Lorraine is a newly qualified teacher of middle school math and science at Khartoum International Community School. She was actually a teaching assistant/student teaching intern in my Year 5 classroom for a year while she worked towards her certification. We recently sat down and talked about her thoughts and feelings about the profession as part of the series Why Would Anyone Want to Become a Teacher? here on educationrickshaw.com
Hey Lorraine! It feels like forever since you were an assisting student teacher in Year 5! Now that you have a year of teaching under your belt, tell me, how was it?
It was. . . a great learning experience!
My focus at first was simply trying to get the students organized and to control their own behaviors. When you are a new teacher – and especially because I’m young – they try to take advantage of you and see where the limits are. Because I love working with children, I built really good relationships with the students and started making them love me. I used a lot of what you taught me for temporary gain such as rewards, demerits and class parties. These are good for short-term behavior boosts, like the popular “no homework” pass, but they’re easy to phase out once you have built the right foundations. I also was sure to keep asking for feedback from the students, and to keep it anonymous. It’s easy to recognize their handwriting, so it’s not completely anonymous, but what is most important is that they help me understand how I can be a better teacher, and feel that their voice is being heard when it comes to the pace and the direction of the lessons.
After I was able to understand the behavior management side of teaching – and I’m still learning, of course – I started to focus how best to use the different resources for teaching that I have at my disposal. By understanding how to use a resource or tool, I started to see how there are many different ways of approaching teaching a lesson. If in math they don’t understand the lesson from my original approach to teaching the skill, I change what I do and I use a growing number of resources to facilitate learning.
My first year was initially challenging, and all teachers go through similar experiences. After school lessons helped me to pick up the slack. Last year it was sometimes too much for me to get everyone on the same page, so I would have to go back and remediate with some of the students during free periods or after school to ensure that students were learning the content.
The big question of this interview series is, “Why did you want to become a teacher?”
So, why did you?
When I first graduated with a bachelor’s degree, I started private tutoring at home just for some extra money. It was from these interactions with students that I saw the potential in helping students to love what they used to hate (the notorious example is math). So, I felt motivated and proud and once I felt like I had it in me to be a capable teacher, I ditched the plan of being an architect and applied to be a teaching assistant. I sort of assumed that by watching other teachers teach, I would know if teaching was a good fit for me and if I would want to continue on the track to becoming a certified teacher.
Do you feel like you made the right choice?
Yes, I do enjoy teaching and it feels so good inside when you see a student understand and they are grateful. I gave my students a math test recently and to watch one of my students who is not used to success in math receiving their test with a 7 out of 7. .. that’s the best part so far. The student thanked me and was able to realize at that moment that we were partners in learning.
Well, thank you so much for interviewing with me!