This week the children listened to me. They seemed a lot more comfortable in my presence and I felt that my ‘probation period’ with them was finally over. They seemed to accept me as a recognisable teacher figure in the classroom, rather than just a complete stranger with absolutely no authority.
In the morning the children were using calculators to work out large sums from an activity sheet. Although they were really fascinated by the calculators (and often pretended they were phones!) most of the children worked really well. The teacher taught them the old ‘hello’ trick on the upside down calculator and they found this absolutely hilarious, which made me laugh too.
One thing I have learnt from my placement though is that children get bored and distracted really easily. Within five minutes a couple of the children began messing around:
“Miss she’s telling me the answers!”
“But Miss I’m just trying to help him he’s not doing it right”
“But Miss she’s getting the answers wrong”
“…Hey guys, I’ve got this!”
I had to stop myself from bursting out laughing at this funny 15-year-old-style comment and respond in a stern and adult way. I told them to concentrate on their own work and get their heads down. To my surprise, they listened and obeyed!
Now, I’m not the kind of person who likes arguments or confrontation. I’ve always had a tendency to avoid awkward situations or uncomfortable conversations – I’d rather just step down and leave them alone. For this reason I’ve always been a little unsure of my suitability towards teaching. However, today I discovered my ability to be authoritative.
At the end of the maths activity the children were asked to tidy up. Two boys sat playing with the calculators instead. After asking them to contribute 3 times without being listed to I used a loud and stern “Excuse me!” which seemed to do the trick! One of the boys, however, continued to mess around and ignore me. In previous weeks I probably would have let this go, but this time I felt confident to practice my teachery authority!
I walked over to where he was sitting and crouched down beside him. I asked him questions to get him thinking about why he should be helping – “Are you a part of this table too?” – “Yes” – “Have you been using the learning equipment on this table too?” – “Yes – “Well then it’s also your job to contribute to tidying up just like the other children, I don’t know why you think that other children should do it for you”. I let him process this for a minute and sat back at the other side of the table. After a few minutes, he picked up his calculator and put it in the box. YESSSSS! I felt so good that he’d listened to me and I realised that I can be authoritative, I can be serious and I can be a teacher!
A Lesson Learned
My main lesson from this week is that you shouldn’t let anything discourage you from doing what you want to. I convinced myself that my tendency to not be very assertive meant that I couldn’t be a good teacher. I have surprised myself so much on this placement and have realised that I have the ability to do things that I never thought I could. All you’ve got to do is assert yourself and just go for it! If you hate it, at least you tried it. If you love it, it could change your future!