The First Time I was Called ‘Teacher’

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You can make an educated guess, you can try and compare yourself to others; but you don’t really know what kind of teacher you are until you stand up in front of that first class and say ‘Hello’. It transpires that I’m a happy go-lucky teacher that has, according to an American teacher at my school, got ‘this whole Mary Poppins thing goin’ on’. Now every teacher is different, and that’s the beauty of it. There is no Ikea flatpack build-it-yourself teacher, each teacher is a teacher in their own right, armed with the never ending stacks of syllabus’s, computer software and bounds of enthusiasm. From the moment I walked in my classroom, it felt like home and as the months progress each student feels more familiar; their strengths, weaknesses and funny quirks become clearer and clearer. But sometimes they can drive you up the wall, whether it’s a child who would rather experiment with gravity in the corner, or a child who spills the largest flask of water possible over the activity sheets you have just given them: every moment is a learning curve.

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To pinpoint the most rewarding moment of teaching is near impossible as every day presents new experiences and ‘this is why I teach’ moments. Personally, my most rewarding moment so far, was when I was teaching a little boy called Nathan who just couldn’t grasp the diagraph ‘ph’. I was writing words on the board containing ‘ph’ and asking the students to underline the new sound. Everybody else understood and I was ready to move onto the next activity but I was absolutely desperate for him to get it right so I could reward him with a star like all the other students, but he just kept staring at me, or playing with my hair (Which he still finds a novelty as it is a dark blonde/gingery colour and is not all that common here in China…). Eventually, he raised the whiteboard pen and underlined the right part and looked me in the eyes and whispered, ‘teacher?’ The wave of pride that came over me at that moment was wonderful and unprecedented. I mean, next week, he wandered in late whilst eating a KFC and spent the entirety of that class refusing to be known as Nathan, only as ‘Spiderman’, but you can’t have it all, can you?

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