16 September 2010

Teaching -- What Makes it Worthwhile...

This is just a short personal reflection.

I am writing it partly as a means of refocusing on why I want to be a teacher. Doing an accelerated Masters program while trying to juggle the processes of surviving life often leaves me tired and somewhat bitter, twisted and jaded. These things are often exacerbated by organisational bureaucracy and dealing with people who seem intent on making things more difficult than they need to be. So, to all intents and purposes, this is my own little pep rally...Go Rob Baiton, Go!

I tutor a couple of kids in addition to trying to juggle everything else. I do this for a number of reasons; putting it all into practice and to see whether I really have the skills and patience necessary to make this teaching gig work. It is one of these kids that sort of re-grounded me and showed me why I want to do this teaching thing for a crust.

What makes teaching really rewarding for me is that "lights on" moment where someone that you have taught finally sees all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place and the light goes on. This is almost always followed by a smile and an exclamation of surprise, "I can do it!" I had three of those moments in one day today; a young bloke in Year 6, a young girl in Year 8, and a soon to be doing the HSC lad. Each are studying different subjects, which is a challenge for me, but this is not about me.

It might have just been a fluke of coincidence, but each of them today had a "lights on" moment where they realised that they can actually do the work, and do it well. In most respects, all I do is help them visualise the pieces of the puzzle and facilitate in getting the pieces into the right spots. It is nice, and it feels good, to watch children understand that they can be successful and grow into that new-found confidence.

It is for these moments that I want to pursue a career in teaching. I am not naive enough to think that I will have them every day, but if I can have more lights on days than lights off days throughout the course of my career then I will be a happy teacher. I must add that the disillusionment I was feeling with my course quickly dissipated.

This sort of got me thinking. I did a lot of teaching while I was living in Indonesia. I worked with, and taught, many wonderful young women and men (and some older ones too) who have gone on to achieve excellent and wonderful things in all manner of fields of endeavour. I hope they remember me as fondly as I remember them (particularly because when they become famous I will be forever telling the story..."I remember when ..."). It was these experiences that drove me towards returning to Australia and formalising some teaching qualifications to make it all academic looking.

Onwards and upwards, I say!


therry said...

You explain the good things about being a teacher much better than I do! It is a very beautiful moment when the students are able to see the lights and put the pieces together, as you say!

Rob Baiton said...

@ Therry...

It certainly has its moments, the teaching profession that is ;)

Sometimes, it is just a relief that finally after all that to and fro-ing the student(s) get it (whatever "it" might be).

So, how is the penny collecting going?

Anonymous said...

I have cut out this blog and put it on the meeting room wall at our educational institution. I hope it reminds some of my colleagues of the passion that is available to teachers

Anonymous said...

I see that UNSW is slipping down the leagues table.

by the way it was me!