Reflection on the journeys in becoming a teacher

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What do you want to be when you grow up?" I can't recall the endless times when I was asked this question when I was a child. With determination, when I was about four years of age, I used to answer 'I want to become a teacher'. It was as early as this point in time in my life that marked the beginning of my journey in becoming a teacher. I am accustomed in hearing that people get lost when they go on a trip. Why do people get lost? It is very likely that people, who go on a trip alone, do not bother to plan ahead or to watch out where they are going. Unfortunately this is what happened to me whilst in the journey of becoming a teacher. I was so fanatic in having my own classrooms with my own whiteboard (which I was so obsessed with), with my own resources and students who obey me instantly and attentively listen to what I say, that I took the wrong lane. I remember very clearly how I used to play the teacher's role. I used to give my 'students' (my dolls and teddy bears) punishments, extra homework, detentions, send them to the heads office (where I used to take my dolls outside my room) and shouting at them. This was how I viewed the teacher's role; this was the kind of teacher's role model I particularly had throughout my years at school. In short, throughout my school years I acquired negative ideas about teaching, which I was still keen to follow. And that's what makes me say that I was on the wrong lane.

These visions of teaching changed considerably when I saw the film "The Ron Clark Story"; a film based on the true story of the educator Ron Clark. This story inspired me to the extent that helped me reflect more deeply on why I want to become a teacher. Moreover, this film served me as a map, which helped me find my way out of the wrong path I was following in my journey of becoming a teacher. As I began to reflect on the enduring journey in becoming a teacher, I started associating myself with a Hawksbill Sea turtle. In my opinion, the features of this creature are the best representations that symbolize me as a teacher (Teacher's Stories date).

Taking risks

As I became acquainted with the Hawksbill Sea turtle, I realized an important feature in this creature. A turtle cannot move unless it sticks its head out from under the shell (Marshall, 2008). By doing so, the turtle takes risks. Throughout his Journey in becoming a teacher, Ron Clark took a lot of risks; such as moving away from home and a permanent job in order to go and work with disadvantage students with the risk of being fired; when nobody wanted to teach the disadvantage students, he wanted to be the one to teach them; he took the risk by giving student his phone number in order to call him when they are in trouble and so on. He also tells his students to dream big and take risks. This kind of characteristic, present in both the turtle and Ron Clark is very relevant to me in becoming a teacher.

Throughout my journey in becoming a teacher I experienced some obstacles. In order to eradicate these obstacles altogether I had to take risks. If not, today I wouldn't have been here aspiring to graduate as a bachelor of education with first degree honors. A first obstacle that I encountered was that I failed two exams, one at an A-level and the other at an Intermediate level. These two subjects were particularly subjects in which learners were required to memorize everything and as a result of this, my approach to these subjects was quite negative (Yahi, date). All the pressure of doing the re-sits combined with my part time job, private lessons, having to do ECDL alone and proficiency tests, entering university seemed unattainable. Moreover, I didn't have any support at all from my parents since they were worried sick, that due to the pressure of doing all those things in just one summer, I will fail again from the exams. My parents worry a lot and due to this, from the moment I was born they kept me, to take Plato's illustration, in a cave so that I won't' be harmed by the reality. I always believed that my parents, due to their experiences, knew what's right for me. However, after questioning my abilities, examining the risks, and thinking of the benefits if I were to succeed in these things, I managed to free myself from the chains of my parent's and went in search for the light (Gaarder, 1996). It was not an easy step for me to release myself from my parents' chain; this was indeed one of the risks I had to take. However, like the prisoner in the cave, I was curious about the light and with courage, determination, effort and risks I became accustomed to the light. This light is an illustration for what I was able to achieve in just one summer.

This experience "has enabled me to develop greater empathy for the children" I will teach (Teachers stories, p.196). Due to this, I now know how important it is for me to turn back to the cave and enlighten my students. By doing so, I will be doing like Ron Clark in guiding them to seek risks and courage for themselves.

Shell

The shell of the turtle is very unique because it makes the turtle stronger. Like a turtle, teachers throughout their journey in becoming a teacher, develop a kind of shell that enables them to develop stronger. This is what distinguishes one teacher from another. What kind of shell did Ron Clark develop? Throughout his journey in becoming a teacher with the disadvantaged students, Ron Clark developed determination, patience, optimism, believing, innovation and hope. I admire him because unlike other teachers before him, he did not quit. This is what, at the end of the day, marked the improvement and success in the lives of the students.

