You Never Really Learn Until You Teach

I had wanted to be a teacher for as long as I could remember. From the time I was in pre-school I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up, and my dream stayed with me till the day I graduated from school. After graduation I had to wait for quite a few months for my results, and my mum suggested that I look for a part time job. I started my first job as an assistant teacher in an enrichment center nearby where I lived. That was the start to my teaching career.

They say that teaching is not just a job. It is a calling. I couldn’t agree more because without the calling, one would never have the patience and determination to overcome all the challenges your students throw your way. I will be honest here, when you have a classroom of hyperactive kids wailing and screaming at the top of their lungs, it is so hard to contain yourself from just grabbing someone and smacking them to silence the class. But you manage to do it somehow, because that’s what passion is about – Still being able to find a solution even when you’re at your wits end.

Let me begin by stressing that these are all my thoughts and what I’ve experienced over the course of my work as a teacher. Different people may have different views because every teacher’s way of educating isn’t the same. So this shouldn’t be used as a comparison. Besides, I don’t have the widest experience, but I really learnt a lot from my students when I was teaching.

A good teacher, like a good entertainer first must hold his audience’s attention, then he can teach his lesson.                                                                                    

– John Henrik Clarke

This was something I had to learn step by step. In order to get your students to listen, you first need to get their attention. It’s not easy though. Children have shorter attention span than adults, so their minds tend to drift off really quickly. I had to constantly think of ways to keep them focused so that I could finish my lesson as planned. I learned how to set motivational targets and boundaries for them. Kids tend to focus better on doing something when they have a target to achieve. Even better if they know that there is some sort of reward waiting for them at the finish line. Rewards do not need to be big. This is the beauty of children. They are easily contented as long as they know that their efforts are valued and recognized.

 

A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning.

-Brad Henry

I remember my schooling years and the teachers who made my days so miserable that I dread waking up for school everyday. I used to question why some teachers actually go into teaching when they have no passion at all?! It’s sad to say that 70% of my teachers were demotivated and were never really involved with their students. I failed to understand why but with time, the only reason I could think of was that they just didn’t know what else to do. Teaching was the easiest and safest choice of career. WRONG! Teaching is never the easiest because you spend all your free time thinking how to make the lives of your students better and how to help them excel in their studies. Believe it or not, students put a whole lot of trust in their teachers. I had only 2 teachers who really made a difference in my life during my schooling years. They both inspired me to pursue my dream of teaching. They both showed me that teachers could actually do more than just teach – They inspire hope, ignite the imagination and instill a love of learning in their students.

 

The thing I loved the most – and still love the most about teaching – is that you can connect with an individual or a group, and see that individual or group exceed their limits.                                                                                                                                                               -Mike Krzyzewski

This is the most rewarding part of teaching for me. You get to meet individuals who have no clue what life is about, or why they actually go to school for. You start out the rough climb up a hill that almost seems impossible. There will be more rainy days than sunshine, but at the end of a storm, there is always a rainbow. I have a strong believe that every child has their own strengths and talents. You just need the right touch to ignite that spark in them. In the beginning everything just seems impossible. Don’t give up on them. Persevere and you will be amazed at how they turn out. Sometimes you just need someone to believe in you enough. It’s called the power of trust. You believe in someone so strongly that the energy turns into their strength, making them determined to reach beyond their limits. When you witness your kids exceeding their own limits, that’s your achievement as their mentor and teacher.

 

Every child should have a caring adult in their lives. And that’s not always a biological parent or family member. It may be a friend or neighbor. Often times it is a teacher.

-Joe Manchin

There are times when a child has something to say, but they don’t know who to turn to. They find it difficult to approach parents for fear that parents may not understand them. Neither can they talk to their peers for fear of being judged. If a teacher is close enough to him/her, very often the child turns to the teacher for advice. This is probably one of the things that makes teaching so fulfilling – the relationship I had and hopefully will always have with my students. I was able to understand students so much better because I had a better perspective of what was going on in their lives apart from studies. I had a rule where my students could call or look for me any time or hour of the day, because I would rather be the one they spoke to even about the silliest and most minor thing, than have them go astray because they never had anyone to turn to. I promised never to judge them. I told them that they could even wake me up at 3am if they didn’t know who else to turn to. Children and teenagers have feelings and these feelings can turn into strong actions. Sometimes, without proper guidance, their action could have serious consequences. At times, they just want to feel valued and wanted. That people are willing to hear them out. I wanted to be that person for my students. And I’m proud to say that it was the best feeling knowing that my students trusted me with their deepest secrets.

 

There are so many things that have made my career fulfilling as a teacher. I am no longer in the education field but the satisfaction and achievement that came with my teaching experience will always stay with me no matter where my career takes me in the future. It has been a thrilling roller coaster ride having these kids in my life and I would not trade the experience for anything in this world. Thank you, kids (who are now teens and young men and ladies) for all that you have taught me. I went into the education world to teach, but came out being taught so many new experiences and lessons. As my title says it, you never really learn until you teach. The challenge is worth everything!

 

One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.

-Carl Jung