This is my eighth year teaching high school French, and boy have I learned a lot! I thought it would be nice to share my insights with you. After much reflection, I came up with five things I’ve learned since my first year of teaching.
1) College cannot fully prepare you for the life of a teacher.
Let’s face it. In college, after your basic courses are completed, you have to take core courses. These core courses include learning about the big names in education history like Maslow and Piaget. You also learn various theories that are supposed to be relevant to the classroom. I must admit that even after my undergraduate studies and student teaching experience, I was in no way, shape or form ready to take on a group of about 100 students on my own. My first year teaching was definitely a wake up call. No teacher had really helped me make the connections between the theories we were learning and the actual classroom. I really needed someone to help give me practical teaching applications so I could do my job effectively and survive! As I reflect on the early part of my career, I realize I knew what my students needed, but I did not know how to always break free of the traditional methods that helped me learn. Fortunately, time, experience, and relationships I’ve formed with other educators have worked together to help me gain a better understanding of what it takes to be an effective teacher.
2) Teaching is a calling.
Everyone is not meant to be a teacher! Yes, I said it. Sure, it looks nice to have summers and major holidays off, but let me reassure, we EARN those days off! I know of many who feel teachers don’t do enough or that we have it “easy”. Trust me, many of those same people wouldn’t last one week in our shoes! Most of us do NOT enter this profession for the money. We enter this profession because we want to make a difference in the lives of our youth.
3) Students are teachers, too!
Who says only students learn? I have learned so much over the past eight years, and this knowledge has shaped me personally and professionally. I’ve learned that many students are dealing with issues I never had to think about at their age. This can make it so difficult to concentrate and learn at school. I am amazed when I see so many students succeeding despite opposition.
4) I have over 700 children.
Each student that I have ever taught is more than a name on a roster, more than a body in a desk, and more than a number representing class rank. When I take on a new group of students, they become my children. In fact, beside my computer desk is a wall of pictures representing the many who call me “mama”. I treat each child as if they are my own because I have learned that you can reach even those who struggle (academically and in terms of behavior) when they know you care.
5) Every child can learn.
I know it is sort of cliché-like, but I truly believe every child can learn. Now, does this mean we should teach everyone in the same manner? No. Differentiation can make a huge difference in the classroom. I know this seems impossible in certain courses; however, after making some much-needed changes in my classroom, I can attest that when you use the right “vehicle”, you would be surprised how many struggling students begin to blossom! Sometimes I hit the mark, and other days I don’t. Yet, I refuse to give up just yet. I know I still have more to offer our young minds, and I am fully committed to the challenge! 🙂