Notes from a Young Teacher

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by Lenka Birova

Survived Block A [ed. note: 1st quarter]. Important findings:

  1. Kids/teens are nowhere near as rude, stupid, or shallow as it may seem from media or “public discussions” of well-meaning elderly ladies from the neighbourhood. In reality, they are quite smart, intelligent, sensible and active – the trick is to persuade them to use this potential in accordance with the goals of the educational process and not against it.
  2. The hardest thing is not the lecturing part; it’s the already mentioned persuading the students to cooperate. The most time-consuming too. Still totally worth it once you manage it.
  3. If you prepare a wonderful exercise, it might work. It also might not. Sometimes, it might work in one group but not in the other. It’s normal. Get used to it.
  4. When they say preparing a good lesson plan takes about 3 times as long as the lesson itself, they are not exaggerating.
  5. Most of the time, you are barely going to cover all the things you expect. One in 10 times students are going to be faster. Always have more stuff prepared than you expect to need. You don’t want to be remembered as the one who made a fool of themselves because of unexpected need for improvisation.
  6. Teachers hate giving bad marks just as much as students hate getting them.
  7. You don’t need the Darth Vader Voice-Changer Helmet to attain that unmistakeable wheeze. Four lessons in a row do the trick just as well.
  8. Correcting papers is easiest with a Strawberry Daiquiri in your left hand. (A piña colada in the right makes it nicer too, but it doesn’t really help getting the job done.)
  9. One of the nicest things in the world is a student saying your class is their favourite.
  10. Teaching: it’s exhausting. It’s time consuming. It’s frustrating, sometimes. It’s also awesome and rewarding and I LOVE IT!Lenka Birova

Lenka Birova is in the MA English/History teacher training program at the Faculty of Education, Comenius University in Bratislava. She also teaches Intro to History at C. S. Lewis Bilingual High School.

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