There is no definitive guide to becoming a successful teacher since success can vary for everyone. However, whatever success may be for you, one thing always remains common: The role of Upskilling!
Who is better to talk about this than the principal of an international school? This blog is an excerpt from our conversation with Ms Varsha Agarwal Rodewald, School Principal at Ascend International School, Maharashtra, India. With over 20 years of rich experience in the ‘Education Industry’, she shares her valuable insights and experience.
Before we proceed, let us share a bit more about her:
Ms Varsha Agarwal Rodewald is a solution-centric professional with a deep driven approach to teaching. She has previously worked as a Programme Coordinator, Translator, Trainer, and Teacher. Today, she manages an entire co-educational international Pre-K to 12th-grade day school. Her passion for education is truly an inspiration for young and budding teachers.
In this blog, we share 5 principles from Principal Ms Varsha that teachers should abide by. She discusses how teachers can become successful educators by incorporating a culture of professional development and learning from their mistakes.
Here are the 5 principles shared by her:
1. Have a Mentor
Having an experienced mentor by our side can come in handy–especially as a young teacher. Because they’ve already gone through what we’re going through, they’re able to connect with our experiences and guide us through the path.
Ms Agarwal confided her own challenges with her founding principal at her former training centre and sought her advice time and again. She said,
“I had a lot of guidance from our founding principal at the centre. She was always there to listen to me & guide me. So, I think just having a mentor is very important. When you have somebody who has been in the field– then you know where you can take your questions & your challenges and just be able to talk about how you're feeling.”
2. It’s OKAY to Make Mistakes
Truth be told, everyone makes mistakes. But, what sets us apart is how we learn through our mistakes— even if it's the little ones.
To become a successful teacher, Ms Varsha says, one has to make mistakes. She candidly explains,
“It’s okay to make mistakes because it's impossible to be a successful teacher without having made your mistakes. Just have faith that okay if I'm going to go wrong– that's okay.”
3. Successful Teaching is all about Upskilling
Well, we didn’t say it! It’s coming from a principal with over 20 years of experience who is still adamant about learning, upskilling and growing. Training to be an IB Evaluation leader, she shares her journey as,
“I'm just training to be an evaluation leader for the middle school and the diploma programme. So, for a teacher, there are these opportunities available that don't just give you all these additional responsibilities in the whole space but also make you a better educator. Everything that you do after school— all the extra reading & all the extra upskilling— this is what teaching and, of course, successful teaching is all about.”
4. Students Want to see you as a Friend
Children today don’t view teachers as someone sacred. Rather than seeing a teacher as a spiritual leader, they now seek teachers with whom they can confide and share their deepest fears and secrets, like a friend.
It's time we reciprocate and become friends with our students.
“The students of today–they see you as a partner. I don't think they see you as a superior. Imagine that burden of being a guru close to being a god— I mean you don't want to keep that weight with you in the class.”
5. Help Each Student Find Their ‘Element’
We should not take it personally when a student underperforms even after a successful lesson. The most important thing is to provide each student with their own time and space to learn and understand concepts. Or as Ms Varsha explains,
“You cannot teach the same thing to every individual in your class— it doesn't work like that. I always tell my teachers that you can only provide that learning experience but the understanding that the student takes away is right there in their prerogative. You cannot dictate that. You can't say that all 20 students in my class are going to go away with the same understanding. We wouldn't want that.”
During our conversation with Ms Agarwal, one thing that stood out was that you learn something new every single day as a teacher.
As important it is to learn for our students and to be able to teach them better, we also need to learn for our own career growth. If we don't do it, there is a high probability that we’ll fall out.
Before we go, let’s quickly summarise the 5 pointers shared by Ms Varsha:
Have a Mentor
It’s OKAY to make mistakes
Successful Teaching is all about Upskilling
Students want to see you as a Friend
Help each student find their ‘element’
If you had a great time reading this blog, you’d love the entire conversation with Ms Varsha Agarwal Rodewald in the below YouTube Video:
Simran is a writer here at Suraasa and has formerly worked as a Teacher. She is passionate about learning and making a difference through her words.