I don't think I've ever decided to become a teacher. When I was little, I loved to play school, I wanted to be a teacher like most girls. But I didn't decided to teach. My dream, in fact, was always about going to college. I've never had enough money to go to a cool college or an expensive course. So, I worked hard to pay for my Pedagogy degree, because my dream was to study. By the time I was slowly falling in love with education.
After my graduation, I realized that I've learned nothing in college. The truth is that you learn how to teach by teaching. We study lots of theories and there is a gap between that and the skills we need to develop on the daily bases.
If someone talked about Vygotsky or Piaget at the time, I would be able to say many things. But I didn't even know how to pick up the chalk and write, what typeface to use, none of that. I remember the first time I took a chalk in my hands and I thought, "Wow, what now? How do I make headers and those kind of things?" All of this I learned day by day, with the students. When people say that we learn a lot with the students, that is a fact. It's something we live daily, they really taught me a lesson.
There were many days when the plans weren't put into practice. Sometimes I did super cool projects, wonderful plans that I used to dream about: When I was in class, however, I couldn't apply anything. For several reasons. Among them, perhaps the main one, because of indiscipline. We wasted so much time with this. This used to happen more in the public schools I taught, because classes were not "prepared" as in many private schools. On the other hand, I had extremely surprising days, things went much better than I imagined.
If I could summarize what made me work as a teacher, I'd say it's the students. It's not about the money or the system, but it's all about the children. It's about being able to say to them "Dream!", "Make your dreams come true!". It is an opportunity to be the person who will show them that dreams can come true. Because I had dreamed, and I fulfilled many of my dreams.
In this sense, as teachers, we can change the lives of many children. I remember many of my teachers, they changed my life. I remember my first preschool teacher. She was beautiful. I also remember the teacher in grade one. She was very angry because I was always nervous. She didn't accepted when a child couldn't write 'ai, ei, oi ui'.
I remember many of them, all the names. There was a Portuguese teacher named Tina. She was beautiful, a "blonde", one of those with a broad hip, who dominate the spaces with a presence, you know? She was all cool, driving a giant motorcycle. She made everyone like her with that attitude. There was also a teacher in my Middle School, Mr. Lázaro. He taught me a lot about life. He taught me about the Beatles, about Brazilian music, about the war, about the nuclear bomb. These are things that made us change. Our mind was different. They made us see the world and realize that we lived in a small world and that there was so much beyond.
I brought them to my practice as a teacher. I also brought a lot of the teachers of my preparation courses, their dynamic and way of speaking. I used to like that a lot, because the contents that we learned in those courses were pretty basic. And I always thought, "That's cool, teach it like that!"
When I left college and went to teach, I was very proud to say that I was a teacher. I never thought what others would think of me. But, deep down, everybody thinks: 'Poor thing, she's a teacher. Must win badly. She must not be successful in life, so she has become a teacher!'. I'm sorry about that and I'm sorry for that. Because for me to be successful doesn't mean to win more or less. I loved being a teacher.
It is clear that the Brazilian public educational system is bad. We know that education is not a priority. But between four walls, inside our classroom, we can and should transform this reality and not reproduce it. It doesn't help blaming the system all the time, it's an effort not to be like it. As bad as it is, the public schools had a freedon that you would never experience in private schools. The clientele relationship of the private school hinders the teacher's freedom to speak and act. The very selection of contents and methods is totally different in the public school, I felt much freer. A completed handout is like a teacher's prison. Our work is limited to the selected contents. The child has to study that to do the tests. There is no such thing as "that extra" that makes all the difference in education. That "go beyond" what is in the handout. I have always had a lot of good things to offer my students, but in this situation, we find ourselves in the midst of a lot of content and little time to explore them. They were good content, you know? The handouts had a lot of cool stuff, but it was a lot, you couldn't go deeper.
I've done a lot of things "hidden".
For example, I had students who were very fond of astronomy and had to take a quiz and participate in a quiz on that subject. If they passed, they would win medals and things like that. And they liked it very much. Then I brought extra things about that. The good thing about private school is the structure: it has material, it has technology. I searched for a lot, passed everything on to them and saw those little eyes shining. It was beautiful.
