a blog for teachers who follow the Master Teacher
You’ve finished your training, walked across the stage and picked up your degree. The photos are taken: studio portraits for your family and selfies to share with your friends. What next? Find a job. Get used to teaching and tell yourself that after the first year it’s bound to get easier. Is that really it, for the rest of your life as a teacher?
According to one Master Teacher, we go on growing as certain things happen. Plants grow when they are watered. Children thrive when they are fed and loved. What about teachers? Do they stop growing professionally once they learn how to manage students and how to prepare tomorrow’s lessons in less than three hours every evening? The exciting answer is NO.
That same Master Teacher talks about various types of growth. One of these is in the way we love one another. Eavesdrop on a conversation between teachers on their lunch break, and you will find out which of them are growing in their love for the students in front of them. Listen in particular to the older teachers. Have they grown more loving toward their students or more impatient as the years go by? Why? Not all students are immediately lovable. Quite the opposite. Think of someone who irritates you as soon as you set eyes on him or her in the room. You are almost waiting for that person to take the first wrong step, at which point you will swing into action with your favorite form of discipline. Student misbehavior doesn’t change from year to year but fortunately some teachers do. They are the professionals who choose to grow.
Another way we grow is in knowledge. What would you like to know more about? Is it something tangible like developments in technology or something more abstract such as wisdom? So how does growth happen? One way is by making an effort. Attend a course; observe teachers you admire; ask someone to come and watch you teaching and make suggestions about changes. Form a support group of your colleagues who are also interested in professional growth. At your meetings invite everyone to report on something they have read. Some of the reading will be from professional books and journals; some may be from some quite different inspirational sources which are important to you. Learn how to learn from masters.
The Master Teacher also speaks of people who go on drinking baby liquids when they should be onto the next stage of nourishment. Perhaps you are ready to be a source of growth for others. Teachers do this in many ways. They do research projects and turn the results into journal articles for others to learn from. They even write books or contribute to books edited by others. They offer to speak or run workshops at meetings and conferences. Once they start doing this they often say that in supporting others they find they have grown themselves.
When you eavesdropped on the teachers’ staffroom conversations mentioned earlier, which were the people who, towards the end of their working lives, inspired you most? If it was those who had grown in knowledge, skills and love for their students, take a step towards your own professional growth. Decide whom you would most like to imitate and learn more about that person.
After retiring from her position as Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland, Marilyn Lewis has continued using her gifts for glory. She has trained teachers in various locations throughout Asia including Vietnam, India, and China. She continues to add to a long list of publications by sharing her expertise with various co-authors around the globe. And she fulfills the role of auntie extraordinaire with young relatives.