Two weeks ago I ended my tenure as a teacher of Geography at my old high school. That’s right. For three months, starting in January, I walked the grounds of my alma mater in a position I had never in my wildest dreams imagined. I must admit that I was more than a little trepidated to fill the position after being given about a day’s notice, so, of course, I was feeling less than a little confident to teach my first class. But, opportunity knocked and I doubted it would knock twice. However much I doubted myself, I must say thanks to my truly amazing family members and friends who had genuine confidence in me because it was their words of encouragement that allowed me to put on a brave face (though shaking inside), act composed, go through my meeting with the principal, go through my first day and finally go through all three months! And I don’t think I did a bad job at all either :).
It was my first time officially being on the other side of the education fence and I must admit it took quite a bit of adjustment, considering the fact that for seven years I walked those same corridors, went to the same classrooms and spoke to some of the same teachers, as a student.
The experience taught me a lot about the life of a teacher and it taught me a lot about myself… The latter is what I wish to talk about now.
What Teaching Taught Me About Myself
1. I like teaching.
Take away the lesson plans, the grading of tests and assignments, and the disruptive students and teaching is actually quite cool. I was fortunate to have the majority of students being well-behaved and mannerly and it was a joy to talk to them on a daily basis, to explain to them various geographical (and life) concepts, to share experiences, and to see the look of enlightenment on their faces. I think I would endure the not-so-nice aspects just for that.
2. I learn better now than I did in the past.
Many of the classes I got the opportunity to teach covered the same syllabus that I had to go through as a student years before. In all honesty, even though I passed the subject with flying colours, I never really did understand some of the concepts well. As a teacher, I was compelled to “learn” each topic from all angles so that I could anticipate questions and relate the concepts so that each student, each individual, could actually learn it in their own way.
This lesson does not only apply to teaching but I think this is what brought about the revelation. I now remember books I’ve read, movies I’ve watched, things I did, that I didn’t really fully comprehend back then but I now do.
3. I’m still unsure of what I want to do with my life.
I’m one confused child. I’ve had three jobs since I left university, one of which is completely unrelated to the others. I cannot say that I have loved any so much so that I’d be content to do it for the rest of my life but then are we all really supposed to love our jobs? Was what Confucius said really to be taken logically? Sometimes I doubt it. I must admit though, that I now have at least an idea where I want to steer myself. Not a clear-cut idea but at least it’s a start compared to where I was before. Besides, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” and maybe, just maybe, I may have found where to place my foot to make the first step.
4. I’m not yet an adult.
The records will show that I am quite a little way over the 21 year old mark but somehow I don’t feel as grown up as I think I should be. Physically, yes, but otherwise, no. I mean, when I was in high school and even at university, I had an idea of how my life should be at this age. I am not even anywhere near that script! I don’t feel like a responsible adult, I relate more to younger people than I do to adults, I still live with my parents, I don’t have a job, I have no significant other, I have no children… Aren’t these things a part of what define adulthood? At least I have my driver’s licence. And I have voted. Twice. I guess I’m not that far off after all… I’m getting there.
5. My next relationship has got to be serious.
Yes, I know I just said I’m not yet an adult but that will change soon. I hope. And when it does, I do not expect to be playing games like some teenager. No, I don’t expect that my next relationship will result in me getting married and having children. I’m just saying that the prospective boyfriend must be
tall, dark, rich, and handsome, *ahem*, responsible, considerate, mature, etc. enough to at least consider a long term relationship. It may not work out (and I am perfectly fine with that thought) but I’m just saying the flings, the fooling around, the “sports fishing”… those will be things of the past. So I’ll lose out on the excitement, you say? No way, because he will also be terrific and amazing enough to keep me excited.
6. I’m actually capable of doing whatever I set out to do.
I’ll always doubt myself. I’ll always think I am not good enough but this experience has actually made me more confident in myself and has allowed me to believe that I can do whatever it is I really want to do. Fear has kept many of my dreams at bay but now I am beginning to look at things in a new light.
Teaching has taught me a lot about myself and life in general. I cannot write about all the lessons I learnt. I can, however, say that it is one experience I do not, in any way, regret. I’d do it again.