Tag Archives: teaching

Things I’m learning as a parent because I’m a teacher

Some days I feel I learn more about being a parent now that I am teacher, than I do about teaching. Every day, I walk out of school and say to myself “I will not do [insert that day’s revelation] with my own kids”.

So far, some of the things I have learned are:

1. Make the kids eat breakfast before they go to school – they won’t learn anything without food in their belly.
2. Coca-cola and a bag of mixed lollies is not a good breakfast – they won’t learn anything and they will be totally disruptive in their class ensuring no-one else learns anything.
3. Don’t make them decide what they want to be when they grow up, until they actually grow up. They are allowed to change their mind from day to day, week to week and year to year. It is not imperative that they know what direction they are headed in when they are 12.
4. Don’t take responsibility for their mistakes and don’t tell them that mistakes are not allowed. It is OK for them to make mistakes. Mistakes are good, mistakes are how we learn, mistakes allow us to build resilience. Instead of encouraging them to cry and rip pages out of their book to hide the mistakes, teach them to accept the mistake and be proud of themselves for noticing that they had made a mistake. Repeat after me MISTAKES ARE GOOD!
5. No, it really isn’t funny or OK to draw penises in the book of another student, no matter the brilliant level of artistic talent they are displaying.
6. Drink bottles should contain water, not another top up of Coca Cola or Fanta to give them energy through the day. A healthy sandwich and a piece of fruit will do the job nicely thanks.

That is today’s life lessons for this parent who happens to be a teacher. Stay tuned for more life lessons.

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The real thing

You study hard with your eye on the prize. Then the prize arrives. The real deal. Walking into a classroom without a supervising teacher present who controls the class for you, without a lesson plan because you are a casual teacher and you only found out 20 minutes ago the classes that you are teaching for the day, with a one line post-it note saying “teach this”. You are unprepared, you are alone and you have to face them.

The thing they do not teach you at university is how to deal with teenagers that know you are unprepared, alone and fearful.

Within minutes you are no longer teaching students but zoo animals caught in a cage.

You realise that you have no control at all, and that they do not respect you. Of course they don’t, you’ve done nothing to earn that respect.

You try again when you have to face the same heads later in the day, but they know they’ve won. You try stay calm but you end up yelling, adding fuel to the fire. You re-iterate the classroom rules and that works for some, but for others it draws further mockery.

They are rude, offensive, cruel and they know they have the upper hand.

So whilst you hope that the school will be kind enough on a newbie and invite you back again (although in your heart you seriously doubt it), you start thinking and planning, planning and thinking, realising that uni really has no idea about the inside of the classroom when they say “if you do this, they will all listen”. No, if you do that it turns into a zoo.

But just as you think you will give up you get a class who are beautiful. They are different to the others – they really want to be there. You relax the rules because they want to learn and you change the furniture so everyone is sitting in a circle for open discussion and when the bell goes they ask if they can stay and keep learning from you.

In the staffroom some kindly, experienced teachers offer words of wisdom, whilst others tell you it just isn’t acceptable.

So you hope for that phone to ring whilst, you think and plan, plan and think, because the reality is, most of the students don’t want to be there, don’t want to learn from you and you have to find ways to ignite that, but you will only get 15-20 minutes to prepare for that moment. So you think and plan, plan and think …

After writing this, I purchased a book (as all newbies do) to help me think and plan, and it says posting the classroom rules is the biggest mistake you can make. No wonder it went from bad to worse …

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