On Our Radar: Meet the trailblazers who are shaping the future of content creation.
In the world of digital creators, our favourite kind has got to be those who add value to their audience’s knowledge base. And that’s exactly what online teachers offer. Teachers who double as digital creators bring a dynamic and innovative approach to education. Beyond the traditional roles in the classroom, these educators leverage digital platforms to craft engaging and interactive content, making learning a more immersive experience.
Social media has provided students with one such professor/creator whose teaching style became an immediate hit amongst them. It is none other than Sanjay Appan! The cool way in which he approaches educational concepts and makes the toughest of topics super easy for his students to understand, is truly joyful to watch. Sanjay Appan’s content is as entertaining as it is educational. He develops a unique bond with his students and audience that has rightfully made him one of the most loved professors.
The Social Nation team got an opportunity to have a conversation with Sanjay Appan and dive deep into his teaching philosophy and unravel why is he the Internet’s favourite teacher. Read on to know more.
Did you always want to be a teacher? How did the realisation to teach come?
The credit goes to my friends, actually. Matlab kabhi kabhi un log ko concepts nahi samajhta tha jo teacher high-level pe sikhaate the school mein. Toh un log mujhse puchte the ke ‘Sanjay bhai iska koi easy trick hai kya?’ Main unko code banake sikha deta tha. Vahi log bole ke tu padhata hai na toh yaad rehta hai, ekdum ghus jaata hai dimaag mein. Usko maine seriously liya hi nahi, ignore kiya. Complex cheezon ko main easy bana hi sakta hu. Fir aise hi teaching chalu kiya aur bas sab click ho gaya. Ab toh teacher hi hai main.
Can you break down your journey from being a professor to becoming a digital creator? What motivated or inspired this transition?
I have been teaching since the last 6-7 years. Ye jo reels ab dekh rahe haina log, voh mere students tab se dekh rahe hai. Meri wife Sheetal ne ek baar bola ke ‘Sanjay tu jo class mein karta hai na uska aise hi video bana le na aur post kar. Bohot logon ko maalum padega.’ Main ignore karta tha voh baatein. Main bola voh camera rahega mereko bolne mein maza nai aayega. Toh voh boli ek kaam kar student ko dede camera toh tujhe lagega hi nahi ke koi record kar raha hai. Toh voh jo nikalta tha, voh ekdum original nikalta tha.
Ek baar ek lecture chal raha tha, toh meri wife se related koi example de diya, Ganpati bapa ka example de diya, aur uska ek definition bana diya. Voh post kya kiya ke logon ko bohot pasand aane laga. Teacher se leke didgital platform pe transform bas voh chhote se idea se hua. Ispe baith ke koi brainstorm nahi kiya.
Do teachers feel a certain pressure to build an audience or a personal brand with the students? How do you tackle this?
Teachers do A LOT out of their comfort zone just to make sure ke jo bhi bacha class mein aaye voh padhe, lekin kuch kuch jagah pe voh equipments and tools nahi milte teachers ko so that they can reach the students. Unhe itni badi audience ko cater karne ke liye voh proper system nahi diya jaata jiske vajah se thoda gap aa jaata hai students aur teacher ke beech mein.
Aur dusra, teachers ko lagta hai ke agar koi bacha lecture nahi baith ta hai ya attentive nahi hota hai toh voh serious nahi hai lekin problem yeh hai ke unn students ko kisi ne samjha hi nahi. Mere case mein, main grassroot level pe unke hi background se aata hu. Toh jab main jaata hu, toh unko lagta hai ke kaun hai ye, mere jaisa hi kyun lagta hai ye? Mera zyaada focus mere last benchers pe rehta hai jin mein potential bhar bhar ke rehta hai bas unhe koi samjhta nahi hai.
What new skills did you have to acquire or develop in order to thrive as a digital teacher/creator?
Instagram pe reels ekdum cut-to-cut hote hai – 90 seconds mein sab kuch bata do. Jo 90 seconds ki reel aap dekhte ho voh actually 90 minutes ka lecture hota hai. Uss 90 minutes ko ekdum crisp karke bataya jaata hai. Toh video record karne ke time pe na mere dimaag mein play hote hi rehta hai ke ye jo main ab bolne jaa raha hu, ye bohot important line hona chahiye. Kyuke aapka attention span, jitna time aap mujhe dekhne vale ho, voh bohot kam hai. Toh main sochta hu ke mera jo best hai voh 90 seconds mein aa jaaye.
Were there any particular challenges you faced during the transition, and how did you overcome them?
Things to speak on. Kuch kuch cheezen mujhe at the back of my mind rakhni hi padhti thi ke ye nahi bolna hai. It could be something that might offend someone or something political. However, I make sure that my students/audience are knowledgeable about those topics. I try to keep things as neutral as possible.
Main jabhi bhi bahar colleges mein ya coaching institutes main padhaane jaata hu, vaha koi ek toh teacher aayenge aur bolenge hi ke ‘Sanjay Sir, this is not the actual way you should teach.’ They would say ‘Students are not your friends, right? So you make sure there is a certain language and a protocol…’ Main sochta hu inko kya samjhaana, main apne bacho ko hi samjahunga jo sikhaane aaya hu.
For me, concept matters a lot more than the medium of language in which I speak. I’m here to teach students at their level and not at the higher level that is already going above their heads.
Young children these days don’t have a long attention span. How do you engage them ensure they focus on the topic?
I believe that if 100 students are sitting in my lectures, I make sure that the 100th student’s attention is always on me, no matter what. If I lose eye contact with that 100th student then I feel like my lecture went waste. To make sure I retain everyone’s attention, I pick the most recent event in the news or world. Jaise abhi World Cup hua ya fir koi meme material examples use karta hu.
Jaise students ko click hota hai na ke ye toh maine dekha hai ya suna hai ya trend pe chal raha hai, toh khatam, fir uska dhyaan toh mere paas hona hi hai. Whether it’s a first-bench scholar or a last-bencher, I make concepts relatable to keep their attention.
What makes an ideal teacher?
An ideal teacher voh hota hai jo book ka toh padhaye, kyun ke voh toh koi bhi padha sakta hai, right? Lekin students ke andar ka jo fear hai na, voh fear hata ke usme confidence laake dikha sako toh tum sahi mein teacher ho.
Any key lessons you would like to give to those in the early stages of their career who are confused about their education?
See education is very important. There’s no way around it. If you see many famous personalities like Virat Kohli and Sachin Tendulkar, they always say that they regret not completing their education. So studying is a must. But along with that, if you have a specific skill set that is unique to you, you should definitely develop it. Education ke saath agar voh skill set bhi build kiya na, toh tu player hai. It’s an added benefit to your personality.
What advice would you give to other professors or teachers?
I would say don’t take things too seriously, just go with the flow. The best suggestion I can give is to create a friendly environment in the class, the students will love you like anything. Make the atmosphere so light, ke bache ko mazaa aaye padhne mein and doesn’t feel forced to study.
By embracing digital creativity, teachers like Sanjay Appan not only enrich the learning experience for their students but also contribute to a broader educational community, fostering collaboration and the exchange of innovative ideas.