As I once again step into the shoes of a teacher, I begin to reflect on what does a teacher really do. Below are some insights that arose from spending two days in the classroom.
A teacher is firstly a learner. Before I can begin to teach, I need to learn. I need to master the requisite skills and knowledge to be shared with the students. I need to have at least a cursory understanding of the learning needs and styles of the students, I need to be mindful of the character and culture of the educational institution I am teaching in, I need to know where the boundaries are, my personal limitations and my aspirations for the students as well as the possible aspirations they might have for themselves. The list goes on. Some of these can be learnt through conversations, others through observation and speculation; most of these however, such as students’ learning needs and styles, a teacher can only begin to learn after one has stepped into the classroom and started the lesson.
A teacher enables learning. Teachers need to recognize we play a supporting role and not the lead role in the classroom. Even though I joke frequently about being queen in the classroom, that really is merely a joke. Teaching has always been a means to an end, and the end being learning. And who do we hope would be learning most in class? That would have to be our students. Most of us having been out through school would know learning can’t be forced, the decision to learn has to be made by the student and can only be made by the student alone. As a teacher, my role therefore is to help the student find value in learning, provide a conducive environment for learning and be their loudest cheerleader, believing that they can learn even when no one else would.
I reckon that a teacher is much more than the 2 points raised here though just trying to do these two things in class is already causing quite a strain. That said, difficult as it may be, teaching is still very much worth doing, as least that’s how I feel. On this note, I would like to share this article that a friend sent me this morning: Teaching Is Not a Business.