Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I became a teacher because I had excellent relationships with those that taught me in both primary school and high school. Their ability to engage and connect with me made me realize that teaching was what I wanted to do as a career when I had the opportunity to do so. Teachers guided me and counselled me when I was experiencing the typical adolescent dilemmas. They encouraged me to excel and find my passions and interests as I became a young adult. I remember them not for the curriculum they taught me but for the life lessons that they helped me learn.

My philosophy is very much centered on these experiences I had with my teachers as a child. I believe that children continually go through developmental stages in their lives where they need discipline, guidance and support. Teaching is not all about delivering curriculum or information but connecting to engage them to make personal decisions that encourage their own growth and development.

I have learned that initially my methods were authoritarian and controlling. I needed to feel that I was in control of the classroom and all those within it. I did not recognize the complexity of the situation in relation to the different way students responded to my style of teaching. It was my classroom and they would do as I told them. I did achieve outcomes using this style of teaching but was very concerned with those students who were not managing to keep up with the level of information that they were required to learn. I remember a deputy principal saying to me “ Don’t worry about her we’ll just pass her and move her on to the next grade.” This child was having difficulty reading and writing in grade 9. I realized at that point that the outcomes that I was getting were superficial. Was I actually teaching these kids to learn or was I imparting information that they needed only to pass the tests?

My style of teaching began to change as I started to work with high risk children. Using this authoritarian style was not as effective as using it with those children whose behaviour was compliant and socially acceptable. The high risk children needed different methods and it took a few years to figure out that maybe I needed to change my approach rather than expecting them to do all the changing. Evaluating children’s needs using a holistic perspective was required from me so I could understand the underlying motivation and function of their behaviour in relation to their learning.

The number of damaged children that I have encountered has encouraged me to look beyond their “academic marks” and find the things that help them create their own peace in their lives. Fixing them is not my responsibility. The only person that I have the power to fix or change is me. I do not control anyone else but myself. I am still working towards this understanding as I know there are some days and some people who I would love to control to get them to do what I want them to. I now know that this will only increase my stress levels and make me unhealthy.

Teaching our children that they have the power to make their own decisions and solve their own problems, I believe, will create children who feel powerful within themselves and hopefully not have to feel powerful over others. Those that feel powerful within tend to help others because they want to share their positive feelings. People who are negative and unhappy want you to feel the same way as well so they try to get you in the same frame of mind as them. (Power over you) Children that are able to understand that they control themselves and can make decisions in relation to others will be far better off as they encounter situations where others are trying to take power from them in negative and hurtful ways.

People who try to be powerful over others are seeking this feeling of happiness and satisfaction but may only receive short term gratification. They may feel happiness and satisfaction as an immediate feeling but will have to continually seek it out from others as they can never retain it (a bit like taking drugs - you need more to maintain the high but never reach the ultimate feeling as you need to keep taking more and more which will ultimately destroy yourself.) We can only retain this feeling if we make the decision within to seek happiness and satisfaction through our own behaviour and interactions with our environment and that others do not have control over how we react. Wouldn't it be great if everyone made the decision to be happy, help and understand others (powerful within) rather than try to be powerful over others.

I know, I know, naive and wishful thinking but I can dream can't I...... I can also teach.....

1 comment:

Dot L said...

It is all about the journey... it is the willingness to know ourselves that allows us to guide others - otherwise it might very well be a case of "the blind leading the blind". We need to be open to change and its affects. I often see teachers who fight that change - but not as many as there use to be. Thank goodness.
Loved reading this piece.

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