I will never regret my time as a teacher, regardless of the obstacles and frustrations that came with it. Thinking back, I know it was meant to be a part of my life’s journey and being a teacher, made me a student of life.
When you open your mind and heart to kids, it’s impossible to not learn from them and see the world with new eyes. So, here are the top five lessons I learned while being a teacher:
LESSON #1 TRYING NEW THINGS KEEP YOU INSPIRED
When 36 kids sit in front of you, it’s unrealistic to expect the same results from all of them when you teach one certain way. Each of them is an individual with different strengths and weaknesses, and it was important for me to try and cater to all their needs.
Trying to cater for 36 different needs meant that I needed to be ready to shake things up on a regular basis. Sometimes it went smooth-sailing and other times I felt like a circus clown waiting to be shot from a cannon, while hoping that I won’t die.
Although there were many days when I wondered what I was doing, I now know, that by putting myself out there and trying new things, I did myself a favour. It taught me: living out of your comfort zone now and again, will keep you inspired and motivated. It is the only way to learn and grow into the person that you’re meant to be.
LESSON #2 BE HAPPY WITH THE LITTLE SUCCESSES
The reality is, not every kid is going to be an A-student. Yes, I said it and as harsh as it may seem to some of you, it’s the truth. But it doesn’t mean you don’t have anything to celebrate.
Even when that one kid – who comes dangerously close to failing in most of the tests – gets full marks on an easy class test, it’s worth celebrating. More often than not, we are so focussed on reaching for the stars, we miss seeing the beautiful clouds just beneath it.
Even when you don’t have a grasp on the perfect career yet, you can still consider yourself as successful. Every win, big or small, matters and helps shape you into the person that you are.
LESSON #3 NOT EVERYONE IS GOING TO LIKE YOU
You can be one of the best teachers that have ever lived and there will still be one student that hates your guts. And it’s not fair, but that’s just how life is.
As much as we want to be liked by everyone, at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. Who you truly are is not defined by your popularity. But I do believe it’s defined by how you treat others, especially those who don’t like you. Let’s be honest: did I like every kid that ever set foot in my class? No. But they still deserved to be treated with respect, whether I thought they deserved it or not.
In a world with such diversity, it’s impossible to like everyone and everyone isn’t going to like you. And that’s okay.
LESSON #4 PAUSE AND THINK BEFORE YOU REACT
There will always be more to a story than we realise. Just like there was more than one reason why a kid would talk back to me, other than “being rude” or “naughty”. His parents were maybe getting divorced, or his family was struggling financially.
The fact is, we live in a broken world where everyone is fighting their own battle. So before you start kicking and screaming, try and see the bigger picture. And I’m not saying that you should let everyone get a free pass. I’m saying we should be sensitive to what we say. Don’t confuse rudeness with freedom of speech.
Think before you react because being kind goes a long way.
LESSON #5 MISTAKES ARE ALLOWED
Till this day, I still try to get everything right the first time round. So many times I tried to achieve perfection – which doesn’t exist – and these unrealistic expectations only set me up for disappointment.
The truth about mistakes is that it sets you on the path to learning and growing. Being able to make mistakes shows that you’re willing to learn. And how could I expect my students to learn from their mistakes if they weren’t allowed to make them? Besides, if you keep your sense of humour intact, mistakes make great (and funny) stories to tell in the future.