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The Learning, the Teaching and the Stallion Motorcycle.

“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”

― C.S. Lewis

I’ve read a large amount of C.S. Lewis. I’ve sat in on lectures and discussed, debated and thought about the kinds of things he thought about: Life, children and everything in between. And I think now after having been an educator, I can begin to see what he meant.

Teaching is difficult. It makes you frustrated, angry and incredibly exhausted, and I would go so far as to say Mr. Lewis takes somewhat of a romanticized view on children in their beliefs and behaviors. However, at the same time its hard not to try take his view. The idea that holding onto your childhood and never forgetting those moments that make you inherently childlike are important, romantic yes, but important for both you as a person and for me as an educator right now.

I think if there’s anything I’ve learned as a teacher in these past two years,  is that you should always try and put yourself in that childlike perspective, to try things you can do that are new and memorable for your students? What lessons, ways and methods can you use that you would have loved to have done as a student when you were in school. Practicality is indeed a difficult concept to deal with when teaching, but at the same time I’m lucky enough to teach communication and so the details don’t need to be specific, which allows for an incredible amount of creativity.

I can remember watching a certain famous old movie in my grade 11 English class being rushed with emotions enough to almost stand up on a desk and scream out, ‘OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN!’

It’s those memories and that teacher I cherish.

(RIP Mrs Miller)

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The ability to show your worth without being scared of being judged harshly, is such an important step in a teen’s education. As a teacher your job is to teach yes, to guide a student, perhaps,  but if anything I just want my students to think for themselves.

I remember asking my students who their role models were this year and their responses were pop idols, singers and actors/actresses. I didn’t mind who they picked, what I really wanted to know was why they thought these people were worthy of being idolized or looked up to. My biggest pet peeve was hearing because they were beautiful, as the reason they were a person’s role model.

I mention this because as an educator you have expectations of your students. You want them to succeed, from students who can’t read a single syllable of English, to those you can discuss pop culture and ‘man’s not hot’ with a level of interaction that is astounding. It just emphasizes my point even more of not teaching my students, but rather allowing them to grow in their own right.

I guess what I’m trying to say in this rather meandering and uncollected memory driven post is that I’m grateful. I’m grateful for the students who give back to me as much as I try to give to them. I’m grateful for the ability to allow my students to be creative, to not be judged but instead be allowed to grow into whatever they find interesting. I’m grateful for the memories, the laughs, the frustration and for being reminded of my childhood.

In my final class with my smartest M5 class I wrote on the whiteboard, ‘Never make fun of someone who speaks broken English. It means they know another language.’

― H. Jackson Brown Jr.

I told them that being able to speak a language isn’t about perfection it’s about connection and communication. If someone who speaks broken English is able to communicate with someone who speaks that language perfectly and they can understand each other then my job is done. English is a fantastic language, it may be complicated and difficult to learn at times but the one of the most ironic things I have learned is that some of the best written novels and poetry is when an author has broken the rules of English.

My final thought is this: if I created an environment that allowed my students to use their imagination and have no fear when speaking another language especially against the backdrop of teenage angst then I did my job.

Thank you for all you have taught me these past two years,

‘Live long and prosper.’ – Star Trek

Teacha Bylon.

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