What is school? Well, when the first time I hear the word ‘school’, I illustrate a building where children as well as teenagers wear uniform when going there, to study about something with older people they call ‘teacher’. It is a place that perhaps can inspire younger people to have good future with the knowledge they gather. It is also a place where younger people learn to socialize with one another. Some people called teachers maybe succeed in enchanting their students in their way of teaching so that they inspire those younger people to be in the same shoes.
Perhaps many people become teachers because they are inspired by their previous teachers. However, I am not in that path: I became a teacher accidentally. Luckily I did not graduate from a Teachers College either. When the first time I worked as a teacher in 1994, I did not try remembering how my previous teachers did when teaching; I just did trial and error. LOL. Therefore when someone asked me which experience as a student of mine that contributed to my teaching, I could not give a satisfying answer, I believe.
In 1996 I got a training to be a teacher in one English course where I have been working since then. I learned five important stages teachers needed to do in their classroom:
1. Motivating Strategies before teaching the material in that session, Teacher (T) needs to motivate Students (Ss) to be ready with the topic to be discussed. In this first stage, both Teacher and Students participate actively.
2. Presentation this is the most important part for Teacher because he or she presents the material. T is active while Students listen passively. However, of course Ss can ask when they think they need more explanation.
3. Skills Practice Students must be very active in this third stage while T watches Ss to perform their understanding from T during Presentation stage. T gives help whenever necessary.
4. Review this stage is not always important to be included in every session; only when T thinks that Ss need to understand more before they do the last activity.
5. Assessment in this stage, T lets Ss do the assignment by themselves. This stage can be called as the climax since Ss have to perform their best to show that they really grasp the main idea of the lesson.
When attending this course, I got an idea that T has a very important role to make the class enjoyable or boring (especially in language class) with some requirements: first, it is not really a big class, only consists of not more than fifteen students, second, it is not a children class (under twelve years old); their level is either Basic or Intermediate, not Advanced.
In Indonesia, most people study English because they want to be able to speak English fluently. Therefore it is very understandable if ‘speaking’ class is always more enjoyable than ‘writing’ class. In ‘writing’ the class can be boringly quiet. LOL.
Since I did not graduate from Teachers College, this training helped me a lot. I paid attention to any single thing the trainers did. However, again, I don’t think that what they did contribute to my way of teaching, except the material I got and one thing: the mood of T in front of the class influences the class atmosphere a lot. In other words I can say that to be a teacher, someone must be a good actor too. LOL.
Talking about a favorite teacher, mm … well, I am not sure if I have one. However, I can mention some teachers that perhaps will always be on my mind:
1. An English teacher I had when I was in senior high school. I majored in ‘language’ back then. I liked her perhaps because she was teaching English, my favorite subject at school. One important trait to be possessed by a teacher that I learned from her is to be patient. It does not necessarily mean that my other teachers were not patient. Again, it is because ‘luckily’ she was teaching English, my favorite subject. LOL. She also encouraged the female students she had to be economically independent; not to be (financially) dependent on the husband all the time. FYI, at that time her husband was one rector in one university in my hometown.
2. Two guest lecturers I got when I pursued my study at American Studies Graduate Program at Gadjah Mada University in Indonesia. They performed vast and deep knowledge about the materials they conveyed. Reading a lot to enrich their knowledge about any materials they teach is very important.
From the two aforementioned paragraphs, it can be concluded that for me, three most important features from a teacher are: first, to be patient; second, to be able to encourage Ss to do something positive; third, to be an avid reader.
Nevertheless, I believe that successful learning needs the strongest will from the learner himself/herself. Many people go to school with various reasons. In my own opinion, I have done my best to teach, but still I find some unwilling students in my class. They are all teenagers, mostly boys, around fourteen to seventeen years old. I observe the main reason for them to go to school is because they just do what their parents ask them to do, perhaps to get pocket money and to spend time in one ‘best place out of undesired other places’.
One greatest thing of mine to be a teacher, of course, is when I succeed in making my students understand how important knowledge is for their future. Therefore, I am always happy when knowing my ex students become teachers, like me.
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P.S. : I wrote this article to answer a best friend's 'homework' :)