Smara, Morocco – Hundreds of teachers will start their professional careers this September. They will find themselves in a reality far from the theoretical models that they studied in their training.
While training schools may prepare us for teaching in schools, they do not prepare us adequately for our classrooms. Like novice soldiers who have yet to experience wars, they know plenty of theory but nothing of the realities of war. A crude awakening awaits.
The beginning is always difficult and frightening. It is natural to feel afraid about what is ahead and to be worried about the future. This is what is called in both philosophy and psychology, “the existential anxiety” since it is part of human nature to be worried about certain questions related to one’s future and the kind of challenges. _one might face once placed in the classroom for the first time.
In this context, recently, I have received many calls from various friends from all over Morocco, asking me for advice to help them to adapt to the realities of the classroom that they will soon be facing.
The objective of this article is to share some ideas with novice teachers. These ideas are not to be taken as strict rules to be followed, but rather my aim is only to open a forum for discussion with both novice and experienced colleagues. In this way, we can all share information and guide one another as we have all gone through the same process.
We all know that the first years of teaching are the most important years in our careers. This is the time when students, administrators, and parents will have their first impressions of us. These impressions will continue to follow us for years.
This is why it is vital to be yourself from your first day inside the classroom. We should not imitate other teachers who have taught us or treat your students as you have been taught or told. The students you will be teaching are and will certainly be different from the theoretical students you studied in books of teaching.
Pedagogically speaking, there is no need to hurry to start teaching immediately. We should take enough time to first talk with our students and listen to their needs and desires. Students come to our classrooms with assumptions about us as teachers as well as the subjects we teach, which may or may not be accurate.
These sometimes-false assumptions are what create misunderstandings and miscommunication between teachers and learners. As teachers, we should understand how our students learn best because, “the shoes that fit one person pinch another. There is no recipe for all living that suits all cases” as the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Young once said.
Moreover, we must know and try to understand their social and cultural backgrounds as well as their reasons for coming to school. Knowing our students well will be the key to win their hearts and to create a coherent team of teacher and learner.
When we teach, we should not boast our knowledge or skills, but instead speak at the level of the learners, by making things simple and clear. We should use the names of our students and examples from their cultural contexts and teach them with honesty. Students always love teachers who teach with their hearts as they feel your personality in what you teach and preach. Good teachers open the doors and let students enter study and learn themselves, without forcing information upon them.
A mistake that we often make as novice teachers is that we listen solely to teachers who work in the schools where we are appointed. We ask them for advice as we think that they will help us because they spent more time teaching there. Experience is not only evaluated or measured by the number of years we have spent working. It is the fruit of hard work and action research.
We have to avoid taking suggestions from teachers with questionable practices. Instead of listening solely to experienced teachers, it is important to take into account students’ suggestions and preferences.
It is most important to be receptive to your students’ wishes and to create a strong pedagogical contract with your students. At the end of the day, your students are the ones who most shape your teaching experience. Your professional success is largely the result of your relationship with your students as opposed to your relationships with the teachers you work with.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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