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How to establish a Teacher Presence

As we marked International Day of Education on 24 January, I took some time to reflect on my experience as a  teacher. I have gained many valuable skills in my role however, there are a few skills that I have acquired that I personally feel have had a positive impact on my role as an educator in the classroom – one of them being the ability to establish “Teacher Presence”.


Above: Watch as some of our educators reflect on their purpose and roles they play as educators.



Collaborative Culture = Teacher Presence


Teacher presence refers to the actions and contributions of the teacher in the classroom that students may intuitively respond to. How teachers generally manage their actions in the classroom ranging from tonal variation, body language, managing emotions and interactions with learners can either determine whether the environment of learning is good and safe enough for effective and maximum benefits of the learners or otherwise.


Creating a safe space for engagement


Teachers may unknowingly create unsafe learning spaces especially when their presence is not felt by the learners. In such spaces, the lessons may end up lacking deep engagements which in turn may create a very tense environment for both the teachers and the learners.

This, in turn, may lead to boring lessons that may force some learners to completely withdraw. The teacher, on the other hand, will find it hard to drive the lesson to the intended objectives. Such a situation may be very frustrating especially to new teachers who could be entering the profession for the first time. 


Build genuine authentic relationships with students


This statement has been confused by many people in many quarters. To establish teacher presence does not mean stamping your authority and running your lessons where the teacher is the law and every word from him or her should be taken in religiously without questioning.

Instead, it points to those things that teachers do in class that help them connect with their learners in a more special way without creating a feeling of fear or intimidation while at the same time achieving the intended objectives.


How can you build your teacher presence?


With training and practice, this situation can easily be averted. Teachers need to spend more time ensuring that their presence is felt by the learners at all times both in and out of the classroom. For new teachers here are a few tips to help you take full command of your classes:

  1. Master your content: Content mastery is a powerful tool that a teacher can use to steer his or her class to desired outcomes. Teachers with deep mastery of content are never afraid of challenging questions or answers from their learners. 
  2. Prepare for lessons adequately:  A teacher who shows up for the lessons with all the materials will most definitely have a smooth lesson that guarantees the achievement of objectives. Such teachers will manage to keep the learners fully engaged and there will be no room for wasting time or running up and down trying to find what is missing.
  3. Maintain proper body posture/language: For effective lessons, every teacher should ensure that whatever their mouths speak is not in contrast with what their bodies say. Confident teachers should at all times ensure that they maintain proper eye contact with the learners, use appropriate gestures that are not offensive or demeaning and stand in such a way that they appear confident. 
  4. Stand/move strategically in the room: The teacher should always stand in strategic positions within the room to ensure that he or she maintains eye contact with the learners. The teacher doesn’t necessarily need to stand at the front at all times but should always ensure that every time he or she moves, not a single learner should lose him or her. 
  5. Give clear instructions: How clear instructions are given in class depend on teachers’ preparation before lessons. A teacher who prepares adequately for lessons will understand how best to give instructions based on learners’ levels. 
  6. Remain firm but warm/ manage your emotions: Learners respect and love teachers who are always ready to support them regardless of circumstances. A teacher’s impact is best felt when they ensure that classroom expectations are clearly spelt out and that learners know what is expected of them at all times. As teachers enforce these expectations, they should do so with a touch of love and care just to remind the learners that they care about them. 
  7. Maintain a formal tone: A formal tone does not come off as aggressive or too stern. But instead, it comes out with a lot of respect and a touch of love and care. 

Always remember that learners learn better when teachers fully show up. Always let your presence be felt by the learners at all times. Happy International Day of Education to all my fellow educators!


Written by: Fred Ndhine (Lead Chemistry & Mathematic teacher at Nova Pioneer)


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