Thursday, April 18, 2024

The Error of Terror Teachers

by the Weekly Sillimanian | December 5, 2021

Since the birth of the term, “terror teachers” have been infamous for their unconventional ways of teaching — and every student knows what they are like. They are often said to be stern, callous, and unyielding with an authoritarian fist that rules the four walls of the classroom. They are not easy to forget either. Back in their time, your parents or guardians might have also been under them.

Still, given the drastic changes involving the Philippine education system in the last decade, it is easy to put this label of “terror teacher” on educators with whom we do not see eye to eye, which gets us to think about the factors that lead students to give them this brand in the first place. 

Besides the implementation of the K to 12 program, one big change both our country and the world have had to carry out in the last year is online distance learning (ODL) and this has arguably made it difficult for learners to thrive. Because of slow internet connection, missing both deadlines and classes is inevitable for a lot of students, especially those who reside in remote areas. 

To put it bluntly, a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey conducted last November 2020 found out that only 39% of Filipino families in the country with members studying through ODL have a “strong” internet connection. The rest have to endure intermittent connections and find alternatives, often costly (as to the case of wireless data), to turn in their outputs or attend classes. Some instructors allegedly do not consider these setbacks, telling their students to “find other ways” to catch up with their tasks.

Additionally, contacting teachers regarding important concerns like grades and missed classes is almost impossible as a decent percentage of them do not even respond to queries. Some of them also give out an intimidating demeanor that makes it tough to approach them, inhibiting the already poor line of communication. And, reportedly, some take pride in the fact that their classes have low passing rates too.

Why is this the case? Why do uncertainty and fear have to be the motivation for students to work harder? Multiple studies have shown that this method is counterproductive. According to Da Luz of Bridgewater State University, rapport and personal connection between teachers and students raise “intrinsic motivation to learn”. When asked if they feel motivated by teachers who care about their students, 91% of respondents who were high school freshmen agreed. 73% of them also said that “the relationship they maintain with their teachers is important to classroom interaction”.  From this, we can say that healthy relationships between students and learners indeed contribute to better learning.

Some of you may be thinking that students complain too much and that online classes are both the responsibility of the instructor and learner which is true. However, as people of authority in both the virtual and physical classroom, teachers are obligated to lead the way for their students and encourage them to have a genuine interest in their studies.

A comprehensive orientation on the first day of classes should include information on truancy and missed deadlines. This also includes instructions for the submission of excuse letters along with the teacher’s contact details should the students need to communicate with them beyond class hours.

Feedback is also crucial. When asked about grades, the teacher ought to respond so that the students can reevaluate themselves and learn what to improve for future classes. 

Remember, teachers are here not to merely provide information, but also to teach us how to apply such knowledge in real-life scenarios so we can be effective professionals in our future work fields.

So, teachers, why brag about your classes having low passing rates? Remember, your students failing would not just mean their negligence, but it could indicate yours too.

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