I always wanted to be a teacher. When I was a little girl, I used to “play school” with my dolls, and after... here’s my first memory as a „teacher”: I visited my grandmother, and I asked her to let me meet the other children in the street where she lived. I am not sure if after the experience all those children were as enthusiastic as me, because about half an hour later, they found themselves sitting down around me, their new tiny teacher. What a summer holiday they had with me! J
And now I believe, as a primary school teacher, that the first experience of school is really important for children. It could depend on that, if our pupils come to school happily or not. As a primary school teacher, you can have your pupils love or hate school for life.
Luckily, my first teacher was a special one. The first day at school, I was nervously standing in front of the building, then somebody read my name, and I went to meet my future teacher. I remember her reassuring smile, and I remember I liked her from that first moment. We were her first class, she was enthusiastic. We learned, played, and when we were too tired (just imagine, since there were too many children at school, every second week we had our lessons in the afternoon, and we finished very late..) she read fairy tales for us. I liked school, and I wanted to be a teacher because of her.
After this first experience, I met a lot of other teachers. And now sometimes in the classroom, when I tell something to my pupils, I remember and just realize: it’s the same sentence I heard from one of my own teachers one day...
Do you have this experience? In those moments I realize how important it is what we tell our students... probably at the moment they are just words, but children won’t forget, they memorize our smiles, our great and not so great moments in the classroom, and the feeling we have together at school.
This new school year is a special one for me. This is the fourth and last school year together with my first class. I remember how excited I was when I met them for the first time. I had doubts and questions in my mind: Will I be able to help them in their learning? Will they learn to count and read? And... will they like school? Or hate it, because of me?
No matter how experienced you are, you’ll always ask yourself these questions with a new class. They may seem silly questions, at least some of them... but you can’t help it: and after all, they show that you care.
Through the years, I’ve developed some simple rules that can help you grow in your students from the very first moment the love and pleasure of learning (and some no-nos as well!):
1. be yourself - in the long run, you can’t act a role every single day at school. So, don’t try to be the “model teacher” you have in your mind, but just be the teacher who you are
2. be consistent - the worst teacher is the unpredictable teacher. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Respect deadlines if you want your students to respect them. Pay attention to them if you want them to pay attention to you
3. don’t be bossy - that’s how it goes: you’re bossy – they are scared of you – they hate you – they hate school (and will, forever, unless another teacher manages to change things!). Bossy teachers are a shame for school and for themselves. Who can really believe we can teach through fear?
4. reassure & reward your pupils – tell them they will improve when they fail, and tell them how good they are when they succeed. Be proud of their little successes and they will be proud of themselves
5. love the subjects you teach, and love teaching – in time, they’ll hopefully grow to love learning.
At the end of this post I would like to share with you one of my first memories with my class.
We were at the beginning of the school year, and our first eTwinning project.
Our task was to prepare a poster about peace. I asked my colleague to draw a big dove to represent our team (I am not good at drawing, and probably my dove could be similar to Nessie J). After, I planned to go on creating a mosaic with children. My colleague helped me. She arrived with a very big dove.
But the dove wasn’t too convincing I guess, since as soon as she left, my pupils started asking: what is this?
„Well, it could be an eagle” one kid said.
„Yes, maybe it’s a bit big, you are right, but it’s a dove.” I said.
„Or it could be a big duck.” Another kid replied.
They all went on guessing, when a little boy looked at the drawing, pointed to me and told the others:
„If she says it’s a dove, then it is a dove!”
No more questions.
I laughed a lot, but I was so happy, because I felt they trusted me. My pupils’ confidence is a treasure for me.
And who knows? Maybe some of them dream to be a teacher…
I wish you all a great school year, great moments together with your pupils (and with us!)