Many students have asked me how I got into the profession of teaching. A few have even questioned my decision with the remark ‘this can’t be something you want to do for the rest of your life, right?’ Statements such as these make me feel sad and disappointed about the perception of a teacher’s role in today’s society.
The person you are today is a combined effort of forces, namely your parents, your direct family and friends, and the mentors who inspired you along the way. And a large number of them were your teachers, or still are today. The teachers you met at school, on the field, at the dance studio, or your community. They are the individuals in your life who once left an impression on you, however small and insignificant it might have seemed at that time. Perhaps you weren’t able to grasp the sheer weight of its impact and never imagined that someone’s words 20 years ago would be the leading voice behind a few of your most important life decisions.
Naturally not all teachers are good teachers. Some find themselves in the field of education by chance, having missed other opportunities and choose instead to lecture others by means of reiterating the knowledge they once received. Lecturing, in theory, is different than teaching; it presumes that the audience is ready, willing and able to absorb what is being said. There is a time and place for lecturing but (great) teachers know that all students have unique learning needs and learning styles that should be acknowledged before learning can take place.
Teachers should inspire, encourage and pave the way for your education. They should facilitate your learning needs and help you measure your progress. They should trigger your curiosities and challenge your thinking, broaden your mind to possibilities outside of your comfort zone. The true value of effective teaching is priceless.
I teach because it matters. I want to make my students feel important and understood. I want them to feel comfortable when sharing their vulnerabilities and confident when leaving the ‘classroom’ or meeting space. I want them to know that having the courage to identify and work on their weaknesses is what sets them apart from the rest. As a student, all you need to do is stay open and receptive to learning something new.
Having strong, clear objectives for your learning is helpful but recognizing and celebrating small victories along the way is what the process of learning is all about. Always stay curious and never stop learning (this goes for all the teachers out there, too!).