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The Teacher’s Diary: How teaching taught me lessons

It is not often people understand the fact that getting a degree, finding a job, and building a future does not mean you have the answers to all the questions. It is plainly logical to me that a person is alive only if he learned a bit every day.

In my early education years, once I figured I would irrevocably become a teacher, I came across a quote I really liked and used in my final project:
“He who dares to teach must never cease to learn.” ~ Richard Henry Dann.
Although this may seem odd to you, I never fully understood this until I became a teacher.
The fact that each year, a student(or many) will help you become a better teacher is not an illusion, it’s a fact. There is only one condition for this to work though: you must let them..
Over time, I noticed how stubborn and unyielding teachers may become; they would get “used” to teaching in “their way” so much that they will think it is THE way to teach.. they would even try to convince you to try it, after all it did “work” for them for so many years.. it must be the “right” way..
Teacher all over the world, my message to you (and me ) would be this: Never forget that teaching involves two sides, and to be stuck on your side for so long will compromise your ability to inspire.. isn’t that why we teach in the first place? Inspire?

This year was full of challenges, both on the personal and professional levels, but the most exceptional thing happened: I  learnt a few valuable lessons from my students that made it worth while..

I learnt how much my country is important to me, even when i try to deny it, even when i hate it, even when i wish i can leave it… I learnt that from a little grade 6 amazing girl who was syrian and who left school. She said to me before school ended: “You are supposed to endure the bad things in your country. Because it is yours, you are lucky to be home!” I felt humbled and took what she said, carved it into my heart, so that I can always rely on it whenever my country depresses me.. Thank you sweet Mona!

I learnt compassion is ageless.. at a time where my mom was struggling with a respiratory disease that kept her away from us ( and caused my absence from school at times) I was surprised with the reaction of a grade 7 student, who kept asking every day, until one day he told me: “I pray that your mom goes home soon, I can’t imagine my home without mom!” I felt human, and once again humbled by the sweet prayer: it meant so much to the tired, overworked, overdepressed teacher i was back then. I really appreciate it Rachid!

I learnt I am more than just a teacher, to some students I was an example! Students are smarter than you think (beware!) And every once in a while, you’d be surprised by a student who will stand up to you and say: “if that was true, why don’t you do it?” You would feel ashamed because you dared preach what you are not in fact applying.. for that lesson, I am grateful to you Majd..

My discovery of the year is finally this: I am in debt to all of my students, because they helped me become a better teacher- and a better person. As a matter of fact, I highly have a single doubt anymore that teaching is a one way highstreet.. it actually goes both ways!

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The Teacher’s Diary: My Personal Experiment- Mr. Quiz

Are you afraid of tests? Student psychology courses always imply that the evaluation method and the “idea” of a test are much more difficult to accept than the test itself. Students of all levels suffer from a type of anxiety which affects their performance and consequently, their results. This is always a disappointment for students, as well as their parents, especially when they have worked so hard studying at home.

Many solutions come to mind, starting from changing the class environment to questioning the need for evaluation in the first place.

Now, from a teacher’s point of view, continuous evaluation is essential in order to follow the progress of a student and identify what was acquired and what still needs work.

As a teacher, I always search for new ways to improve myself and help my students along their long journey of learning. I have tried the following approach to combat test anxiety in all of my classes and I like its effects.

The idea is to make the quiz approachable. I started drawing a happy face inside my Qs when I write the word Quiz on the board. I call it Mr. Quiz.

Mr. Quiz

Students were surprised at first, but genuinely smiled and liked the idea. Soon enough, student started using their Mr. Quiz to express their own thoughts, opinions and fears in a very simple and eloquent way.

during a quiz

That definitely helped. You can see the student writing with a smile on his face. The “shock” of a quiz is balanced with simple humor and the basic drawing of a smile.

quizzzz

I will not be over enthusiastic and say that the outcome was perfect. There are always students who are uninterested with the happy face, simply because they do not fear tests. Others will still fail because they do not study at home.

But I am sure of this: students who used to fear quizzes now wait in anticipation for Mr. Quiz. I draw different smiles each time; sometimes a hat, other times a mustache. This always draws a smile on their faces before they begin answering questions.

It is my belief that a teacher’s job is to aid, support and encourage students to become the best they can be. Thanks to my simple Mr. Quiz, I believe I have made a tiny contribution to minimize the fear of tests inside my class. After all, who can resist a smile?

The Teacher’s Diary: Teacher’s Day 2013

I love teaching. I love my students. Every one of them! Even the ones I hate, I love! It’s a burden, but it’s true.

Each year, it’s a sense of loss I feel when I say goodbye to my class; and each year, I feel am losing a very important part of me!

I have a theory you see: I am positive that students can sense when they are loved. They respond to that, and the outcome is always amazing!

You feel the sense of accomplishment and triumph each time you play even the tiniest role in modeling a student’s mind and personality, because you know that even as the student is growing up and forgetting about you, he still has that part you gave him, that part of you.

This year’s gifts were sweet, all of them. But there’s always those precious ones that still make me smile whenever I think about them; not the gifts themselves, but the sweet words that went with them:

The note from a grade 5 student, was so sweet it almost made me cry (well my eyes did water up a bit!). He sweetly explained to me how much he loves me, using the terms he had learned in class this year.

Another made me laugh hard (it still does) because it was from a student in grade 8 (unusual I know) who tried to be a poet and said that joy enters his class whenever I did!!!

There’s that girl who wrote me a not saying she loves me as her mother and it feels great! even though she would grow and forget, even though she will not remember my name: I touched her soul!

A card and a small gesture meant the world to me and it came from two people I didn’t even teach!!

I am grateful, proud and happy. I am satisfied. I must have been doing something right to deserve this and it feels great!

Thank you!

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