Changing Role of Teachers in the 21st century

This article focuses on the changing role of a teacher since last twenty years and the way the responsibilities have multiplied with its impact on the teaching-learning and their mental health.

I have been working as a teacher since 1999 and I am a personal witness to the way things have changed specially in the way the performance of a teacher is assessed round the year. In the initial years of my service as a teacher, it was only the Principal to whom I had to report. Only three things Syllabus (Planning and Execution), Classroom Teaching – Learning and Assessment (performance of students), were of paramount importance. Teacher Training and Development is something which I rarely heard and had. Things were very clear, pin-pointed and every teacher knew the focus areas.

In the early years of the 21 st century, things have started changing gradually. Teachers started to use technology in their Teaching-Learning Process, Assessments etc. Teacher Empowerment through periodic training gained nationwide significance. A few schools even started sponsoring their teachers for trainings happening in other cities and countries. Schools have started communicating with their parents using technology (instead of the old method of issuing circulars). As things changed the Principal’s role became more complex and it is no exaggeration if I say that today’s Principals have very less time to know what’s happening in academics. In that case, who looks after the Academics? Normally it is the Academic Coordinators/Head Mistress along with the Subject Heads. Most of the teachers today do not have much access to the Principal/Vice Principal. They only report to the Academic Coordinator/Head Mistress who reviews their performance from time to time. These Academic Coordinators/HMs have a huge list of parameters based on which they assess the performance of a Teacher. The point here is the amount of checks imposed on a teacher which I feel in some way or the other have diluted the essence of teaching-learning process. Why? It is because of the amount of responsibilities which a teacher is expected to fulfill and my salute to all the teachers who do it without saying ‘No’. However, every teacher knows how much these additional responsibilities interfere with their primary role as a teacher. Some of these responsibilities include:

Curriculum and Lesson Planning: It is a continuous process and most of the teachers spend sleepless nights to meet the deadlines.

Bulletin Boards: Every teacher is made responsible for a few boards in the school. Schools have even started rating the display made by the teacher on the bulletin boards. Even though schools provide the requisite material still it is a burden (though it is expected to be taken as pleasure) for the teacher to brainstorm, prepare and display ideas on the board in an aesthetic manner. Teachers hardly get time to work in this area with schools expecting the teacher to change the board once in every month.

Cashier’s role: In today’s schools, every teacher is responsible to collect money from students for some reason – fee for Olympiads, Spell Bee etc. Amidst the clutter which teachers already have on their tables, they need to safeguard this amount, loss of which would be a penalty for the poor teacher who is paid a meagre amount for the invaluable service rendered towards the cause of education.

Note Book Correction: A small overlook from a teacher while correcting the Note Books of students is considered as a criminal offence. Parents start bringing the matter to the notice of the management trying to make the life of the teacher miserable. If parents can make out what was wrongly written by their wards, then why cannot they themselves rectify the error and educate the child. Why do they go to the extent of disrespecting the teachers in the eyes of their wards?

Houses & Clubs: Every teacher is expected to play major role as a member of the House or Club in the school. Since schools have taken the onus of building the overall personality of every child, opportunities would be created for the child to perform and excel. This wouldn’t be possible without the contribution of teachers. Needless to mention about the contribution of teachers to the school assembly which is an age-old tradition. However even in this area, schools have made things more complicated and made it a competitive affair.

Lunch Ground Duties: Even a daily wage labourer in India gets an hour break for lunch which is not the case with teachers of today. They must be present for the lunch duties as well as the ground duty monitoring students while they play on the ground. Absence of teacher from these duties would inadvertently affect their appraisal.

Examination Duties: Preparation of examination question papers, invigilation duties, evaluation of answer scripts, preparing results, conducting Parent Teacher Meetings etc is a cyclic process which happens three to four times round the year. Failure on a teacher’s part in discharging the duties responsibly again affects the appraisal.

Bus Duties: It is expected that teachers should be responsible in monitoring the student’s behaviour even while in the bus. Any lapse in this area would be considered as an act of negligence by the teacher.

School Events: Needless to mention about the amount of time and energy which teachers put in at the cost of their teaching time to make the school events a grand success.

Campaigning: A few schools do not exempt teachers even from the campaigning duties. Every teacher would be given admission target to be met before the academic session begins. In case of failure to meet to target, the teacher is forced to forego the summer vacation or the salary for the month.

Teacher Training and Development: Every teacher must be a continuous learner to keep abreast with the latest trends in the domain of education. With this point in view, schools organize mandatory training workshops for teachers specially during the vacation period.

Study Hours and/or Remedial Classes: This is an added responsibility for a teacher to spend extra hours with students to help them perform to their optimum.

The list is endless. Educators who are serious about improving the standards of education must give answer to the following questions.

What is the primary role of a teacher in the school?

Are we genuinely caring for the physical and mental health of the teachers of our nation?

Are teachers of today able to give their best to the students?

Are we really making them do tasks which add value to education?




kankarnharendrabio's picture

truly said . really educationist must think about it seriously.

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