I have wanted to become a teacher from a very young age; I believe this is because I found my nursery and primary school teachers to be very inspirational and tremendous role models. They insured that all our classes were fun with the use of puppets, stories, musical instruments and drama. This kept me interested and focussed at all times and I can remember thinking, “I want to be just like Mrs Dickie when I grow up.”
After my daughters’ birth I returned to work with adults with learning difficulties. I discovered that a lot of the older adults had been institutionalised all their lives and never had the opportunity to attend school. Those more able adults were keen to learn basic literacy and numeracy skills. This was a task I took upon myself to assist them with. I found this very rewarding and the difference it made to these people’s lives was very significant, enabling them to live a more independent life. This job made me realise how much I had wanted to work in an educational environment and I decided to apply as a Learning Support Assistant to gain valuable experience and knowledge in different areas of school.
My main reason for wanting to become a teacher is because I love children and really enjoy working with them. My experiences with working with primary school age children for the past three years have been truly inspiring and rewarding, reawakening my passion to pursue a career in education further.
I have worked in a small Primary School for three years and during this time I worked with P6/7 for two years and P1 for 1 year. Throughout my time in P6/7 I built up a very productive and rewarding working relationship with two pupils. I focused on confidence building by means of small drama sessions and improvisation. Once we had established a good grounding of trust, the children felt more confident about their strengths. I believe this is when we made most progress with academic work. The children’s social skills greatly improved and they became more confident with their peers. This was a great achievement for the pupils as inclusion had previously been an issue. The children worked very hard producing great work for their ASDAN challenges which they were able to complete before leaving for secondary school. One pupil also attained Level A Maths, Reading and Writing National Assessments and was making good progress on Level B.
My year in P1 was a great experience which I have enjoyed immensely. I worked with a young boy who has Williams Syndrome. I was teaching the pupil on a one to one basis reinforcing letter sounds and numbers, developing different ways for him to learn these. I worked on my own initiative with great enthusiasm and I gained an understanding of his personality and disorder to enable him to produce some unexpected and quite remarkable work. When he first began school his motor skills were very poor and he struggled to concentrate long enough to progress from scribbling to forming letters and numbers or learning sounds. At the end of my year with him he was able to recognise and form most letters and numbers and was able to trace words confidently. He could also identify good and bad work. His drawings now resemble shapes and people. He was also beginning to be able to do simple addition and subtraction with little support. His speech has become more easily comprehended and his vocabulary has increased immensely.
Cortazzi (1990) discusses individual and class needs. The primary education dictum suggests that a teacher should always meet the needs of the individual but I agree with him when he says that some children will take precedence whether it be academically or with behaviour issues. This was not a problem for me when I worked as a learning support assistant as I only had one child to be responsible for and meet their needs. I do however think I will find this to be very difficult if I have a large class and they all will have different needs. Time will be needed to be taken out to focus on individuals and assess their learning needs as well as social difficulties or behavioural problems they may be experiencing.
Since leaving this school I have bumped into several ex-pupils and they have all been really happy to see me and are eager to share what they have been doing and how they are getting on at school. They also ask about my family and pets as these were areas we had talked a lot about in school. Nias (1989) discusses the idea of being whole by “blurring the boundaries between personal and professional lives” I believe this is to be an accurate, valid statement. I felt that the children were sharing a lot about themselves both academically and personally to me, so by me talking about my life and interests and giving back a little of myself helped build up better a relationship with the children resulting in the children being more successful learners and eager to do well in school.
I thoroughly enjoy explaining new concepts to the children in a manner they can understand and I get great pleasure from them when all of a sudden they can understand and are able to do something new. The look of total pride and satisfaction on their faces is priceless and the amount of joy it brings to me is indescribable. I have had children approaching me during the past few years to say ‘thank you’ and ‘you’re the best’ and it is an amazing feeling knowing that I have done something to make them feel this way. I want to enable every child to reach their full potential and for them all to feel proud of their work and successes.
Children make me laugh and are very entertaining; they are a joy to be around. At a young age they are so eager to learn and full of enthusiasm. I am passionate about ensuring they maintain their enthusiasm and eagerness to learn throughout school and the rest of their lives. I believe a good teacher can ensure this happens. A teacher is a person who helps develop future doctors and lawyers and can also be the person who helps distraught, neglected or abused children find their way and deters them from a future life of crime.
Nias (1989) also discusses the idea of control in the classroom. After interviewing 50 teachers throughout their career, the majority of them stated that feeling like a teacher is about being in control. It is seen as “a necessary condition for feeling like a teacher.” It has been described as the first barrier you need to get over to before you can properly feel like a teacher. This is an area I think I will find difficulty with as I personally do not feel I will be able to show an air of authority over the children. The fear of the children disliking me fills me with anxiety as I think it will create a bad atmosphere in the class and have a detrimental effect on their learning. I do understand and accept the theory of establishing yourself and your control of the classroom first and then the children can begin to like you later as explained by Nias (1989). This will probably be my biggest challenge in my placements and later on when I become a ‘real’ teacher. I will need to work on finding the correct balance between teacher and friend enabling me to establish a professional relationship with my class.
To me being a teacher is not just about teaching literacy and maths, it is also about compassion, confidence building and other nurturing skills that sadly some families have lost now. Education to me is the most wonderful, valuable free gift a child can receive and I would take great pride and pleasure in being able to provide this gift for every child in my class. My goal would be to be the best teacher a child could wish for and hopefully I would become the role model and inspiration that my early year teachers were to me.
Cortazzi, M (1990) Primary Teaching: How It Is. London: David Fulton
Nias, J (1989) Primary Teachers Talking: A Study of Teaching as Work. London: Routledge