“Matru Devo Bhava! Pitru Devo Bhava! Acharya Devo Bhava!” -Taittiriya Upanishad

Indian culture acknowledges the importance and status of a teacher i.e., Guru and parents and puts them on the same pedestal. The importance and recognition given to a Guru are sometimes even more than that of the parents, according to the various instances from manuscripts and Holy Scriptures like Ramayana and Mahabharata. Religious scriptures depict a way of life which is relevant up to this date.

Knowing the client or customer in every business is very crucial. Each and every business must know its customers’ credentials through a formal process known as Know Your Customer (KYC). Similarly, every educator, teacher or professor at different levels of the hierarchy must know its raison d'être through the process Know Your Students (KYS). This is essential in any reputed educational institution whether public or private which believes in the ideology of “Students’ First” and more crucial in an educational institution where the educational provision is non-subsidized, a place where students are aware of their rights and also the responsibilities of the educational institutions.

The teacher should know everything about the learner, his/her primary details like name of the student, date of birth, occupation of students’ parents, annual income, his/her interest, hobbies, likes and dislikes, whether the student has any serious medical condition or not. Being a teacher is a matter of great pride but at the same time a huge responsibility too. When working professionals commit a fault, it has cost repercussions for some time or some people but a teacher can’t allow faults to creep into his/her duty. If he/she does, its repercussions are felt over generations. The teacher must fulfil all his/her duties very sensitively, sincerely, diligently and honestly. The teacher must know about 5‘W’s of the student like What, Why, Where, When, How, and by Whom etc.

What: What is the name of the student? What is the socio-economic and educational status of the student and his/her family etc.? The teacher is expected to know any of the student’s personal or professional woes, requirements and aspirations.

Why: Why the student is showing interest in some particular activities or events? Why does he/she prefer something over the others? If he/she is behaving in a particular way, what could be the possible reason behind it? Is there anything that the student worries about, such as family or friends etc.?

Where: Where do students come from, to attend school classes? Where does he/she go after school? Where does he/she engage in physical activities? If the student is helping parents in running the household, where does he/she work?

When: Constructing a feasible timetable for the students is also important for both teacher and student. He/ She should know about the schedule of the classes as in, When he/she is doing studies, when he/she is playing, when he/she is helping his/her parents in their household activities or business?

How: How does the student commute to school and return back home? How he/she is learning?, How he/she is behaving in the classroom, library, playground and other places, with different people in the school?

By Whom: Who is the guardian of the student? Who takes care of him at home or hostel? Who is providing him or her basic needs, required to grow and develop as a holistic person and a great human being?

Strategies to Know Your Student

A good and sensitive teacher would easily be able to understand their students. There can’t be given any formulae to enable the teacher to know their students. It varies from one situation to another, be it student, teacher, class or respective discipline of courses. However, for the sake of discussion, some important points can be mentioned for the benefit of new teachers who aspire to enter into the profession after completing their teacher education at a reputed university known for B.A. B.Ed. courses.

Observation

Observation is a very important technique which can help a teacher to understand his/her students. It is taught in any good B.A. B.Ed. university offering a pre-service teacher education programme. However, mere knowledge of the observation is not sufficient. Prior knowledge of the observation technique can be mastered when the teacher/herself conducts observation of students in the actual school setting.

Anonymous experience

There are some distressing experiences or incidents of the students which are painful for them and they do not feel comfortable sharing with anyone. However, that incidence can cause a lot of mental health issues (predominantly, stress and anxiety). On the brighter side, they feel comfortable sharing it anonymously. Teachers can organise such anonymous experiences by sharing handouts that can bring stress out of students’ minds and can help in rejuvenation. Teachers can provide the students, with a simple sheet of paper and colour to the students for this purpose. They can write about their experience without mentioning their names and other personal details. After 20-30 minutes time, the teacher would collect the same and discuss them one by one, asking the opinion of the students regarding each particular incidence or feeling like, “What should have been the response of the parents, friends, relatives, teachers or society members in some particular distressing situation through which the students underwent?

An informal chat with the students

Informal chats with the students by the teacher go a long way in knowing and understanding the students. In the formal setting, students feel hesitant to share anything personal with the teachers. Students do not want other fellow mates to get to know about the incident or the painful experience because informal settings, the time allotted is limited and there is no time to talk about personal issues and challenges.

Reflection on the activities

Any activity organised by the teacher without post-activity discussion is a complete wastage of time and energy and would have only minimal contribution to the learning of the students. However, if observations or reflection of the students related to the activity or event is asked, it will help in bringing an effective learning outcome for the entire class of students.

Apeejay Stya University (ASU) is a globally acclaimed academic institution that provides many prospects for creative teaching-learning, innovation, and research across disciplines. It seeks to reform society via value-based education, man-making, and nation-building. ASU gives students a solid foundation in leadership and professional abilities. It prepares learners to face the complexities of the newly liberalised international economy.

The Apeejay Stya Education Foundation founded ASU in the northern Indian state of Haryana. The University Grants Commission (UGC) recognises ASU. ASU, located on the Sohna-Palwal Road in the Gurugram region of Haryana, provides a wide range of innovative graduate, postgraduate, and doctorate programmes in a variety of subjects that are based on the best education methods of some of the world’s greatest universities. These are significantly aided by the current Apeejay Stya institutions of higher learning strong industry-academia links in all are as provided by the University.

-Dr. Vijay Kumar (Associate Professor, Apeejay Stya University, Gurugram)

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