If you don't like learning, teaching is not for you.
"Basically, being a teacher was not my first choice.
When I was a kid, I used to imitate my teachers write on the blackboard, but it was just for fun. When I pick my course at university, I applied for Human Resources, I wanted to work in offices, things like that. One of my mentors called me and asked if I wanted to try the course to become a teacher. She advised me to try to be a teacher for English as a second language. My parents were so excited! They repeated 'Yes. Yes. Why don't you try to be a teacher? '
So I decided I could try. It was then that I began to understand what it meant to be a teacher.
I always thought that being a teacher came down to learn something and teach it for someone.
But as I was learning and doing the disciplines, I realized that there are so many other works to be done. For example, as a teacher had to learn about management of the Classroom, and this is so important. I learned about Voice Projection, as a teacher, our accent is our voice, so it must be very clear and understandable. I also learned about the different types of classroom arrangements, you know, we can use different ways to set up chairs for different activities.
I learned about the different teaching methods and how to apply them to each type of student, class or activity.
Every child learns differently and each activity can be designed in different ways for everyone to learn.
I also learned about Psychology, and it was very interesting. Some students may appear to be ok, but if you approach them in different ways, you’ll realize that there are problems and situations they can’t handle. In addition, I learned about counseling and guidance, which are other ways of work in education.
So I can say that putting it all together, being a teacher is not just about teaching. It is about a set of theories and how we’ll be able to apply all of this in our day to day.
After I graduated, I went to a practical experience for three months. Once I entered the real school, it was very interesting. On my first day as a teacher I was really nervous. I had learned so many theories and wondered how to put them into practice. It is always a challenge.
It always depends on the proficiency of students. If they are very good, you have to be able to present something newer, and improve what they already know. If they haven’t learned a lot, you have to create ways to help them get the basics. These days, children are very smart. Some of them want to 'test' to see if we are good or not. They make us questions to which they already know the answers to see if we can deal with their questions.
But on my first day it was not like that. My students had an intermediate proficiency. And I was very eager to teach them. I was afraid to be that teacher who stands in front of the classroom, talking about herrself, looking to all of those students who don’t understand English and who are wondering 'What is this lady talking about?'. And that was one of my challenges.
Then I applied a technique called Direct Translation Method so that I could communicate with them. In the middle of sentences, I explained a few words in Bahasa, so that they could understand what I was talking about.
Often, students came to talk to me in Bahasa and I answered 'I don’t understand Bahasa', to force them to use their knowledge of English to talk with me. That was how they learned little words and at the end of the day, had greatly improved.
The second challenge is the lesson plan. To be able make a lesson plan that can realize its goals. So to be a good teacher, you must have clear objectives and lesson plans that allow these goals to be achieved. This is much harder than it looks.
It is interesting that there is a difference between university students and our school students. At the university, students can decide whether they want to learn. At school, it is not like that. In college classes, teachers enter the room, show slides and explain a theory, it’s up to students to decide whether to deepen that or not. But in schools, we have to ensure that students are learning.
When I was a kid, I liked to go to school, but not to study, just to meet my friends. It was so fun.
But about English, I have a difficult history. I had a hard time learning English. I am from a rural area, we are not exposed to English at all. In urban areas, children are constantly exposed to English as a second language, by media, entertainment and all that stuff. But in my case, it didn’t happen.
I can read and write in English, but to learn to speak, it was very difficult. You only learn truth when you have someone to talk to in English, is the practice. So when I was a kid, I used to keep asking 'teacher, how to pronounce it?'. Today, I am very proud because I will become an English teacher.
In Malaysia, most English teachers are Indian, and they usually do not devote much when children don’t learn properly. I was one of the children that was not in the first class. I remember a teacher who didn’t make much effort to teach. She came, wrote lots of things on the board and was basically it. Not taught fore real. She thought 'These students don’t want to learn', and didn’t try any new method to motivate us or to make it a pleasurable activity. For me, being a teacher means to find ways to access your students first. You need to know them.
This teacher knew I liked English. She came to me and said I didn’t need to copy everything from the blackboard and could try to write my own way. That's how I learned. But I look back and I'm disappointed to think that she didn’t accept the challenge of educating us all. Once she arrived for class and was very angry because we were not learning. She cried out saying we were 'stupid' and it ended any remaining motivation that the students could have. So I can’t say I had a teacher model.
As a teacher, I believe we have to accept the challenges and create new ways of teaching. There is no reason to discourage any student. There are so many methods we can apply, like positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, so many things. My university professors turned out to be closer to the kind of teacher I want to become, because they are very professional.
The educational system here in Malaysia is not good. There are many changes, all the time. Some courses are in Bahasa, others in English and then it changes in High School. It is quite complicated for children. The system is not stable. Recently, a new system was implemented, which provides 4 skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking. And there are simple activity, such as repeating words on a list. Teachers don’t have much work, only need to apply this material. And many teachers just do that and approve the students. In addition, there is a difficulty because now it’s necessary to put everything online and many teachers were not prepared for this, besides the fact that they have to deal with 6 classes with 40 students each and tabulate the results for each student in each activity.
Another bad thing here is that the text book that is the same for many years, with no changes. Some students get bored of looking at the same book every year, and there are those who have older brothers and they know exactly how their next year is going to be. As a teacher, if you depend only on the books, your class is extremely limited and repetitive.
I am very concerned about the distance between children in rural and urban areas. Because rural children are not exposed to many things about culture, entertainment, media and news, which are part of education. I often feel that it’s not fair. Children in urban areas have many facilities, schools are equipped with computer labs, they have different classrooms for science and mathematics, for example. I always think that the government should send professional students to rural areas so that they can inspire and improve the quality of education.
As a teacher, you need to learn to love. Every day, we are learning something new. You are influencing the future generation. Students look at you as a model. The life of a teacher is to teach, children learn our habits and behaviors.If you don't like learning, teaching is not for you.
There is always two types of reaction to the phrase "I'll be a teacher '. Many people find great and others find that I will become a person who has to shout at the students to be heard.
There is also a third reaction: the idea that "teachers knows everything." At family gatherings, there are always those people who ask questions of all kinds, waiting for me to know the answer to all of them. It's always like that:'ask the teacher'.
Teachers, try to motivate your students and to remain open to dialogue with young teachers.
These teachers have ideas that can help solve problems. This doesn’t mean that younger teachers are better, but that they deserve the respect and they may have learned something valuable and are willing to make changes."