Top Three Lessons Learnt From Surviving Teaching As a Primary School Teacher
When I graduated from university, I graduated as a secondary school English teacher. In the eyes of the government, I was only supposed to teach English in secondary schools. However, through a bizarre twist of fate, I was made to teach primary school temporarily. Thus begin my short stint as a primary school English teacher. It was tough and rather traumatic, but here are the top three lessons that I have learned from surviving my stint as a primary school teacher.
The Chaos is Not That Bad
Well, to be honest, it was bad initially. Imagine entering a class filled with 50 energetic and active children. The chaos and noise can be rather daunting initially. However, with experience, you can bring that chaos under control quickly. The trick I find is to allow them the opportunity to burn off some energy, thereby creating some chaos for a short time. In other words, the children should be allowed some fun. Thus, with some pushing and pulling, you create somewhat of a balance between chaos and order. That’s because, with some energy burnt off, they are likely to be more engaged in the classroom activity.
That being said, the chaos is something that is out of your control. At times, some students may choose to disrupt the class like bringing their pet lizard to class and tossing it into someone’s shirt (true story). With such scenarios, it has offered me opportunities to put some theories to the test.
You Put Theories to The Test
There are some really great books out there with great theories on teaching. However, not every theory is applicable in the situations stated in the books. Thus, teaching in a primary school helped me put several theories to the test. This was especially the case for theories that I have learned for teaching in a secondary setting.
I remember treating some discipline issues using theories for a secondary setting. Things did not go down well and I had to think on my feet. Apparently, being the cool, sage-like adult figure to children did not yield the same effect as teens. As such, it was interesting finding out and learning on the job.
Thankfully, learning on the job did bring some great lessons. One of them is the importance of patience.
Patience Changes Lives
To be honest, I did not like younger children before I had my own children or before I taught in a primary school. I was just more comfortable with teens. Thus, there are times when I feel like telling a child to buck up or wise up. It can be tough being patient with younger children for making some mistakes that I may deem trivial.
I remember trying my best not scolding a student about a really dumb mistake he made. However, just before I did, he somehow opened up to me about the problems he was facing at home. The anger dissipated and I listened. From then on, I became that someone he could talk to whenever he needed. That taught me a valuable lesson to be patient throughout my career and it has served me well in the years that follow.
Looking back, I dreaded the day that I was made to teach in primary school. I am happy that it has taught me some great lessons, who knows, I may even get the opportunity to teach in such a setting again.