A multifaceted personality

Sundaram S

Sundaram I started working in schools after a career spanning 17 years as an engineer and manager. It took me a lot of time to get over the impulses born out of my background of quantification and control.

One of my earliest initiatives as a principal was to work on a framework for teacher assessment. As my understanding of issues involved in school education deepened, this framework went through several modifications. I slowly realized that an ideal teacher needed to play more than 25 different roles, all important to varying degrees. Each of these roles also needed a lot of ground-level observations to be meaningful and fair.

The advice I received from my managements and fellow principals was that 25 parameters were too many, too time consuming and should ideally be reduced to 10. But 10 parameters, though administratively convenient, are too few to do justice to the work of a teacher.

Most principals instinctively realize the almost impossible task of a fair and just evaluation of a teacher’s work. Hence either it is not done formally at all or done in a totally non-transparent manner. It is used more for punitive reasons than for teacher development.

But with the increasing commercialization of school education many newspapers and magazines are getting into the lucrative business of ranking schools. It is a pity that all these rankings are done purely on unauthenticated data and perceptions without a single visit to a school or class observation. Most parents seem to like the idea. Unfortunately, many principals have also started playing this “game” since it gives them “publicity” and managements like it. Obviously for the organization doing these “surveys” it is good money.

Hence I thought I should share the multiple roles that a teacher has to play on a day-to-day basis so that parents and managements can appreciate the true worth of a teacher.

Subject expert: Understand the concepts, skills and information content in the subject. Understand the continuity in the above from the lower classes to the higher classes. Understand the relationship of the subject with other subjects and with life outside school.

Sundaram started his school career, lasting 24 years, with the Rishi Valley School. He has worked as a Principal, Teacher Trainer and Educational Consultant in several schools in India. His areas of interest are primary mathematics, school leadership, and quality in education. He conducts workshops for teachers of primary and middle School on the theme of “Understanding Primary Math for Effective Teaching”. He can be reached at sundaram48@yahoo.com.

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