On a Different Kind of Note

La dee daaaa.. nice right?

So this week I will finish up my 8th year of teaching! Wowee! How did that happen? When I think back to my first few years, I’m amazed that anyone made it out alive. I’m also quite happy to see that all of those kids from my classes are apparently contributing positively to society.. none are in jail or anything! But seriously, it’s been quite the experience and I have learned a ton in the past 8 years.

Having taught in three different International Schools in three different countries, I feel like I’ve learned a few things. The thing with teaching is that I don’t think one ever feels fully confident in his/her teaching abilities. There is always room for improvement and I think that the people who have decided that they have indeed mastered the art of teaching, should probably start looking at retirement properties.

So the things that I have learned so far, in no particular order:

1) It really helps if you’ve actually read the book you are teaching.

2) If the students are not understanding the assignment and requirements, it’s almost always entirely your fault.

3) Students respond better when they think that you like and respect them.

4) Watch out for the quiet ones.

5) Piles of marking don’t just disappear on their own. Funny thing is that the pile will get bigger and bigger, no matter how much you ignore it

6) Sometimes when a student is unhappy, it has nothing to do with you. It has everything to do with the fact that she is a walking hormone.

7) The odd time, the best thing to do is put the book down and play a game.

8) Don’t ever assume students know all the random things you know. It’s really important to place things in context for them. Students learning in Indonesia have no idea that when it gets cold in Canada your tongue can stick to a metal pole.

9) Bringing in chocolates on a Friday is a sure fire way to keep morale high, especially during exam period.

10) Pay attention to your students. Usually they want you to know what’s going on with them even if they don’t say it directly. Kids give lots of clues. Be awake enough to pick up on them.

As I’ve been reflecting on the past 8 years and begin thinking about the next 8, 18, 28… eek! – one quote continues to play through my mind and is something that I really must continue to remember. Because at the end of the day– it’s not about how much Hamlet a kid can quote or how well they can form a thesis statement. It’s about something else entirely. As Maya Angelou says:

“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”

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