burgeoning

“growing organically in different directions” – was the best way my lecturer described the meaning of this word…

We read an article about a community centre that allowed ‘youth’ who were ‘disadvantaged’ to come and learn about new technologies, in a way that was ‘unstructured’, could build on their confidence and allow them to be active learners. It sounded like a great way to learn and something we as teachers needed to read.

This word stuck out to me because it allowed me to reflect on my life as a learner and a teacher… In fact the whole day or even the whole course has allowed me to do that, it’s just today it took on different meaning.

I believe that I’m pretty fortunate – not to be boastful, it’s the truth and we can’t hide away from that, but I’ve had a pretty damn good education… I’ve had to deal with tough things in my life and in my world they have been huge because it’s what I’ve had to directly deal with but compared to stories I’ve heard, people I’ve known and the children/teens I’ve come across throughout my teaching rounds, generally speaking I’ve had it good and got it good…

Through-out my school life I’ve only ever loathed one teacher – the one who made me feel as though I was dumb (back in Primary School) she made me feel that I couldn’t do anything and I finally made the connection today of the impact that, that has had on me as a person and a learner. My self-esteem was crushed by that and I had this person as a teacher shortly after my parents divorced – which didn’t make matters any better. For a very long time after this I thought that I wasn’t good enough, even when I received Bs and B+s – which aren’t bad grades, it’s just that I thought I couldn’t do better and that I wouldn’t get anywhere… every time I put in all my effort I thought I wasn’t going to do well or that there was no point – that mind-set is horrible…

Luckily though even if it took all the way for me to get uni I finally realised that I can do it and now the majority of my grades are HDs and some of my assignments have even been full marks – my hard work and determination to do well and sometimes even just to do my best is paying off because I allowed myself to stop thinking like that…

The point though that I was trying to make is that we’re constantly talking about what makes us good teachers and I think it really has a lot to do with getting to understand our students… I mean at that point in time of having that teacher my parents had just divorced – I used to walk around with my friends and wouldn’t talk and then had this teacher who expected understanding of a topic straight away…

Plus she was lost in the past because she liked the use of rote learning, the teacher previous to that said that I needed to practice things (eg maths) with concrete learning… A good example of concrete learning came about in my second year the class I was in was learning about change from a dollar – so my mentor set up shops where the children had to sell things e.g books, sports equipment, groceries, fruit/vege, etc and then other students would buy them – so both students would have to learn change from a dollar as a receiver of the change and the giver of change – by learning what added up to a dollar… it’s concrete because they are actually doing it, they are in the action of selling things and counting money. They could then go back and de-brief on what they had just learnt and my mentor made sure they understood what added up to a dollar…

But my teacher at the time was convinced it was ok for students to grasp concepts simply by memorising them and yes sometimes this has its place…but concrete learning gives a complete understanding to a topic and not just the formula – she was a teacher who looked liked she was ready to retire, but still – we have to adapt to the time we live in, etc.

There are many things that I want to be when I’m a teacher or even now as a student teacher and fear that I will turn into one that is like one I haven’t liked for whatever reason… but maybe I need to turn that fear into – I’m going to be like all the ones I loved… and (yes I’m weird…or just lucky) but I have loved or at least liked most of my teachers…

If I could write a letter to those teachers (this is hard because I’m trying to be discrete) it would go something like this:

– To the teacher who allowed us to make numbers out of confetti and then taught me how to spell government with that silent ‘n’.

– To the teacher who made it feel as though maths was fun with “around the world” and believed in my story-writing abilities and who I pretended to dislike when really – you were great. (She also introduced to us peer and self assessment)

– To the teacher who made the classroom feel like we were in Space and who thought I could do anything (when I didn’t.)

– To the teacher who allowed me to love Maths and make me excited to come to your classes (even if now I pray for the students who have to learn Maths from me – it did take me four goes to passthatMaths Test.

-To the teaching who made me feel like giving Drama a go even if I wasn’t going to get the main part…

– To the teacher who made us feel like a family

– To the teacher who never taught me in the classroom but gave me a lot of insights into life e.g the importance of washing hands…

– To the teacher who has always been passionate about women’s education, English/Grammar, poetry, learning in general and has instilled my love of learning and now teaching. – Plus who cared about us as people more than if we did the work, our well-being always came first.

You all got to know me for me, believed in my abilities, was/are passionate, cared about your students as well as the content, made sure we were active learners, never placed labels on us or judged us, integrated learning, etc, etc, etc and are a huge part of why I’m doing what I’m doing…

and have definitely allowed for this “growing organically in different directions” to occur – I wish I could meet with all of you today just to say thank-you and hope to one day teach like you did and I’m sure still do (if you are that is)…

I know that I have the passion and the capabilities it now just has to be put to the test.

Lesson of the day:

Be grateful for what you have instead of looking at what you didn’t get or look at the good in people. Looking at the positive side of things I know is harder but if you do, you’ll feel lighter and less burdened. Being grateful too is just such an amazing feeling… Sometimes also finding the good in someone can make you let go of why you didn’t like them – like another teacher I didn’t like, upon reflection there are a lot things that, that person could have done differently to teach but underneath that all I know that person cares and besides I am the one feeling relieved to let go of a grudge about someone I don’t care about…

We are forever growing…we are forever learning and we are all capable of anything, we just need to believe and put our minds to something.

Signing off because even though I can sleep in tomorrow  but I still want to get some sleep…

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