By Maddy Botha
As teachers, we are dealing with fragile beings. With increased focus on curriculum development, meeting standards, collecting data and administration, sometimes it’s easy to forget that the best way to teach students is to connect with them as beings.
Too often, I’ve heard teachers talk about how helpless they feel when it comes to reaching out to their students. I believe when students feel their teacher is a caring person, then the classroom becomes a happier place for everyone. This is one of the many reasons why I teach the way I do.
For me, teaching is the best job. I enjoy every bit of it. It has its ups and downs but on the whole it’s fulfilling when you help youngsters to leave school with decent grades and know they have a future. As a teacher, every day is a new day
Unlike most careers, a teaching career provides the opportunity to inspire students, not only academically but personally as well. I enjoy connecting with my students, being part of their doing in the class. I remember a meeting I had with some of my students’ parents last year during a parent-teacher conference: They mentioned that their kids cannot not wait to come to school and that they liked talking about what happened at school. The parents asked me what do I do different, my simple answer being – I connect with my students, or at least, I try my best to connect with them. How do I connect with them? I enjoy sitting on the mat with them when we read. When they do a colouring activity, I pick up a colour pencil and colour the same picture. Writing poems with them is my favourite.
I have recently incorporated peer teaching more, and the students absolutely love it, they love being the “teacher” for a minute or two. This really gets my students involved and it also teaches them that there are many different ways to approach something simple like a maths problem – we all have our own way of doing things.
Offering positive reinforcement, smiling, and listening to their concerns all help to gain students’ trust and friendship. As teachers, it’s important for us to understand that there is so much more to students than the life they lead in class.
I realised that I have to also make technology work for me – seeing the day and age we live in, children of today are practically born with an electronic device in their hand. It sometimes scares me when I find out what kind of movies they have seen and how much time some of them spend in front of the computer.
Teaching is one of those professions that keeps you on your toes and young at heart. It allows you to use your brain and continue learning each day, sometimes through a variety of professional development methods.
Last but not least of all, I teach from the heart. For me, teaching is touching the lives of my students, making connections that will last a lifetime, and providing them with inspiration that will take them places in their lives.
Maddy Botha is a Year 5 teacher at Mooltripakdee International School, Pattaya