me. Even after telling them so many times every one repeats the same. No way could I make that change.

Brijesh bhai,

I have a difference of opinion here. We shouldn't try to change this character of our culture, where teachers are held in regard to our parents and even to God himself.

There are aspects of our education which mustn't change at all. One is this student- teacher relationship. Though I personally believe in teachers being good friends of students, there must be this attribute cultured in them where they won't take the classrooms for granted. It is very easy for them being complacent and arrogant if we allow such traits to get ingrained in them. I've been lenient in many ways during my stint as a lecturer but it in our current system it is always better to hold on to our traditional ways, in the best interest of the students.

Our system needs a radical change, no doubt, but we cannot stoop down to the level where students misbehave to the teachers and get away with it, like in the US.

December 02, 2010 2:22 AM  
Blogger Brijesh Nair said...

Do you think that just making that change I mentioned teachers won’t be held in regard? Yes I totally agree with you that our system needs a radical change.

December 04, 2010 6:38 PM  
Blogger Andrew Brice said...

I'm glad things are going so well for you. What classes are you teaching?

I hear India has a dearth of CEE's as many young students with the requisite math aptitude opt for compsci paths, instead. Do you find there are enrollment issues for your program?

December 05, 2010 8:39 PM  
Blogger Brijesh Nair said...

With 65 students in the undergrad class it is tough. For Masters I am always for project based learning.

Yes the enrollment is less compared to other branches. see this article in New York Times - http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/26/business/global/26engineer.html?_r=2&hp

Prem, Jijo, Mani, Kool

December 07, 2010 7:32 PM  

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