The relationship with parents is always complex, both in the public school and in private institutions. In public school I felt that the parents did not know how to give limits to the children. They did not know how to handle much. Maybe because of a certain social condition. Some parents had a very defensive posture, whatever we said, it seemed we were judging or criticizing their children. Many teachers were beaten because of this. Including physical aggression, I've seen a lot of it. In private school, as they paid, they wanted everything from the teacher. They wanted us to be parents, psychologists, teachers, stylists (sic). All that the father could not be, he wanted to pay for the son had.
There is a requirement for the teacher to always be "cool". It is not always that we are willing or that we can be legal.
Sometimes we have to be a teacher, we have to impose limits, we have to create real conditions to pass the contents that have been proposed. This requirement hampers relationships with the child. Many of them do not know how to respond. Sometimes they look at us and see the mother. It's hard to deal with. Teacher is different from father and mother. It is very complicated to know exactly how to act in such situations.
I was always a good student, I always thought I needed to be a good student because I had to have a future. But there was a time of my life, that adolescence in which I was a little rebellious. But I never stopped studying. I always enjoyed learning.
If I could send a message to the teachers of the world, it would be this: Always reinvent yourself! This is a struggle. Real education is almost a utopia. But we have to always try to reinvent ourselves. I can not be a hypocrite and say, 'Do not give up!' Because I gave up. If I need to come back, I'll come back, but I've given up once. I know what it feels like. But when I was active, what kept me walking was this: I always reinvent myself to do the best for my students.
Being a teacher is the profession that supports many people, who need to pay bills, raise children and live, so I would never encourage them to give up. I lived a different situation, I could stop working. But if I needed to be there earning my one thousand and five hundred reais to support my family, I would be. And I would be working properly and doing my best. Maybe it was different if I had to teach for money, maybe I had another vision. But it is ethical of me to admit that there are difficulties that prevent me from any empty encouragement.
I think low salaries make it difficult for any teacher to relate to professionalism. There is a very great difference between those who teach by ideology (there are few) and those who depend on the teacher's salary to pay the bills and support their children. This directly influences daily practice in the classroom. I think the gap between teacher responsibility and the salary they receive is the cause of many of the educational problems.
It's a question of power, right? Education will never be free. So, the way it is, education is perfect for what the system needs.
The movie 'The Wall' is very current. It continues to be so in the vast majority of schools. As much as there are different proposals, it is the same thing. And always will be. It is a utopia to think that education, as a system, will free. That's why I cling to the idea that I made a difference one by one. If I made a difference in one's life or another, it was worth it. I think that's what teachers who insist and like to give lessons think. I have a sister-in-law who has been fighting for many years for quality education. It's a heavy fight. I see how much trouble she has already had, because she has a dream, she believes. It is an ungrateful and solitary struggle many times.
I felt very alone. Not everyone thinks the same. There were teachers who did not like the students, there were principals who did not like students or teachers. The school staff was educated in this same problematic system.
I would close my door. It was not to close the classroom, but I liked to close the door. Because it was a way to win the fight, since she is lonely, inside those four walls, I was going to change the education. But outside the classroom it was very difficult to talk to the teachers, to pass on these dreams and projects. Many teachers did not accept any of this.
Look, when I did something new, they thought it was rebellion. Once I tried to mix a Portuguese language content with Theater. I was going to teach oxytons, paroxystones, and proparoxytones and it became a mess, but they were very excited about it all. The coordinator came and said, 'You're going crazy! There are parents here and these kids making a mess! What are they going to think? ' Education was happening in my living room. I was very angry and I said, 'I've been teaching this for four years, I know what I'm doing!'
It was so beautiful to see that, the students arguing (almost fighting) defending hard whether it was paroxitone or proparoxytone.
They ended up introducing the theater and by the end of the year it was marked for them. They forgot many things, but this content they knew. I looked back and thought, 'Actually, education happened there.'
The multidisciplinary thing is far from being a reality. I come to question whether this really exists. In the schools I taught, at least I never saw. Many teachers are afraid to pass on what they are giving in class. Or because they think another teacher will copy and bring glory to the idea, or because they are afraid of failure and the idea goes wrong.
I always say that teacher is not going anywhere. He may become a coordinator or a director, but in general, he will always be in the same field of work. Even so, there is a lot of competition. There is no admiration among the teachers themselves.
