Well, today was pretty awesome, so I thought I’d tell you about it.
In the interest of context, allow me to recap the last few weeks as concisely as I can. Taking my first ever lesson at Massey High School was a pretty big deal. You know, we spend years at University; months contemplating teaching; weeks at Teachers’ College; and it all comes down to one hour, one period, one lesson to answer the big question: can I do this? The answer, I’m delighted to report, was a resounding yes.
It was, in fact, quite the momentous occasion. Going in to my first practicum, I had several obvious hurdles to overcome, and would discover several more in the first few days. How would I cope with not being able to write on the whiteboard? Does it matter that I’m perpetually 4ft? Will the students take me seriously? Will I manage, wheels ‘n all?
So as you can imagine, getting that first lesson under the belt and putting a cautious tick in the “viable career option” box was a huge accomplishment. Since then, things have got better and better.
Please don’t misconstrue my excitement as ego, I’m well aware that this is but a small step on the long road to becoming an accomplished teacher. My mentors make it look so damn easy, and teaching can be really bloody difficult. But the mere fact that I have conquered the first few hurdles and put many head-scratching colleagues’ evident concerns to rest gives me a huge sense of achievement. We need to celebrate our successes, however insignificant!
So, on to what happened today. Yesterday, my lecturer Ngaire Hoben observed me teaching a Year 13 Media Studies class, and my students – bless them – were all so conscious of “being good” that they turned into this terrifyingly silent bunch of teenagers. THEY ARE NEVER SILENT! Anyway, as a token of my thanks I brought in some chocolate for them to munch on during last period. In exchange, I asked them to fill out a short feedback form on yesterday’s lesson – “One thing I liked” / “One thing I thought could have been better”. They all did it, and I’ve just flicked through the responses.
Wow. Their responses were astonishing. They were genuine, well-considered, thoughtful responses that will really aid my teaching from here on in. Suggestions like “Spend a little more time on the middle part of the lesson”, and “Go through some of the techniques used in the film to help refresh our memory” epitomise the level of conscious feedback I received. Reading the “stuff they liked” was also really useful, helping me to understand which elements of the lesson resonated with them. I also got some hearts and smiley faces which, you know, never hurts!
It’s really staggering just how little my wheelchair affects my ability to teach, really. I’ve started using a wireless bluetooth keyboard in conjunction with my laptop to allow me to record class discussions on the board – it’s just brilliant. Much better than a whiteboard! And apart from the odd question about whether or not my wheelchair is “fun” (?!), the students are largely unfazed by it. Truly, it’s something of a revelation. And so encouraging. I’m so excited by what’s to come next!
BRING IT ON!