The very appearance of teacher X makes students give respect. Though X is strict, children approach her more often than other teachers and also like her classes. Whereas students pay little heed to teacher Y who bangs on the desk seeking silence or teaches nothing substantial. What are the attributes that students value most in a teacher in the classroom? Besides, patience, knowledge and inter-personal skills, today’s children are particular that all of them get to actively participate in the learning process.

A class X student of Vels Vidyashram Gebin Maxey says a teacher who sends her/his favourite set of students for every competition draws the wrath of the class. “Teachers should know every student in class. While correcting assignments, they should point to mistakes we make and help us rectify them.”

Classroom management skill is an important trait most students value in their teacher. While some teachers command authority and respect through their posture, some understand the psychology of the diverse group of students in a classroom to win them all. Classroom management is important for every teacher as it determines how well students pay attention, appreciate a subject or like the school environment. There are many characteristics of a well-managed classroom, many which cannot be taught but should be enhanced through experience, say experts.

Seetha Ramakrishnan, retired principal and executive director of SGS Kothari Academy for Women, says one of the biggest challenges for a teacher is to get the attention of the entire class. “Bring something visual while teaching a topic. If you are teaching about the heart, bring a model to the classroom and make children touch it,” says Ms. Ramakrishnan, adding that very little can be achieved through the chalk-and-talk method of teaching today.

“For a teacher to win the attention of her students, it is very important that she has masters the subject before taking class. Textbooks should be used just as reference material,” says M. Christiana, teacher, MCC Higher Secondary School. “Patience, consistency, knowledge and constant updating of skills are attribute a teacher should have,” she adds.

However, with the high student teacher ratio in most schools teachers say classroom management is likely to continue being a challenge. The Right to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) calls for a fixed student teacher ratio of 1:30, but how prepared are our schools? A senior official says that much of the schools’ preparedness for this could be seen once the final rules of the implementation of RTE Act are notified by the State Government.