Ten things that ten years of teaching have taught me

A lot of people love flinging around the phrase, “those who can’t do, teach,” and after ten years of teaching, I’d like to see them try! There is nothing more tasking, gruelling, challenging, draining or straining as teaching is but at the same time, nothing is as enjoyable, fruitful and rewarding as being a teacher.

I started off working in weekend supplementary schools before moving on to a primary school and then to face the big kids at a secondary school and believe you me, these are the hardest to work with. That being said, in all the years I have been teaching, I feel as though I learnt more from my students than they did from me. Here are a few of the most important things they have taught me:

  1. Play nice!

It’s something that we always tell children, but do we as adults always play nice? There are so many people out there who seem to want to dig a whole for their colleague, regardless of the nature of their work. Play nice and remember that things come around. Do good, and good will come unto you too.

  1. Treat others as you wish to be treated

Leading on from the previous point, it really is self-explanatory. With this, if you feel like you’re in a position of authority, never exert your power and demand respect. Tricky students made me realise that respect is never given, and it is something that one should earn through their actions and mannerisms. Give respect to receive it in return.

  1. Listen

In a world dominated by the ‘like,’ it is becoming increasingly hard to simply listen to others. We are often so consumed with being heard that we forget to hear what others have to say. We need to allow for others to express themselves and to share their story, in order to understand them better.

  1. Respect

Respect everyone: students, colleagues, senior members of staff, the parents and anyone who comes your way. It’s true; it needs to be earned, but never judge before allowing a person to express who they truly are.

  1. Life happens

Sometimes the father of a student passes away. Sometimes they have been forced to visit family over the weekend and couldn’t do their homework. Sometimes a colleague has had a tricky time at home and is just having a terrible day. Things like that happen, and we need to ensure that we remember that things can be terrible for some, and that it’s okay.

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  1. Learn to give

As much as receiving is exciting and enjoyable, giving is a truly beautiful thing. Don’t be shy to give praise, give respect, give an excuse, and give a minute of your time, even if it’s just a sticker! Giving is rewarding all around and is something that becomes a true lesson for your own students, and the best part is that they will begin to implement it too.

  1. Show gratitude

Alongside giving, learn to show gratitude. This could mean a mere ‘thank you,’ but it could also mean going out of your way to make someone feel as though their hard work is appreciated and that it hasn’t gone unnoticed. Especially when in the teaching field, you don’t expect to be thanked for doing what you think is the right thing, but when you do hear the gratitude from parents, students, or anyone else, it’s heart warming. Learn to give it when it’s due, and you’ll know how good it will feel for others.

  1. Have fun and embrace your inner child

Think back to your own schooling years – I’m sure a good many of us will remember a large chunk of it being boring. Regardless of what field you’re in or what you do, embrace your inner child and don’t be scared of allowing yourself to have fun every once in a while. I can guarantee that you will enjoy yourself, and those around you will too!

  1. Be human

Everyone has his or her own circumstances but from a distance, it’s easier to chastise, blame and judge. Remember that you’re human, and those you’re dealing with in life are also human beings with real feelings, emotions and circumstances.

  1. Don’t be afraid of change

If there’s one thing that continues to impress me, it’s the resilience of children. It is incredibly difficult to consider the prospect of moving on, regardless of your age. I learnt from these children that it’s okay to be scared, but to also embrace the unknown future and the promise of change and development.

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