I had the most awful maths teacher. She was like a fire-breathing dragon and took pleasure in intimidating me.
She breathed fire on my ineptitude and her anger burnt through the timid offerings of my workbook.
She wielded her pen like a cutlass and my handwriting bore the scars of her ire for many years. If intimidation was her purpose, she succeeded pretty well because I had a fear of maths ever since.
She was every pupil’s nightmare and I retell this with some satisfaction because decades later I still feel relieved that I am out of her clutches!
That period in my life made me realize how important and at the same time how difficult teaching can be as a profession.
The art of communicating
Because let’s face it – teaching should be about communicating which in itself can be very challenging.
Of course the real million dollar secret is knowing how to communicate effectively with each student individually.
So the question is – how can teachers make a better job of engaging with their students on a meaningful level? And in particular, how do they get to know the individual needs of their students?
Teachers often have classes of 30 children and more, so it’s unreasonable to expect them to get to know each student individually.
Years ago, as a young inspired teacher I badly wanted to gain the level of trust and understanding of my pupils.
Unlike my dragon teacher, I knew I would have to find a creative way to get to understand each child on an individual basis.
So I set an essay for them to write as an assignment hoping that in this way they would reveal something about themselves.
I eagerly collected the batch of essays hoping that I would be able to learn more about each pupil individually. But nothing was forthcoming.
They were too crafty for me and either dished up a few unimportant incidents or presented me with some wild imaginings that they had clearly manufactured to give me what they thought I wanted to hear.
It was a complete washout and left me with egg on my face.
And then out of the blue and without warning I had a very strange wakeup call.
It was something that I would remember for the rest of my life.