16 August 2009

Teaching is how you improve as a teacher

I frequently come to the conclusion that we can sometimes become better teachers despite ourselves. Even if we are not making any great effort to improve our pedagogy skills the mere fact of being in the classroom day after day can improve your ability to teach effectively; this has been my experience anyway. The students don’t make it possible to stagnate or should I say they don’t make it easy. If the students are not kept engaged they can make your life hell and you have to be constantly learning and refining ways to stay in control; much of this learning is not deliberate.

I remember a more experienced teacher telling me that it takes at least five years for a new teacher to find her or his feet; this makes sense to me. I firmly believe that the only real way that you can learn to teach is by actually doing it. Theories and research are important but are practically useless if you have nowhere to test them. All the most useful techniques in pedagogy are learnt through experience and what works for one person might not work for another.

I like the analogy of teachers acquiring a toolbox full of tools which can be applied to different situations. Each teaching situation is unique and so the more tools you have the better. Sometimes introducing a game might increase the energy of the group while other times slowing the tempo down might be what is required. The longer you stay in the job the more tools you will have in your toolbox.

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