The noble profession
THE lack of qualified teachers is not an issue unique to Malaysia; this shortage is experienced across the world.
Many schools have had to look at hiring degree holders with no teaching experience or educational qualifications.
The net is being cast far and wide to recruit a new generation of teachers to cope with the increasing number of students.
Loo Chuan Kian, senior assistant of the secondary division at elc International School, says, “We need to find teachers with good subject knowledge. This matters not only because at the top of the ability range, you need to be able to stretch pupils, but also because teachers with good knowledge tend to make lessons for younger children more interesting.”
Subject knowledge is a prerequisite for any discipline of teaching, but that alone is not enough.
Sheela Raghu, principal at elc, says, “Sound subject knowledge can only go so far. A teacher has to have the tools for delivering a subject. For that, she needs to have an awareness of the methodology of teaching and learning.”
Nithiya Kala, head of languages and literature, adds that learning is now “more student- centred and activity- based rather than being didactic- based.”
Essentially, teachers need to have the tools to engage students and get them to take charge of their own learning process.
“The main challenge nowadays is to be able to keep students motivated and focused,” says head of the mathematics department Catryana Nellan.
This requires a significant amount of skill on the part of the teacher. While candidates with sound subject knowledge but without teaching qualifications can be appointed, it is essential that they immediately undertake training that will supply them the skills required to be a successful teacher.
Ideally, candidates would be appointed as trainees and pursue at least a diploma that includes the psychology and pedagogy of education.
Founder of elc International School Margaret Kaloo also stresses the need for every teacher to display some measure of compassion, empathy and mindfulness.
Teachers need to be able to understand the emotions of others ( empathy), have a desire to help others ( compassion) and be aware of the present situation they are in ( mindfulness).
With these values, teachers can utilise their skills and knowledge and become outstanding. When you have an outstanding teacher, there is no doubt that the work being done is truly noble.
What can be done to get more young people today to be interested in teaching?
Head of elc’s secondary division Chong Soh Nee says, “There is no one way to make teaching a desirable option for the young people of today, but by having great role models while they are at school, we can inspire them to want to teach in the future.”
Many younger teachers will talk about increasing pay scales to entice a new generation to the profession, but when you talk to seasoned educationalists about why they remain teachers, wages are seldom mentioned.
The single greatest reason cited time and again is the intrinsic reward of seeing students succeed, particularly the difficult ones.
Today, we need to focus on creating a new generation of inspired teachers with the desire to shape the next generation.
For more information about a career in teaching, e- mail recruitment@ elc. edu. my.