Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Experience of 31 Lifetimes

I'm currently doing a teaching practicum in a public primary school, and learning some surprising things. I expect to have a bucket load of stuff to say about this, and subsequent periods of professional experience, but here's just a bite in case you're not very hungry.

From my observations  of 30 Year 3 students and their inspirational teacher, a good learning environment is one in which there is order. Teachers maintain control and set good behavioural examples and the students follow them. A good learning environment is one in which students know what is expected of them, and understand, and therefore avoid to the best of their abilities, the consequences of misbehavior. A good learning environment is one in which courtesy and respect are evident, and students respond positively to having boundaries in place by being obedient and diligent. 

A good learning environment is not, despite how it sounds, a utopia. The structures of reward and consequence, of respect, responsibility and safety, operate in the imperfect world of the classroom where there always exists some degree of unpredictability. The beast we know as human nature means that the best  behaved child can have a bad day, and the worst, a good one. The teacher tries to maintain a good learning environment despite the all too frequent attacks of its enemies: extra- curricular activities like the Mother’s Day Stall, the Music Bus, Dance 2 Be Fit and the overnight excursion, and interruptions to lessons from students and even other teachers.

Being a teacher seems to be more about management and paperwork than it does about actual teaching. Those who can do it with passion and diligence have my undying admiration.

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