Friday, July 08, 2016

6 Habits of Students-Centric Teachers

Teachers may use these habits to take their "student first" mantra beyond lip service and compete for bigger market share both in school/college jobs and personal tuition market.

Over the years, I've spent a lot of time talking to different teachers about how they teach their classes.

I've noticed something interesting in these discussions: Even though there's universal agreement that teacher success is centered on finding the right strategies, many teachers use a teacher or lecture-centric approach--rather than a student's-centric approach--to operating their classes.

Over the course of almost two decades as teacher, I myself have evolved toward a more students-centered style of teaching. With a background in software engineering and business, I once assumed that most problems could be solved with enough available data and some logical thinking. But I've learned that a Spock-like, numbers-driven approach doesn't work, at least now that we're out of the stick and carrot approach era.

Here are six habits of successful and influential teachers who value students over lecture data presentations (nothing against data, of course). These habits have gone a long way toward helping me build and operate several successful teaching plans.

  1. Student-centric teachers set a few clear priorities and share them with the students. The lecture-centric teacher has trouble prioritizing: If he can measure something in the lecture, he's going to try and manage it. The result is an ocean of books and metrics, with students treated like proverbial cogs in the machine, or left out of the equation altogether. The student-centric teacher, on the other hand, starts with a clearly articulated vision, then selects a few key priorities and metrics for the class to focus on. S/he's able to tell a story about what they are trying to do--one that resonates with students across the classes.
  2. Student-centric teachers make sure everyone knows the "why" behind their lecture. As someone once has argued, a sense of purpose is one of the keys to motivating teachers. Unfortunately, data-centric teachers often fail to give this to their students. Students-centric leaders, however, give students greater purpose by tying individual work to the broader priorities of the subject. Your requirement doesn't have to be preserving the mangroves or saving pandas; simply cascading topic priorities down into goals for students helps them see the context and purpose of their daily work.
  3. Student-centric teachers don't just look at data--they ask the right questions. Data-centric teachers tend to separate the numbers from the pupils doing the work. They're more likely to pore over books than actually talk to students. The students-centric approach, on the other hand, involves asking individuals for their unique insights and perspectives. What can student tell you about the future? What issues do they see from their vantage point? What do they think we can do to keep things on track?
  4. Student-centric teachers make students' interest their responsibility. Nowadays schools and their HR departments always on the lookout for teachers who can bring significant value to the organization, and schools principals and higher ups actively participates in interviews for nearly every hire. They won't turn down a game-changing hire just because there's not an empty box on the org chart--and s/he acknowledges that hiring is a strategic priority, not an admin function. Remember, they can do otherwise too.
  5. Student-centric teachers know who their key students are? Can you name the top five performers in your class? A student-centric teacher always can. He understands that he must stay abreast of the students who create the most value for the class. He continually invests in their development and works to align their interests with the subject's and to some extent school's.
  6. Student-centric teachers understand the importance of good school heads. They know that good school management is a rare and underappreciated art. They also know about the widespread disengagement one uninformed principal can cause. Student-centric teachers reach out school heads and invest in overcoming communication gap.

In these times, teachers who can influence, motivate, and bring students together are the ones who outpace their competitors and embark on more job & work opportunities. Mastering these habits is a great place to start.

By: Zafar Ali Khan

Zafar Ali Khan [ZAK] is an O/A level Computer Science Pakistani educator, entrepreneur, and former programmer. He supports a free online education platform to impart O and A level resources. His resources include notes, video lectures, online discussion groups, an artificial intelligence based virtual assistant, upcoming Android and IOS based apps and a website.

ZAK is teaching a wide spectrum of learners, mainly focusing on Computer Science 2210 and 9608. ZAK has a stellar online following, which is evident from his 50,000+ online followers. These exist wherever CIE is offered.

ZAK has taught in many auspicious and renowned institutes throughout Karachi for the past 18 years. His teaching methods coupled with his most innovative digital resources helped students achieve outstanding grades including distinctions in CIE. ZAK is an associate of The Mauritius Institute of Education (MIE), which is a Parastatal body, working under the aegis of the Ministry of Education and Human Resources of Mauritius. ZAK's yearly seminars and one-day marathon classes are very famous among the learners.

Before opting for a full-time teaching profession, ZAK has had the privilege of being associated with renowned public and corporate organizations. He has worked in a diversified array of the large local and international corporations both as a part of them and as a consultant. This wide array of organizations commence from Pakistan Army Engineering Corps to the Galileo Emirates, Dubai and The Acutus NY, USA. Industries that ZAK has experienced with, before opting for a teaching profession, are engineering, pharmaceutical, digital video R&D and customer reservation system (CRS). His expertise as application developer, IT administrator, project manager and IT teacher in a wide variety of business applications has always helped him in innovating teaching styles and resources.

ZAK can be reached at: