Thursday, June 4, 2009

Under the influence

No not under that influence...
We had a chat today in class about 'influences' that may have caused people to make some major decisions in life. This lead me to give an example from my own life experience. Mmmm what to tell and what to leave out...
I chose to share with my class about influences that lead me into teaching. Now I've heard some very sad stories which have prompted people to become teachers - as in 'I had the worst teacher...and I became detemind that I could do a better job'...Well for me it's more than one thing that lead me to teaching.

First off - as a bilingual child of the 80's, attending Grey Lynn Primary School - it seemed in all my classes I would have a child from Samoa who could not speak a word of english. I became the self appointed interpreter for these students. Without getting too emotional - I quite like the fact that I acted as a bridge at time for these students. I was blessed in that all these students were kind to me and I suppose I could say in reflection they certainly 'had my back' if ever needed. The idea of me being a 'teacher' for the Hamo's I was becoming pretty good at. So that was my Primary Teaching Career underway...

I was schooled up to 3rd form in Auckland central before moving out to Mangere. Here I was taught English by a very good teacher. He wasn't too much of the emotional sort but very professional as in - he taught us well. We were what they called the 'top class' so instead of the cool baggy basketball short wearing boys, we had the guys with tight shorts and uncool socks and sneakers who enjoyed nothing more than comparing their calculus and statistics homework. This English teacher of ours did his job well, so well in that he influenced me to become a teacher. I liked what he did with us to help us succeed. Plus the minor fact that it was the only subject I enjoyed and would pass well...

Now that I am a teacher I begin to wonder about this teacher of mine, back in Mangere - was he one of the few teachers that was truly professional in his dealings with students? Does he stand out for me because he treated us like students who were capable of moving into successful tertiary studies and further into careers? So does this mean others were likely unprofessional in their attempts to teach and lead students to success? The Power of Influence...

Having gone through Teachers Training College and University, now a teacher...it sounds sad but it's the experiences of my life as a child in school that I draw upon mostly to guide me in my career as a teacher today. This plus the experiences of teachers that I have and continue to work with. That's the power of influence...we as teachers are in powerful positions of influence aren't we?! How are we influencing the children in our care? What's influenced you to become a teacher? Tell us your story.

2 comments:

Manaiakalani said...

That's a lot of ground you have covered there Mrs T! Very well said. I think it is pretty common in teaching AND in parenting that it is too easy to slip back into the comfortable old slippers of how the adults in our school years lead/taught/parented us. Particularly when we are under stress. Nothing worse than realising that I am chanelling my Mum or that grumpy old teacher on a bad day :(
But as you have said, the outstanding teachers in our lives have lasting influence. I was lucky enough to have an inspirational French teacher for the final 3 years of my time at Te Aroha College. She was so good at teaching and sharing her passion for the subject that, although I went on to do French in my degree, I knew that I must never become a French teacher unless I could do it with the same flair and joie de vivre. So I didn't! But it did inspire me to become a teacher in other subject areas.
It is really sad to hear teacher trainees talking about going to Teacher's College because 'I don't really know what else to do' or 'I'm going to give it a go to see if I like it'. We can guess who they will start acting like when things get tough in the classroom...

Mrs L said...

Talofa Mrs T

For me teaching started off as a means to an end. It seemed like the logical career choice after having children. I thought that it would 'fit nicely' with my lifestyle. I could work close to home and spend time with the kids in the holidays. Plus I could make use of a degree that seemed pretty useless at the time. I'm ashamed to say that I was one of 'those' people who saw it as an easy option.

When I actually got into teaching my view about it changed. Thats when I started to really reflect on the influences that shaped me as a person and teacher and how it would affect that way I teach. I realised how lucky I was to have some pretty amazing teachers when I was growing up. My mum was definately the single biggest influence in the early years. I forgot that I was an ESOL student from the age of 5 to about 7 or 8.(I had lived with my grandmother prior to this).

I quickly realised that you really have to be passionate about teaching and committed to making a difference if you want to make an impact on children's lives. Being around other hard working teachers helped inspire me to be a better teacher. I never realised how much I would have to sacrifice and how much of myself I would have to pour into the job. The 'easy option' has become such an important part of my life that its hard to imagine what life would be like if I found another career. I feel like I'm continually learning and that the journey is only still beginning.

Anyway, cool blog. I hope you continue to inspire all you teach.