My inspiration to become a teacher started at a very young age. Continually playing ‘school’ with my two younger siblings I would always insist on being the teacher, never the pupil, much to their discontent. I relished in standing in front of them with my sheet of A4 paper on which was written mathematics calculations (which they had to grasp on how to complete) and coaching them on how to do mathematics like I, their big sister, was able.
As I was nearing the end of primary school and we were discussing out future career desires to place into our yearbook I was still certain that teaching was my goal. At our leaving school assembly my head teacher, who had not actually seen the yearbook, said “Amy will be back here in some years, no doubt, teaching generations to come” I was stunned to realise that she somehow knew that I wanted to teach, however looking back now I have come to the realisation that teaching was all I spoke of, and there were very few people unaware that this was my goal.
As fourth year came we were given the opportunity to do work experience, I jumped at the opportunity to go back to my old primary school. However this was a mistake. All of the teachers still remembered me, I expected this of course, I had only been gone four short years. However they still viewed me as ‘little Amy’ and they could not look past their image of me as a young child, they could not see the capabilities which I had developed over the years. And so, throughout the entire week of my work experience, I sharpened easily 100 pencils, printed numerous worksheets, glued together wall displays and cut up worksheets for the younger children who weren’t quite able. Afterwards I felt like I had wasted a week, but I knew that there was so much more to teaching that I wasn’t given the chance to experience from my former teachers, I felt let down immensely.
In fifth year, for my enrichment periods (one afternoon a week) I decided to stick at work experience, and attended a school at which no-one would have any preconceived ideas of me. I was placed into a primary 2 class, for the entire year. As the teacher became used to my presence within the classroom she realised that I was a capable person and needed ‘real’ experience of teaching. She gave me the responsibility of taking reading groups and performing one-on-one private lessons with students who were perhaps struggling with some of their subjects, in particular mathematics. I felt just like my younger self again teaching my siblings maths in my bedroom.
After school finished one day, the teacher and myself were talking about the lesson plan for next week. She then told me of her hatred for art and lack of passion for the subject, and that she had to teach it the day after to the children. I explained to her my love of art and how I would be more than willing to help her out with these lessons. And so, we moved around the timetable for the class so that art fell into the time at which I would be in the classroom. I performed many art lessons, and often tied them into their learning topics of space and ancient Egypt. We made 3d planets, aliens and many more. As the year progressed we began looking at the seasons through art. We went outside to collect leaves with intricate patterns and then printed them using autumnal coloured paint.
This time around work experience did not deter me from become a teacher but rather the opposite, it fueled my passion even more so.
In sixth year I was given the chance to do one final week of work experience. When I arrived at the school I straight away informed the teacher of my capabilities and that I could be used as an asset to her class throughout the week. After explaining my art lessons in my previous school she too allowed me to teach the children art, as well as some French due to my basic understanding.
The children’s feedback form my art lessons was astounding. They loved them and were entirely unaware, until reflection, that they were learning whilst having fun and enjoying themselves. This has made me have a passion for teaching in a non-conventional style, through art in this case. This brings out creativity as well as teaching about culture. The most rewarding thing I feel from art lessons is the joy seen on children’s faces, whilst they are learning. They are not sat silently writing in a jotter, or filling out a worksheet. They are communication, sharing, creating and most importantly building on their social skills.
I want to be the kind of teacher who does not disregard fun within a classroom, I want to see joy on faces while I am teaching, and I feel this must be done by teaching in a non-conventional way. Bringing new techniques into the classroom in order to learn in a fun way. There are many more ideas I have on how to make learning fun:
- Teaching fractions through measurements in baking
- Acting out imaginative stories as plays performed to the class, not just writing them
- Turning topic time into an interactive game where the children become characters from the past
I also believe that children should have an input into how the want to learn about specific things. If a child thinks that learning about mathematics through music and song will help them understand better, then the class will be up and singing about multiplication banging on a tambourine and strumming a guitar, because I feel this is important to the learning and development of a child.
Sometimes, yes, children will just have to sit and write, but it’s what happens thereafter with what they have learned which is important. Who says handwriting must be done solely in a jotter, once they have mastered the techniques what is stopping them from writing outside on the ground with some chalk? Nothing!