The moment I learned how to read and write, I told myself, “I am going to be a writer one day.” I was passionate about the English language and I am so thankful for my mother who introduced me to the Peter and Jane books. At the age of 10, I aspired to write my own book. So, I wrote a short storybook and passed it around the class for my friends to read. Thinking of it now, I am embarrassed. Growing up I was chasing those dreams, until one day I discovered a vacancy at a tuition centre near my college. I decided to give it a go because why not make some extra money? From that day on, I discovered the world of teaching and learned meaningful lessons from being a teacher.
After our parents, teachers come in second place to shape who we are now. At least the first 20 years of our lives we spend studying are crucial. We come across different teachers, different learning methods and different connections. No matter how much we love or despise that one teacher, in the end, all of them have played a part where they contribute to our personal growth.
I never understood why a certain teacher treats their students in a certain way until I became a teacher myself when I was at the age of 20. In this article, I am going to share the meaningful lessons I learned from being a teacher.
1. Patience and Accommodate to Different Personalities
First and foremost, patience. I never knew how patient I was until being patient is the only thing I have. My students were in the age range of 3-15 years old. You can already guess it, there were countless issues every day that I had to overcome. From tantrums, crying, refusal to do work and low attention span. During my first week, I did not have a clue on how I was supposed to handle a number of students with zero experience. I have encountered three situations at once: a crying student on my left, a talkative student on my right and a hyperactive student in front of me, but on the floor.
After two weeks in, I began to notice a pattern in these kids – from the way I teach as well as from the way I speak. Juggling 20 students at a time, I felt like I had 20 different personalities. I realized I need to understand these kids’ needs in order to be able to motivate them to learn. Based on educause.edu, understanding students’ personality traits and learning styles will create a more conducive learning environment. Everyone is different, hence in my case, I found a way to strategize my plan differently for my students to cater to their requirements.
Having to change your personality 20 times within an hour may sound exhausting. But it is not as exhausting as having to tolerate their daily outbursts. Consequently, I believe that being patient and understanding a person’s character is not only important when teaching children, but also in every workplace to avoid possible conflicts. Employees have the potential to burst, too.
2. Have a Plan, But Also Make Room for Adjustments
The next lesson I will be sharing is the importance of having a plan – and a backup plan. I used to enter the classroom at least an hour before to prepare myself. It is indeed difficult to have these kids’ attention throughout the class that lasts for 60 minutes. What I would do is look through their record while preparing the lesson of the day. For each student, I would establish one or two goals for them to accomplish within the one-hour class. Because I was an English teacher, the goals usually involve reading and speaking.
In times where they were not able to achieve the goals I have set for them, this is where the backup plan comes in hand. I taught myself how to adapt to changes and prepare when things do not go as how I want them to be. Unless you enjoy reading, a 15-minute session feels super short. However, there are people who find that as a struggle.
Instead of forcing them to sit down and read for 15-20 minutes straight, I allowed them to create a story map to enhance their creativity. I do not blame them for being exhausted from the same things, we all do. Therefore, coming up with different things had made the students engage more in their lessons.
3. Apologise When You Make a Mistake
Teachers are humans and they too cannot escape from making mistakes. I made a mistake a couple of times by raising my voice to my students. It was wrong and I knew I had to apologise. It does not matter whether I was older. By breaking this mentality, I practiced saying the word “sorry” to my students whenever I wronged them.
As I become comfortable with that, my students also learned to apologise when they make mistakes. They have shown me that apologising is not the hardest act in the world. After all, excelling in both academic and manners are equally important. At the same time, I was teaching myself to be the bigger person and set my ego aside.
4. Avoid Favouritism
The last lesson that I learned from being a teacher is paying close attention to each and every one of the students. Many may think that those who do not come up to their teachers and ask for help are doing just fine. I was completely unaware of how wrong that is until I started to observe the whole class. Most times, I usually focus on underachievers in the class and became distracted from other students.
From my experience, I talked more to the students who did the same. Without noticing, I began to favour some students more than the others. It was until one day when one of the quiet students showed a drop in his lessons. Little did I know, he was going through some challenging times. So I talked and listened to his difficulties while thinking of a solution.
This issue had changed how I perceive things. From that day on, I connected with every one of them and stumbled on hidden aspects inside them. I suppose that has helped them to be inspired and drove to learn new things every day.
When I was a teacher myself, there were a few things that came across my mind. “I am their teacher, but I feel like I am learning from them too.” Yes, I saw my students as my teachers. They have taught me valuable lessons in my life that contributed to personal growth. In my opinion, these lessons are the ones you should carry in your workplace as well. Keep them in mind and you are set!