With three weeks and counting left before I have to submit my final assignment for University, I feel that I’ve come a long way since starting out last September, both in relation to learning about the ins and outs of teaching and of course actually standing in front of a class and teaching.
For my first teaching placement I spent seven weeks at a local public school, after which I have to admit I was slightly skeptical about my second placement which was to be at the local private school. Being myself from the Irish public school system (although at the time I did not rate it and I’m not sure how it’s changed since I was at school) I was already somewhat prejudiced towards the private system, with what I believed were a number of solid reasons. However, after having spent six weeks teaching and working at the private school, my views have changed considerably. Yes, there were elements that I had had preconceived ideas about which proved to be well founded, however, as a whole the school was great, the students were a delight (most of the time) and the other teachers were not only excellent teachers but also very supportive and inclusive.
I know that I already mentioned in a previous blog my slight trepidation regarding my choice of going into teaching before my first placement, and how I was relieved that I had made the right decision during my time at the school. Well this was only further reinforced during my second placement.
At one point during the six weeks I was asked by the principle and other teachers if I could give a careers talks about my background and experiences both of working and University to the Year 9s and the Year 10s. I assented and spent a half hour on two consecutive Thursdays talking about and answering question regarding my previous experiences. When asked by a student in the Year 9 class whether I thought different types of people were suited to certain jobs, I responded that I did believe this was the case, to which I was further pressed as to whether I believed my personality was right for the fields and jobs I had chosen (journalism and PR), this really made me think. The honest answer that I came up with and responded to the class with, was that no, I don’t believe my personality fitted either the field of PR or journalism, but that I had gone outside of my comfort zone and tried and succeeded in both areas, growing with each experience and acquiring new skills. It was only after I said this out load that I realised that standing in front of a class and teaching is the most natural thing for me and it’s the most comfortable I’ve ever felt. Yes, I was terrified at the start and the idea of being unprepared for a class truly frightens me (which is why I don’t believe I’ll ever be unprepared for a lesson) but it feels right and that’s what I told the students.
That’s the great thing (I really despise that word, its such a filler and lazy word) about living in the 21st Century, you don’t have to know and decide what to do with your life straight after finishing school. You can go on to try many different things before you decide or find out what it is you’re supposed to or want to do. It took me a few years, but I learnt so much in the process and had the opportunity to travel at the same time, I’d never take any of it back.
And the most rewarding things about teaching; well it’s when you teach a great lesson, when you inspire students and when they write lovely things about you when asked to feedback on your teaching!