When I started teaching at a private college, I had a teacher who taught for the third year, just like me. I had not been teaching in two years, I was scared to death because it was a traditional high school in the city. She taught me everything, showed me how to follow each of the school guidelines. I've always been very grateful and always recognized it. Sometimes I tried to teach her to do things more freely, to question the guidelines a bit. She was terrified. But this is a unique and special case, this thing of showing how you work and invite to work together. Watch videos, 'join' classes, learn together. This dynamic is very rare in the teachers' room.
Teacher training is always a problem. I never had any incentive to research what I liked. Everything I did, all the courses, were on my own. But you can not demand that all teachers have the will, the disposition, and the conditions to go out and take extra courses. In private school, we had to do training on weekends, because of the system. It was that thing: going out at dawn, going to another city, losing the weekend and not gaining anything from it. Even because it was an improvement that did not change almost anything. No educational gains we had. It was, in short, to read the handouts. And we always wondered why we could not do it at home. In public school, courses and training were always in the opposite period. Those who taught in the morning had training in the afternoon. I could not miss the courses. In fact, it could not be lacking, because there was no substitute.
It's funny this 'neura' to guarantee the teacher inside the classroom, no matter what. The big problem was always the teacher missing. Now, if he's in the classroom, but he does not know anything, he does not teach right, and he does not teach a lesson, no problem, no one notices it. I've met teachers who did not know how to write, who knew no tables and taught it.
Public school parents basically act like this: 'My son has to be in school. I work (or not) and my son has to stay in there. If any thing happens with him in there I'll go to the Secretary of Education, I'll make that scandal and I'll solve it. ' In private schools the school is responsible for hiring the teacher, that's what parents pay for. 'I do not have time to research on who this teacher is, what he teaches, what he can teach'. But it's the same thing: 'I have to work and my son needs to stay somewhere.' The school was almost a warehouse. And the professionalism of the teacher is in the background.
Few parents understand the work of the school as a continuation of home schooling. Here in Shanghai they came to ask their parents, 'What do you want your child to learn?' He is 2 years old, I want him to socialize, that he lives with different children, from different countries, from different cultures. I want him to live in society. This is my desire as a mother. As a father and mother, how can we demand content? The relationship is not like that.
Apart from that, in many schools, it's all to show for parents. The children's notes, mainly. If my son takes 10 in English, this does not prove he has learned. I have memorized many things in this life, to make tests of the school, but to really know what these things are, just living. It's all very mechanized in today's education. Education is life. And live.
I live in a country far from Brazil, I am immersed in a very different culture. China is difficult. Sometimes we get caught up in criticizing local habits, finding it strange, bizarre. But what it is to learn, is to get in touch with the stranger and to gradually redo what you think about it. I learn a lot here, all the time.
I believe it is possible to take this into the classroom. I wish I could go back and tell my students about my experience. And they love it. I spent two years in the United States and returned to Brazil to teach. The kids wanted to know everything about my life in another country, they wanted to learn English, the name of the food, the recipes, the streets, the houses, everything. There is a lot of curiosity in the classroom. I would tell them about my trip to the Museum in New York, for example, where I saw Lucy. He told about her and about the story behind it. They traveled with me, went to get information, they wanted to know everything.
One day I arrived in the classroom and my students were all lined up and still. I joked that they looked like the kids in Pink Floyd's clip. They wanted to know who it was, what it was, who made the song, whatever, everything. I tried to dissuade it, it had only been a comment. They researched, found videos, texts and everything about music. We had to talk about it because they involved the parents in the research. I had to face some of the parents' comments at the meetings asking why I passed a poll on 'Pink Floyd' for third graders. It was not that, but it was very interesting to see education happening like this. They went beyond.
I had the opportunity to travel, to live in another country. But this is not a condition for being an interesting teacher. In the little one, we can do it. Teachers who invest in discovering the city with the students, to see the differences between the urban and rural areas of the region. Any teacher can do this. The search may be small or large in terms of geographic radius, but it can happen and have a very good result. Knowledge is everywhere.
Education is this, right? It's instigating, provoking.
You get all that potential curiosity and play with it.It's an incredible thing to see.
Today I have two children and blame myself when I do not instigate their curiosity. But this is an apprenticeship, because I stopped judging parents. It is very difficult to do this at home. It was the fear that you feel, right? Knowledge causes rebellion, but it is so good for those who want to learn. Questioning is, and will always be, the way.