It is greater work to educate a child, in the true and larger sense of the word, than to rule a state.
William Ellery Channing
Yes, being a teacher myself I can’t agree more. This is true in sense of the responsibility this profession brings and the actual task of educating pupil. You impact lives in ways you can’t even begin to fathom. While it affects the students’ lives, teaching can also affect your own life (having nightmares, contemplating your life choices etc). I have noticed over a course of 8 years that teaching, despite being a difficult job, has taught me some transferable skills which I can definitely benefit from in my personal life.
First and foremost, you need this teaching skill to manage your lessons and complete them within time. So, it’s your duty to figure how much your warm ups, presentation and practice should effectively take up of your allotted time. When you have back to back classes, it becomes difficult to literally ‘catch a break’. You get small windows in between classes to pee and eat and you have to take them. Otherwise, you have to give lessons on an empty stomach and a full bladder. I have mastered the skill of eating as well as drinking hot beverages in a matter of 5 minutes; often scalding my tongue in the process or choking on a chunk of tuna.
From organizing your lessons and thoughts to your supplies and materials, you need this teaching skill to survive. You need to figure out how to store your supplies in such a way that they are readily available to you inside or outside the classroom. Working with colleagues who love to borrow and share (misplace/lose), you need to keep track of your stuff. Labeling supplies with your name in menacing capital letters often helps. You need to organize your lessons according to the time of the day. The students are active and attentive in the morning, hungry before lunch break, too hyper after and sleepy and tired towards the end of the day. You need to save complicated or new lessons for the morning and easy lessons for later. I have learnt how to organize my personal belongings and schedule the same way.
I don’t pride myself on being a complete idiot when it comes to technical skills such as using Microsoft Office, downloading videos and audios, troubleshooting problems etc. However, once I became a teacher it was a completely different story. You gotta use and ‘effectively’ use these things if you want to plan a proper lesson. Of course, it helps a lot because you can also use your skills for personal need and ease (not to brag but I can even use the keyboard shortcuts now).
Though it won’t be classified exactly as a teaching skill, but you need to learn it and embody it. I feel like I personally have 13 kids and I’m responsible for everything in addition to their education; their safety, their food, their health, their problems etc. You literally get called mom once every few days. You feel like a guardian around your students because they come to you with every single problem ranging from I lost my bottles’ cap to I can’t find my trip money. I feel personally responsible if I see them in distress or worrying about a silly problem. I have learnt how to stay constantly alert, keep track of everything related to my students and how to come up with solutions to problems in a matter of seconds.
You definitely need to have this teaching skill if you want any respect from your students (which you care more about than you think). Otherwise, you mercilessly get to hear things like “Why does that class have a ballerina theme and we have a stupid summer theme?” or “Why did that class get perfectly wrapped gifts while all we got was a stupid gel pen?”. Apart from that, various events throughout the year challenge your creative side when you have to come up with themes and make banners, invitations, costumes etc. I wasn’t much of a creative kid, but I discovered my competence when I HAD to be creative. After a while, it even becomes enjoyable when you hear some oohs and aahs about your new art work.
If you have had the pleasurable experience of being a teacher, please feel free to share in the comments below. Stay tuned for Part 2.