Blackboard Education

Why preparation matters

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To succeed, teachers must create a plan, well in advance

If we would answer just one question frankly, we would be well on the way to becoming good teachers. The question is: Do we prepare for our class? Choose one of the following options which mirrors your usual practice:

i. I don’t need to prepare because I am an experienced teacher.

ii. I glance at the lesson just before I enter the classroom.

iii. Yes, I prepare thoroughly for every class.

iv. I wish to prepare for my class but I don’t know how to do so.

In your answer lies the level of your success in the class.

If we have chosen answers i./ii./iv., it means we are going to class unprepared. An unprepared teacher cannot hope to win over students, no matter how senior.

Value add

Students admire and respect teachers who are well-prepared, knowledgeable and interesting. They like to attend their lectures. The opposite also is true that students ‘bunk’ the class of a casual teacher because it has no value for them. The responsibility of delivering an effective lecture in school or college, is that of the teacher. Some teachers blame students for being inattentive. The challenge lies in how to prepare in such a way that teachers win over even those habitually inattentive.

The word ‘Preparation’ means different things to different teachers. Simply put, it means (i) carefully selecting the concepts we wish to teach in a lecture; (ii) knowing why we wish to teach those concepts (i.e. the objectives); and (iii) choosing the teaching-learning strategies that we will adopt to communicate those concepts effectively. These constitute the WHAT-WHY-HOW of designing and preparing a lecture.

To succeed, we need to create a well thought out teaching-learning plan in advance. This calls for effort much before the class, and not during the class or a few minutes earlier. It may seem far-fetched, but there are teachers who read from the text in class and paraphrase it to the students. This is not teaching.

The most seasoned teachers always prepare in advance, even if they do not carry a piece of paper with them to the class. It is a gross misconception that we don’t need preparation because students know lesser than us. In that case, we should not feel agitated if students surprise us with their knowledge and reject us by not attending/disturbing our class.

Preparation means designing a lucid roadmap of communicating concepts in a systematic and lively manner. This has to be preceded by reading thoroughly on each concept until we are crystal clear about what we wish to teach. Concepts that are muddy in our heads can never be taught well nor made clear to students. Preparation means designing (i) a plan for the course, (ii) a plan for the week and (iii) one for every lesson.

The writer was Professor at IIT Bombay. She has trained over 7500 teachers in ‘Effective Teaching Skills’. vineykirpal@gmail.com

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Printable version | Dec 13, 2019 6:20:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/why-preparation-matters/article30122711.ece

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