How will AI change what it means to be a School Teacher?

With everything e-transforming with Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning and customisation, learn and know how it will impact educators and student learning.

The world watched in shock and awe last week as GPT 3 wrote poems, created code from scratch, and predicted how famous politicians would respond. It made me wonder: if Artificial Intelligence (AI) can do everything, what will the rest of us do? And what does this mean for schools? When the current batch of primary students graduates, what will they do when they step out into the world? What kind of world will they inhabit, what kind of jobs will they do, what kind of people will they need to be? And what does that mean for teachers?  

Researchers, project managers, artists, storytellers, influencers—teachers are ALL of these! In addition, courtesy COVID, we are now techies too! However, let’s take a break and reshift our focus to us as individuals. Let us revisit the journey of where we started, what we aspired to be, and if we are there yet. If we are, what’s our next peak to climb? If we aren’t, are we changing with the times?

What is your value-addition in a learner’s life?

We, as educators, are arguably few of the most influential factors for our students, especially growing up. Learners not only pick things up academically, but observe our behaviours and responses closely; The Students, as Theodore & Nancy Sizer say, are always watching. 

A 2014 study by Harvard economists tracked a million students over 20 years from grade 4 to adulthood to verify the impact of teacher value-add on student outcomes. The value-added (VA) approach is basically an evaluation of students’ improvement in test scores throughout a year with adjustments of factors that are outside the teacher’s control. The study’s findings show how students assigned to higher VA teachers are more likely to attend college, earn higher salaries, and live in better areas. In ROI terms, the study states that a VA teacher would generate lifetime earnings gains worth more than $250,000 for the average classroom.


As evidenced above, your value-add matters! Our learners today tend to outsmart us in a lot of ways: technology, social media, depth in a concept, and follow-up questions. Are we ready for them? Now that we know our purpose of individual and professional growth, let’s see how we can become mentors and coaches of impact!

Before diving into the HOW, revisit these tricks to make time for it!:

Why do you teach?

During the placement season, at my undergraduate education in Economics, I interviewed for the Teach for India fellowship. And because I chose to digress from the customary path of economics to a corporate sector job and handpicked teaching, it seemed bizarre to a lot! That’s when I wrote this excerpt:   

“We sit at the top of the corporate ladder, the steps of which were somewhere, somehow trodden by a teacher that you adored and were inspired by; the teacher you recall with a nostalgic smile reading this. 

The step of passion when she applauded our extra efforts of using props in a recitation; the step of confidence when it wasn’t about winning the race but the boost of her running with us; the value of integrity when we disliked the ‘lecture’ of cheating and writing an apology letter; the art of communication when we changed seats every week to make new friends and finally the spirit of independence from the day she held our tiny hand on the first day of school to the day she held her head high for being our teacher…

Oh and these five qualities are amongst the top for successful people that we strive to become! When I googled about this, a strange phenomenon of popping synonyms broke on my screen, synonyms of teaching like mentoring and coaching which have moved on to become trending career choices for entrepreneurs and speakers alike. But teaching is that tiny finger of your toe with a bruised and low self-esteem.”

Over the course of the fellowship, I became more certain and proud of my decision! Given the COVID times and daily reminders of proving our worth, I believe it’s a good time to reflect our WHY of teaching! Especially when AI and machine learning can automate complex processes of administrative tasks, assessments and lesson planning, what shifts are we looking at in our WHY and HOW?

What does it take to be a mentor? 

We know that EdTech capabilities can’t replace us. However, with Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the rise to replace human intervention, five million jobs will cease to exist by 2030. So, how are we preparing ourselves and our learners for this? 

Social and emotional skills can’t be automated!

We upskill! Once we begin our own journey of adapting to this dynamism, our learners will too. It’s the era of customisation. We must align our lessons with the needs and interests of our learners and what’s the future of that particular concept. 

Here are some tech tools for Math and Science:

It’s interesting how a Google search on ‘upskilling teachers’ is more about upskilling students than educators. There’s professional development, but where is personal?

So, before we customise lesson plans, let’s do a self skill-assessment and customise our learning path. 

Here’s where we begin:

Once we are through with our SWOT analysis, we plan our actions! We’re trying a plethora of pedagogy tools to encourage reflection, qualitative assessments through feedback, peer-to-peer learning for our students, let’s do it for ourselves too! It’s time to leverage our learnings and the Teacher Tribe collective to begin our journey as mentors and combine our intelligences with AI…

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