7 Lessons Teaching Teaches You:
After teaching for the last year and a half, I’ve decided to step back and take stock of a few things I’ve learnt along the way. Here are just a few:
Positivity is wayyyy better than negativity: If you’ve got something hard or boring to teach and you let your students feel the negativity, the lesson can unravel quickly. I taught the same lesson to two different classes on the same day, I knew it what going to be quite a laborious lesson for the students and I made the mistake of reflecting that in my teaching energy… big mistake! The first lesson was dull, lacklustre and could have been a lot better. The energy you put into lessons is contagious! The next lesson I addressed this mistake and turned what was a boring, dusty lesson into a funny and self-depreciating lesson. This is true with life, it’s why you’re taught to smile and dial in sales.
Lesson #1: Smile and the world smiles with you.
Some jobs are for the parents: Schools and education systems around the world do an amazing job of building individual experiences and developing capable, curious students into young adults. When you think about the number of students around the world who go through this process each year, it’s outstanding! That being said, schools can’t do everything… and they shouldn’t be expected to. Some parts of a young persons life should be developed by parents, guardians, families and communities.
Lesson #2: Don’t expect everything to be done for you.
A lot of life is luck: I recently read a book called ‘Outliers’; it’s been pegged as a must-read, I wasn’t the biggest fan, but I’m no book critic. One of the stand-out parts for me was when it took a look at birthdays in correlation with students test scores, noticing that students who were born September — December, were far more likely to be top performers, compared to those between May — August. This is based on the conclusion that those born in the Sep-Dec bracket will be older when starting school at the beginning of the school year in September and therefor have nine months development on those born in the May-Aug bracket; from there, the competitive advantage is multiplied in opportunity. The rest of school is like this too!! Which class are you in? Where are you sat? Who are you sat next to? Is your teacher in-experienced or a veteran? All of these build into the early opportunities you have to develop.
Lesson #3: Step back and realise you are not in control of everything.
At the end of the day, you make your own luck: Considering the last point, a lot of life isn’t actually about what happens to you (chance-luck), but how you react to it (luck-personified). Students that may not be smartest, but are highly studious will be ‘luckier’ than those who put in no effort. Students that bounce back from defeat, a bad test score or incorrect answer, will be ‘luckier’ than those who sulk, (see grit). Students who use their strengths and weaknesses to a combined advantage, will be ‘luckier’, than a student who sees a weakness as a true weakness.
Lesson #4: A positive outlook on life, will have a considerable effect on how lucky you really are.
Some people are not academic and that’s more than ok: Whether they’re born gifted or nurtured in such a way, it’s not for me to say! But some of the kids I teach are incredibly gifted; their energy is unique, their questioning minds are endless and their academic ability is brilliance personified. Some of my students are not like this and that’s more than OK, because the world doesn’t need a never ending line of academics. The world needs dreamers and artists and musicians and leaders, which so many of these non-academic students are. The problem is when they excel in one subject, but not across the entire syllabus, we call them an under-performer. These students are smart in areas which which we place less value on, but they are smart!
Lesson #5: Focus on your strengths, even if they’re not academic.
Children are just small drunk adults: I read this quote somewhere and it rings incredibly true! Drunk people stumble out of the bar wondering where to go next, kids stumble out of class, arms around each other, zig-zagging down the corridor to their next class. Drunk people can’t control what they say, children blurt out their sub-conscious. Drunk people wear their hearts on their sleeves, children are often learning how to deal and cope with emotions themselves.
Lesson #6: Children ARE small drunk adults.
And a personal realisation, teaching English in Vietnam:
You start to question your subject/specialisation: As an English teacher in Vietnam, it’s my job to explain vocabulary and grammar to students regarding English. Some of this questioning is good and you have an opportunity to step back and I see my language from another view, breaking down vocabulary and seeing how the word was built in the first place… biosphere, atmosphere… bio: life/sphere = life on earth… atmo: air/sphere = air around earth. On the other hand, some days I’m left frustrated by my own language! Homophones are annoying and who ever invented homographs can go and step on some lego! Bow: A bend at the waist, (or) the front of a boat, (or) a pair of tied loops.
Lesson #7: Keep on learning and stay curious.
Here are just a few more:
You can be as organised as you like, but never underestimate the value of improvising.
Teachers do an amazing job, 999 times out of 1000.
Being a leader gets a lot more out of a class than being a boss.
There’s always a place for humour, a day without laughter is a day wasted.
Proper planning prevents P*$s poor performance, otherwise known as the 6 P’s.
And most importantly:
No matter their age, people just want to be happy and share experiences with friends/family.
Are you a teacher? What has teaching taught you?