On being yourself:
“When I became 22 I realised I didn't have to be cool any more”- Mr Ellis, my high school senior Modern History Teacher.
The teacher that had the biggest influence on my life was Mr. Ellis . He was an honest, funny and smart man. Mr Ellis really taught me how to think critiqically . Before, I thought learning was all about memorising facts and figures. He was the first person to teach me how to look between the lines, beyond the politically correct information and to form an opinion. He taught me how to write my opinions and to reference them to notable sources.
I admired him immensely but I felt intimidated by him too. Although he was a very kind person, he was also unfailingly honest. He was straight to the point in his criticism and knew when I could do better or if I was being lazy. No teacher had ever called me out on it before. As a result, I am quite honest with my students as well, especially when they are being disrespectful or when I know they can do better.
Mr Ellis use to regale the class about his life in one of his monologues he said something like, “ When I turned 22, I realised that I didn't have to be cool any more. I could just be myself.” And he explained how the older you become, the more you don’t care what other people think. He said that when he finished high school, he could fully embrace his interests without feeling like he was being judged. I think that’s why parents do so many embarrassing things or what their children perceive as embarrassing. The older generation can be themselves and their kids are still worried about what their friends will think or what people they know will say when they are out in public.So I always think of Mr Ellis’ words when I have second thoughts about things.
On behaviour management:
“ It’s not a democracy, whose the adult?”- Mrs M. – My teaching mentor
For those of you who are new to the blog, I recently became a qualified teacher. Behaviour management is the control you have over the students. A teacher needs to set the expectations for behaviour in their class so that everyone can learn and be safe.
Last year, I had to do my final teaching internship at a very tough elementary school. One day, we had a special day where guests came to the school to do a series of workshops for the whole day. As it was a change of routine, the kids were unruly and running around. We had combined with another class to go to each activity and I had to help keep both classes under control.
The children had a fabulous time while all the teachers were stressed trying to keep track of the schedule and preventing students from wrecking anything.I lamented to my mentor that I was trying my best but the children were not listening to me. Mrs M. said to be something like, “ Do you really want to be a teacher who gives up? You see those relief teachers (subsitute teachers ) who give up trying and let the kids do what they want. Do you really want to be that teacher? It’s not a democracy Carlyn and in the end, who is the adult? We have rules for a reason and there are guests at this school who deserve respect.”
Overall, what Mrs M. meant was that it is that the teacher is ultimately the one in charge. While we should keep the children’s considerations in mind, it is the teacher who makes the final decision. A teacher is accountable for the learning and safety of the children and needs to be able to justify the actions that happened in class.
So when I have a difficult situation with students, I always think of Mrs. M’s advice. I also ask myself these questions:
1. Is the student’s request reasonable?
2. Will it enhance their learning?
3. Will they be safe?
4. Am I comfortable with their request?
I’m sure I got lots of good advice in my life but those are the words that stand out the most.
Feel free to share some of the good advice that you have gotten.