Incidental learning!
“ I had a very bad day today !”- on hearing this from her 14 year old son, the mother was concerned.

“What made your day so bad ?”

“Mom, if the teacher is not clear in her teaching, is it a sign of disrespect to ask for clarity?” the son asked, evidently puzzled.

“Tell me exactly what happened”

“ We did not understand a concept that my teacher was teaching today in class, so my friend Anika raised several questions to get clarity. But, my teacher got angry and walked out of the class.  Moreover, she even reported us to the Principal saying that my class is unruly. As a consequence, we have to learn this concept on our own and come prepared for a test.”

The above conversation is commonly heard from many houses with school- going children.
               Maintaining the teacher student relationship is still a challenging task.Effective communication plays a major role in this regard.While teaching and learning, communication is inevitable. Many a times, both teachers and the students wish to maintain a positive relationship with each other. But, unfortunately, knowingly or unknowingly, there is almost always a gap rendered by miscommunication.
               Though one can't rule out purposeful questioning of some students for the sake of whiling away class hours or distracting the teacher for sheer amusement, taking from this incident, when students are encouraged to be inquisitive, why do some teachers get defensive or mistake it to be a sign of disrespect when the students' perspective on the subject matter varies? The simple reasons could be lack of preparation for the class from the teachers’ side, or the teacher might not want the flow interrupted while teaching. Whatever the case might be, walking out of the class gives does not lead to any productive solutions but merely reflects the inefficiency of the teacher’s classroom management.The state ofguilt or confusion as to why thequestion cannot be answered, does not create an environment of respect expected by teacher.
               This inefficientcommunication arises specifically due to incongruence inunderstanding the intent of the other person.  Some students are used to certain manner of communication, such as their tone and body language, that may perceived by the teachers to be rude. The teacher has to acknowledge this discrepancy, and make the students understand that being inquisitive is encouraged, as long as it doesn't disrupt the class or others.
               An integrated effort in learning the skill of communication is much needed at the earliest stage in a student’s life. Guiding and correcting then and there is not a waste of time during class hours. In fact, this is where incidental learning happens.A teacher’s smile or a frown matters a lot to a student to turn his /her day into a sweet or bitter one. Action speaks louder than words!

                                                             Jayanthi Ramesh
                                 Teacher Trainer- Cambridge International Examination