What being a teacher has taught me

I’ve been teaching for more than 10 years and it’s something I still enjoy doing. One of the good things about being a teacher is not that you’re just teaching others, but they will teach you something as well. It’s through the sometimes dead honest and sincere questions and remarks of your students that you will learn a lot. Not just about doing your job, but about life, the world and anything in between.

Teachers don’t just teach…

In case you didn’t know I teach English in higher education. However, previously I also worked as a secondary school teacher and at a teacher of Dutch as a Foreign language. I have taught ages 12 till 60+ and each group of students I taught have taught me something new. The reason why you may be unawares of my day job is because I hardly post about it online. For several very good reasons, but that would be another blog post.

Take time to unwind – Fellow teachers will recognize this: after a class, especially after a few back to back classes you are stuck with lots of energy. Almost like you drank a gallon of energy drink. I truly become the energize bunny after teaching and that can be a good thing. However, if I need to go go go for the rest of the day as well, I find myself not being able to sleep at night. So I always try to have a real, actual break from work, even if it is just 5 minutes, just to come down from that teaching high.

1 Course, a bazillion different lessons – One thing I found the most fascinating about teaching is how, even though the materials you teach and the work forms you choose are the same, depending on the group dynamics and the individual personalities of your students, your class will be completely different. Never a dull moment! But that also makes teaching unpredictable and tough sometimes. It means you are constantly on your feet as you are constantly trying to gauge your students’ learning needs.

Not one framework of reference is the same – This ties in with the point above. Since every student is different, with a different backstory and perhaps even a different cultural and linguistic background, teaching becomes a great game of not only explaining and answering questions. To truly help students you need to find a way to tap into their conscience and get close to their framework of reference. If you figure out what makes a student tick (so to speak), how they view the world, no matter how different that might be from your own, you will still have to try and facilitate them in their learning.

There is no such thing as a stupid question – Raise your hand if you’ve heard this one before! When you’re a teacher, answering questions is like your bread and butter. The reason why students ask questions (or worse: don’t ask them) will vary. From trying to dig deeper and knowing more, to simply fact checking to make sure they understand something or maybe even just to see how you will handle the question.

Let your students teach you – In the olden days, teachers were the kings and queens of their classrooms. They were a beacon of all knowledge and therefore indisputable and never wrong. However, one major aspect of teaching is that your students, through their questions and comments will be able to teach you as well. By challenging their knowledge and making them ponder and wonder about the world, they will inadvertently toss the ball back in your court.

What has your job taught you?

4 responses to “What being a teacher has taught me”

  1. Ik zie het aan mijn jongere broer, die is nu gymleraar en ik vind zijn verhalen hierover altijd erg leuk om te horen. Geeneen dag is hetzelfde! Zo plaatste mijn dochters de familiefoto van ons weekendje weg op Instagram en zij kregen reacties met: “hé dat is meester Stolk! Onze leraar!”, hihi mijn kleine broertje. Ik heb altijd in winkels gewerkt ( voornamelijk ), en ik vond het heerlijk om met mensen te werken. Mensen te adviseren, praatje te maken etc. Dit heeft mij een stuk socialer gemaakt.

    • Met mensen werken is altijd tof. Ik probeer mijn werk en blog/ prive wel zoveel mogelijk gescheiden te houden. Lukt niet helemaal, omdat ik mijn blog ook als voorbeeld in 1 van mijn lessen gebruik, maar de meeste studenten vinden het heel leuk.

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