In my journey in becoming a teacher, apart from teaching practice, I take up every opportunity I meet with, that relates to teaching. Indeed at my first year at university, I did some voluntary work with two children who were at that time staying at the YMCA. These children were in their first year of secondary school. However, they were very illiterate in the sense that, at their age (when they were expected to at least be able to know how to add up a sum, read, speak and identify other languages apart from Maltese), they weren't even able to communicate with me clearly in Maltese. Due to this it was very difficult for me, especially in the first few weeks, to comprehend what they were saying. They didn't even know the alphabet or how to read the clock. I used to ask myself, how do they cope at school? What will happen to them once they finish secondary school? What kind of job will they have later on in their life? I tried to do my best in the limited time I had with these children, however, even though I remained determined till the last day I saw these children, I somehow failed, because now that I have recently met with them again, they are still illiterate. Does this mean that I am not a good teacher, because unlike Ron Clark, I failed to help these children to succeed? What makes a good teacher? Although I feel disappointed that I was not able to educate these two students quite successfully, I feel that from this experience I learned a valuable lesson: 'I am unique…I am not a failure… I can improve'. After this experience I learned that a good teacher tried to think around problems like these". Like Yahi I have a "sense of pride…in being among those teachers who improve their skills and insights by actively seeking out in which to do so" (Yahi's approach, p.128)

The Hawksbill turtle is also unique because its shell not only makes the turtle stronger but it also changes colors depending on the temperature. Metaphorically teachers can also change their strategies in accordance to the situation, student's needs, abilities and backgrounds, how far the students are to success, the mood of the students and how the relationship is at that point in time. For instance Ron Clark used various methods, which helped him come closer to his students, which enabled better success. For instance, in order to encourage them to pay attention throughout the lesson, he told them that every 15 minutes he will drink a carton of milk. He also changed the environment of the class quite often, in order to help students feel more at ease and comfortable.

I chose PSD instead of another subject for a reason. I wanted to make a difference in the student's life and I think that PSD is the subject which mostly allows this. Like Ron Clark, I want students to look at me as if I am their friend, as someone who has their best interest at heart. I don't want to teach students for exams. Throughout the years of schooling my teachers modeled the banking system; where they taught by transferring knowledge.(Freire, date). According to Dewey (1910, pp.41-42) "It is not the business of education… to teach every possible item of information". Due to this, my schooling years was quite devastating for me. I don't' want to put my students to that (Yahi, 128). On the other hand, I want to provide opportunities from which students can learn. One way how I can do this is by means of experiential learning suggested by Dewey. In return from this kind of experience I will be able to learn too. Indeed I view teaching as holding an honor in that it allows me the opportunity to learn on a daily basis. This is a positive benefit we teacher shave.

The Hawksbill turtle is becoming extinct and I believe that good teachers are becoming extinct too. In the poem "The Road not Taken", Robert Frost describes how he took the road less traveled. In becoming effective educators, people have to take this kind of road, however since it is not often taken, people fear it. Although I don't know what the future holds for me, I think that I will take such a challenge, because from the mistakes I made and from the experiences I passed through, I now know how much important it is to at least to try.

I would like to have moments in my journey of becoming a teacher similar to what Ron Clark had in his experience of teaching where students told him 'For being there, even when we didn't want you to be, for inspiring us to dream big, for looking like a fool when you double Dutch, we voted you the best teacher in town". This kind of appreciation from the students will surely inspire me to grow up throughout my journey of becoming a teacher.

Extra

What learners bring and contribute is as important to learning that takes place as what the teacher brings and contributes (Patrick's approach: p,113)

It is important to keep the doors open as long as possible: not to write them off but to go on believing in the scope for change, and to keep working to create conditions that make such changes more likely to happen (Patrick's approach: p,116

Accessibility, emotional well being and worthwhile achievement; refer to important (Julie's approach, p.138)

I wonder, I wish and I need (Teacher's stories, p.177)

Becoming a teacher is a lifelong project, not a short-term goal. (Teacher's stories, p.177)

Why should I be a teacher journal

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