Why did I enter teaching? Honestly, I never see myself as a teacher. Never did it enter my mind to pursue such career. From my schooling, teaching is a tough job, not a rewarding career. It is more of a sacrifice than a profitable work. I see teaching as a calling for those who are called to service, without expecting reward. In short, a vocation reserve for the ‘missionaries at heart. ‘
My mother is a teacher. Most of our elders who are leaders in our tribe were teachers. Those who were looked up to in our society were teachers, before other professions came. So, to be a teacher is regarded as being in a noble profession. Sadly, to our generation now, an education degree is reserve to those who did not qualify to medical, law, engineering, or other in-demand courses. That being said, I pursued an engineering degree, hoping for a better career path.
So, how did I end up being a teacher? I guess it was a blessing in disguise! In support of my husband, and being committed to rearing our children, I resign from work and became a full time homemaker. During my free time, I enrolled in online courses about Young Children’s Development and Teaching for Learning. I came to realize that teaching and learning, regardless of your profession, is inevitable. With that, I say that I am now a lifelong learner, not just for myself, or for my family, but for my community as well. Then an opportunity to teach at my child’s school came. One teacher has to exit and an immediate replacement was needed. Because of my involvement with the school, I was asked to have a teaching demo and alas, I passed the screening and accepted as pre-school teacher.
The first two weeks of teaching was traumatic. For two times, I cried and walk out in frustrations. I was about to resign, but I am not a quitter, I am a fighter and I tried to remind myself that this is but a challenge, not to give up but to get better. How can these cute and adorable kindergartners dampen my spirits? Why did they become hindrance to my new career path? This is not my expectation! Then it hits me, I am in a multi-cultural setting. I am an Asian, teaching a class of Arabs children. Don’t get me wrong, I am not bias but as to my personal observation and experience, I think Asian students behave more properly in class. And so I made a personal commitment to learn and understand these children, to know more about their cultures and traditions, to ask them their likes and dislikes, observe their behaviours and how they interact, what approaches to better communicate with them, and most important is to be sensitive to their needs for learning.
And so, I manage to survive my first semester of teaching with kindergartners. I can say that this experience taught me a lot about myself. Firstly, as a teacher, I learned to be organizing with both my lessons and classroom; I learned to be creative and more communicative; and I learned to be learner-centered in my teaching approaches. Secondly, as a colleague, I try to be as helpful as possible, volunteering my service if given the chance because I believe that this is a way of learning from those who are way ahead into teaching. And lastly, as a learner, I can say that I have learned a lot, but I still have a long way to go. Learning is a lifelong commitment now.
In conclusion, our own professional development is our obligation. We have to realize that learning is a continuing process, and that it is a never ending process. We must seek to find opportunities for learning, not just for ourselves but for our colleagues as well. Besides, it is more fun and more productive to learn when we share with or learn together with others. As the old adage says, “more minds think well than one.”
Note: I wrote this in Sept 9, 2015 as a requirement in one of my Coursera course.