6 Tips on how to be a COOL TEACHER

Teaching is a profession that has been in this world for thousands of years ago. We are all educated by teachers. It is a noble job and there are Quranic verses revealed about the importance of spreading beneficial knowledge like most of the teachers are doing. The best teachers are the teachers who spread Islamic teaching and encouraging good deeds like the hadith of Prophet Muhammad  (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) who said: “The best of you is the one who learns the Qur’an and teaches it.”[1]
However, in order to be a good teacher and to make sure that Islamic knowledge can be effectively delivered to the learners, a teacher has to set different strategies to make a conducive learning experience. Nancie Atwell, the “World’s Best Teacher” who received the first “Global Teacher Prize” earlier this year (2015) doesn’t give her students tests or quizzes.[2] She has developed many strategies to develop curiosity and passion for learning among her students.
As a teacher, we should understand that there are different types of intelligence among the students. According to Howard Gardner’s theory of ‘Multiple Intelligence’, learners’ intelligence can be divided into eight [3].

1.DIFFERENT TYPE OF LEARNERS

Learners who are naturalistic intelligent learns better in a natural environment when they work with animals, plants and other living things. Otherwise, kinesthetic learners do better in an activity that requires movement like in sport and dancing. Other than those 2 intelligence mentioned, there are also ‘interpersonal’, intrapersonal, musical, visual or spatial, logical and linguistic intelligent learners. A teacher has to provide different kind of activities to suit different kinds of intelligence in the learners. For example, for a particular topic that is being taught, the teacher can do more than 1 activity like acting and drawing to make learning acceptable and easier for different learners.

2.INQUIRY-BASED LEARNING
Other than that, ‘Inquiry-based learning’ involve the active participation of learners to ensure that they understand the world in a ‘hands-on’ way [4]. It increases intellectual engagement and fosters a deep understanding of the learners. It is very popular in education. Many teachers are adopting this strategy for their learners.

3. CO-OPERATIVE LEARNING
In a classroom, we can identify the different levels of ability among the learners. By introducing a ‘Co-operative Learning’ strategy, the teacher can help learners to learn from each other, the strong learner supports the weak learner. It is a successful teaching strategy in which small teams, each with students of different levels of ability, use a variety of learning activities to improve their understanding of a concept or subject. Research has shown that this type of learning gives positive effects on student achievement. They also improve the relationship among the learners [5]. In Islam, co-operation is very much encouraged. ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Mas’ood said that Prophet Muhammad  (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There is no Prophet whom Allaah sent to any nation before me, but he had disciples and companions from among his nation who followed his path and obeyed his commands…” [6]. Other than that, Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said “The sons of Adam cannot live in this world unless they help one another in word and deed [7].

4. ENCOURAGE ACTIVE THINKING
A teacher should also develop a strategy to help learners to find answers for questions that they could not answer. By using the ‘Habits of Mind’ strategy, the learners are guided to know how to behave intelligently when they do not know the answer [8]. The 16 habits that learners guide to practice are persisting, thinking and communicating with clarity and precision, managing impulsivity, gathering data through all senses, listening with understanding and empathy, creating, imagining, innovating, thinking flexibly, responding with wonderment and awe, thinking about thinking (metacognition), taking responsible risks, striving for accuracy, finding humor, questioning and posing problems, thinking interdependently, applying past knowledge to new situations and remaining open to continuous learning. In a way, by using this strategy, a teacher is training the learners to think actively.
To make the learning experience as an active activity, a teacher should also use the ‘Constructivism’ strategy. A person who is active is truly capable of learning [9]. The theory suggests that humans construct knowledge and meaning from their experiences. Learners are expected to construct their own world in which they live [10].

5. APPROPRIATE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT

As proposed by Piaget, learners learning depending on their maturity. A teacher should provide an appropriate learning environment based on the learners developmental stage, without pressure, for example, if the teacher is teaching about seerah of prophet Muhammad  (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) to a nine-year-old learners, they can be taught in a game manners or storytelling with a lot of pictures shown to make them feel as if they are there during the time of Prophet Muhammad  (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).

person plowing soil

In conclusion, teaching requires a lot of strategies and a teacher should be able to recognize the difference among the learners to make varieties of strategies being used to cater the needs of the learners with different ability and intelligence. Teaching should be made as active and interactive as possible to enable learners to capture the knowledge delivered and retain them as maximum as possible in an exciting way.

______________________________________________________________________
[1] Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4639
[2] http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/the-worlds-best-teacher-gives-kids-choices-instead-of-tests/
[3] Pedagogy by Lea Capius page 15
[4] http://www.teachinquiry.com/index/Introduction.html
[5] http://www.teachinquiry.com/index/Introduction.html
[6] Sahih Bukhari (86)
[7] al-Tis’eeniyyah (1/125)
[8] http://www.artcostacentre.com/html/habits.htm
[9] Pedagogy by Lea Capius page 18
[10] http://www.learning-theories.com/constructivism.html
[11] http://thepeakperformancecenter.com/educational-learning/learning/principles-of-learning/learning-pyramid/

Bibliography:
1. Pedagogy by Lea Capius
2. http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/the-worlds-best-teacher-gives-kids-choices-instead-of-tests/
3. http://www.islamqa.com
4. http://www.teachinquiry.com/index/Introduction.html
5. https://islamqa.info/en/98668
6. http://www.artcostacentre.com/html/habits.htm
7. http://www.learning-theories.com/constructivism.html
8. http://thepeakperformancecenter.com/educational-learning/learning/principles-of-learning/learning-pyramid/

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