The teacher plays an important role in the lives of every student. In a year, a teacher gets to spend 180-210 days (depending on the country) with their students making the school their second home. We, teachers, become the second parent to our students in nurturing and educating the learners. Thus, our role shapes a big portion of every student’s life and being.
When I was a student, I thought that the teacher’s job was as easy as just giving quizzes and tests, writing on the board, thinking about what grades to give the students, and just supervising activities and school events. And sometimes being one of the top students makes me think that I am better than my teacher. I was wrong! It’s not just about the knowledge but the experience and wisdom that goes with it. The Bible says in Luke 6:40 “The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.”
Being in education made me realize all the sacrifices of my teachers when I was a student. They could have given up on me or my classmates for all the differences and challenges in teaching. But they did not do it because they loved us like their own child. The real battle in teaching happens in the classroom. Every teacher has their own stories and fights in the teaching world. Some chose to keep going and some chose to give up and pursue a different career.
I’d like to share some of the challenges that I encountered as a teacher in my 12 years of teaching both locally and internationally. Others are from testimonies and feedback from YCS teachers.
1. Classroom Management
Dealing with different personalities is one of the major challenges in the classroom. Students come from different backgrounds, beliefs, and cultures. The different personalities affect the class and our role as teachers is to break the walls of differences to unite everyone for a single goal of learning.
Managing a classroom is not an easy task. Discipline plays a very important role in it and we need the support of the parents in order to maintain discipline and order in class. Starting off the school year with firm rules and boundaries helps students to understand expectations and to better conform to the classroom rules.
2. Teacher expectations
It is important to remember that as students move between classrooms and change teachers that, just like students, teachers have different personalities and styles. Comparing one teacher to another is a natural reaction at times, but it is important to remember that as children move to higher grades the expectations in the classroom will be different. Every teacher is as unique as each student in the class they teach.
3. Lesson Planning & Grading
Lesson planning is at the heart of teaching. Teachers take information from textbooks, add research, and outside information to construct interactive and interesting lessons for students. The process of preparing for each class allows the teacher to have a step-by-step approach to the subjects and really be able to inspire students to engage with material. Teachers are teaching an average of 25 subjects a week. Another major part of teaching is grading.
Grading is a major part of the teaching process. Whether teachers are reviewing and grading assignments, tests and quizzes or finalizing progress reports or report cards, grading is an important part of the job. Many teachers use their own time after hours to complete these tasks, especially in the early years of teaching. In international schools in particular, the grading process may be more difficult because teachers, students and parents may have very different assumptions and expectations for grades.
4. Work-Life Balance
For most teachers, teaching is a vocation and not just a job. As such, teachers often work after hours to be prepared and ready for class. Work-life balance can sometimes be difficult, especially for teachers with families of their own. They “turn off” their teacher brain to spend time with their families, but after their own children are in bed they often spend time in the evenings on work. If teachers put boundaries on when they can return correspondences or answer questions after hours, it is a way to help maintain balance and not dismissing concerns.
5. Professional Development
Most teachers spend their school holidays learning new ways and strategies in teaching. We attend seminars either in person or online to keep up with the new trends in education. We learn new strategies to address different students’ needs every school year. Upgrading skills is a must in teaching since students are diverse and methods always changing. Not all strategies work for all students. Professional development also helps teachers maintain and renew their teaching credentials, which is essential at YCS.
To end this blog, I would like to share some insights from members of the YCS teaching staff:
What is a teacher? Who is a teacher?
A teacher is someone who genuinely cares and looks at the growth of each student and thinks of ways each individual can grow and benefit in their time in the classroom in preparation to enter the world of society. The goal is always to see what they can do, and look at what we can do as teachers to push or stretch them a little further until they gain a new skill or asset. Being a teacher is a very privileged position as we get to watch the students transform and become responsible human beings. It never gets old.
A teacher is a beautiful gift given by God because God is a creator of the whole world and a teacher is a facilitator for developing next generation leaders in a diverse environment.
A teacher never underestimates his/her students. He/She strongly believes that every child has its own potential to prove.
A teacher is next to a parent and sometimes behaves equal to our parents, some teach for profession while some teach with passion.
For me teachers are the one whose occupation is to teach and to give instructions. A good teacher must be a good educator who teaches values and gives intellectual, moral and social instructions. He/she is a person who is willing to be his/her student’s guardian, adviser, sometimes a therapist/psychologist or just a simple listener.
A teacher is someone who imparts knowledge, passion, and motivation to his students. He prepares a child to mature into a well functioning member of society. A teacher is caring, passionate, thorough, flexible, and influential.
What are your challenges as a teacher/assistant teacher?
My biggest challenge comes when all my knowledge and skills based on my experiences don’t seem to be working and I can’t think of the next step I can take. I thank God for the challenge I face knowing there’s still room for me to grow, but I also cry out for wisdom, guidance and comfort.
No. 1 challenge for me is dealing with children/students who have challenging behaviors that hinder them to learn not just academically but to be a good learner. I always focus on how to correct their behaviors and how to discipline them positively.