When teachers get schooled

Inspiring minds: Faizul, who has been an educator for 23 years, teaching a class in George Town.

GEORGE TOWN: Students and teachers in a private school here are going to reverse their roles for Teachers Day today.The teachers will dress as students, the students as teachers, and will be teaching the teachers for an hour.

“That’s how we are celebrating Teachers Day here,” smiled private school teacher Faizul Nizam Zul Halim, 46, who teaches science and mathematics.

He said the students will experience the challenges of teaching while the teachers will get to see the classroom from the students’ point of view.

“Our role reversal includes appearance and behaviour, too. So we teachers will step down and let our students guide us,” he said, adding that light snacks will be served, with chocolates and flower bouquets on sale at the school as well.

Reflecting on his profession, Faizul Nizam, who has been teaching for 23 years, felt that the Covid-19 pandemic’s stay-home rules had taught teachers many lessons.

“Teachers had to adapt quickly to remote and hybrid learning models, mastering new technologies and finding effective ways to engage students online,” he said, adding that online platforms, educational apps and virtual labs became integral parts of his teaching strategy.

“My goal was to create a dynamic learning environment, even online.

“I wanted to ensure that my students were not just passive recipients of information but active participants in the learning process,” he said.

Faizul Nizam said even after the pandemic ended, the online skills that he had learnt during the health crisis were now incorporated into his teaching methods.

Another teacher interviewed by The Star to mark Teachers Day, Anabela Chin, 35, said the pandemic affected both students and teachers mentally.

When physical classes resumed, Chin said she observed that students behaved differently after about two years of online classes.

“My students used to be a talkative, noisy lot but when they came back, everyone was quiet and reserved,” she recalled.

Chin, who has been teaching history for the past 10 years at a secondary government school in a rural area in Kedah, said she later realised that not only were the students unused to physical interaction some had lost parents or relatives during the pandemic and they had become afraid of physically meeting people.

She then strove hard to create an empathetic classroom environment, encouraging open communication and providing emotional support for each other, something she fosters till now.

“The pandemic indeed disrupted education worldwide, but it has also opened up new opportunities for growth and innovation.

“As educators, we play a crucial role in shaping the future. By equipping students with essential skills, critical thinking abilities and a thirst for knowledge, we can empower them to be informed, responsible, and contributing members of society,” she said.

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