Reflections: Two Months into Teaching

Tomorrow will mark 35 days of my first (almost full time) teaching gig. To say it has been great is … well, it fails to really describe what it’s like.

I never understood exhaustion until I became a teacher. As a teacher, you’re constantly ‘switched on’; physically, mentally and emotionally. You’re fielding 1001 questions, whilst making sure kids don’t get hurt. Whilst providing extra support or challenges to those who need it. Oh, and problem solving all along the way. I’ve been so exhausted, my feet are dragging and my bones feel like concrete – but the minute I step into the classroom, that all disappears.

Being a teacher, especially a graduate teacher, it’s taught me not to take support networks for granted. Loved ones who rock up with food in their hands to a gathering or a catch up. Friends who just sit and listen to a barrage of nonsensical words of an issue (or two or three) that’s been worrying me. Partners who make you a cup of tea in the mornings. It’s the little things that make you feel not alone as you’re drowning in paperwork, lesson plans and marking.

Working with teenagers who are great one day and grumpy the next has taught me about the diversity and fluidity that are human beings. It’s taught me that rigidity and structure are great support, but it’s nothing without flexibility. It’s no use dragging kids (metaphorically) to get work done if we don’t care for them as well. I was sitting in a workshop and one of the key learnings i took was “allowing different pathways”. Sure we need a structure of a plan to achieve shared outcomes. Yet we all learn differently, and we all walk a different journey. Why not let there be different paths to achieve a shared outcome?

Self-bloody-care. I harp on about this but nothing reinforces the importance of self-care until a rough day in a crazy week as a teacher. You can’t look after and teach people if you’re not looking after yourself. As a friend put it, (paraphrasing here) “you won’t be on your A game if you’re tired from working late and not looking after yourself.”

One thing I’ve noticed is how the more I have to manage behavior, the less I can focus on teaching, and the more my confidence takes a hit and my anxiety/doubts starts to kick in. Am i actually doing the right thing? Are the kids actually learning? Am I liked? Yet like my friend and fellow teacher, Katie said: “We just need to be sure of ourselves. We do know what we are doing and we do it well!”

So, out of all this here’s the one thing I want to take away: Believe in yourself, have faith in your capabilities. You’re stronger, wiser than you know and it’s not being popular amoungst the kids but being there in the classroom everyday with the kids and guiding them.

I can do this.

Yours,

Sophia
xx

liebeheart-teaching-narrative

Stories and identities

Narratives. They are what defines where you’ve come from and where you want to go.

It is a central part of your identity. Each story that is told by others to you shapes your narrative little by little as you make meaning of their story.

Stories are how you navigate the many paths to get where you are now. They are how you connect with people who might have taken a similar path or those who simply want to understand you.

Stories are what makes teachers who they are. Get a teacher to tell you a story of a class they taught, then you glimpse a summary of who they are.

Stories will tell you the hopes, fears and beliefs of the storyteller. We make meaning out of life through stories.

One of my uni tasks this week was to reflect on our own teacher’s identity, our own narrative. Sitting in a classroom, with people whose narrative seem to have been created quite easily, I felt myself asking – “What is my story? What’s my teacher’s identity?”

When my professional identities include a communications professional, a journalist by training, and an economist.

How do you melt these professional identities into a teacher’s identity?

I find myself asking myself in dark moments: “Can I call myself an economics teacher? A media teacher? A teacher?”

But this morning, I had a realisation.

Yes. Yes, I can call myself a teacher.

Because I’ve always been a teacher. It’s always been hidden in my personal narrative.

I remember being young, sitting next to mum as she was marking assignments and essays. Being allowed to spellcheck her PhD drafts as a child. Making my scribble marks in red pen as a toddler on mum and dad’s postgraduate work. (Unconsciously marking their work perhaps?)

I remember being 13 and teaching my baby sister how to say words. I remember helping her with her homework during primary school.

I remember teaching media relation workshops during university.

So I can say I’m a teacher because I’ve always been one.

What my teacher’s identity is, what my narrative is, is something I’m discovering more and more as I embark on my DipEd.

I don’t have a fully formed “this is my narrative” yet, and I don’t know (yet) what it encapsulates but I do know this:

I am an economics and a media teacher. I am a teacher because I want to teach kids something I’m passionate in. I am a teacher because I always want to encourage learning in our kids.

Yours,
Sophia x

(Feature Image taken by Steven Chew Photography.)

study-liebeheart

Dear study

Dear study,

Today I went back to study, back to late nights revising theory and expanding on it through written essays. Today I went back to learning, back to listening to copious information, analysing the data and churning back out my critical analysis of it.

I’d have thought that I would not want to enter back into the tertiary system so soon after 5 years of my undergraduate degree, but here I am. The first day of my postgraduate degree.

Today as I sat in a class learning (briefly) about instructional strategies, as I heard anecdotes from our lecturer’s own teaching experience, I was remembering my own schooling.

Remembering the teachers that made an impression, the teachers I didn’t like and the moments during class that I still remember.

I remembered how engaged I was in the subject because the teacher valued my opinion and encouraged it.

I remember the laughs and smiles in my English Lit class as we reenacted scenes to explore a topic.

I remember how frustrated I got when teachers ignored our feedback on the class, and how we felt like we were back on square zero despite months of hard work.

I remember feeling overwhelmed because I was taking longer to understand concepts. Yet I remember teachers encouraging me to keep on going.

As I sat on the train on the way back from my first class, I became determined to be the teachers that encouraged me, that valued my opinion and made learning fun. To be those type of teachers for the kids I teach.

To be a teacher that encourages them to be interested in economics and media beyond the classroom.

Yours,
Sophia x