This post is dedicated to all teachers and educators all over the world , mainly to my PLN (professional learning network) , teachers and educators who I honour , respect,learn from and care and share. A special mention to Malala Yousafazai, the young brave girl who bravely fights for education and has just won the Nobel Peace Prize 2014
October is the month when we celebrate Teacher’s Day: On 5th, The World Teacher’s Day and on 15th we celebrate Teacher’s Day in Brazil.
Regarding this celebration, I’d like to share some ideas with you based on what I’ve read, talked and shared with lots of teachers around the world.
No matter how long you are in the market, education is and will always be crucial for the human being character formation. Being a teacher and an educator is much more than just simply know the theories and techniques. It has a philosophical side, considering our responsibility upon our learners and what role(s) we play in our students’ lives.
It reminds me of Paulo Freire , a Brazilian educator, who said:
“The teacher is of course an artist, but being an artist does not mean that he or she can make the profile, can shape the students. What the educator does in teaching is to make it possible for the students to become themselves.”
(Paulo Freire, We Make the Road by Walking: Conversations on Education and Social Change)
Image by @sandymillin -from eltpics
When I recently read it again, I started to think about how much we teachers have been able to do in order to make the difference and shape our students’ lives in some way. After all, the world has changed, it’s in permanent change and we and our students are part of this brave new world. I have changed. I'm older, more impatient, more critical, and sometimes I feel weak and tired to face students’ lack of interest and parents’ lack of care about their children. Recently I've found myself complaining about a particular group of 10-11 year old students and I realised that for the first time in my life I have such a difficult group to deal with regarding everything: impoliteness, lack of interest and responsibility and very few parents concerned about their children behaviour and learning process. What’s important is the final result, the final grade: pass or fail, no matter if they have learned or not. This conversation was like group therapy in the teacher’s room where other brilliant and experienced teachers were having the same kind of complaints. We had the need to talk and share. A teacher was almost crying. She was so disappointed and feeling deeply sad.
In Brazil we teachers are underpaid. Yes, we are, even if you work in the richest school which pays the best salary, still you are underpaid. It’s the Brazilian educational system and the society that not value teachers as they should be valued. I've heard from lots of colleagues they are looking for another alternative to survive apart from teaching. And to tell you the truth, I've thought about it many times as well.
Image by @ceririannon -from eltpics
Being a very optimistic person you must be surprised I'm writing these words. Well, I've never said teaching is a bed of roses or that it’s only darkness and pain. No! Not at all!
And yes, we have to study to teach, to teach and learn, go to conferences, prepare lessons, correct workbooks and students’ compositions, deal with discipline, contact parents, prepare and correct tests, face endless meetings, find nice activities to engage students, write comments on report cards and an endless list of duties. Not to mention the fact that most of us around the world have to deal with low salaries to survive.
Image by Hana Tichá - from eltpics
Well, I have said too much already about how hard being a teacher is. I want to talk about the joy of being a teacher, because the suffering of being a teacher is similar to suffering the pains of childbirth: The joy of giving birth to a child does not compare to the pain we suffered before, which it’s quickly forgotten. And then you'l have the hard and delightful job to raise your child with love and care. What a job!
Being a teacher is indeed one of the most rewarding jobs ever. How can we forget students who hug you, bring you flowers, a bar of chocolate or simply smile sweetly? What about when you meet former students, and years later and they recognise you, come to you and say: ‘She was one of the best teachers I've had”. Not to mention those very few students who became teachers because of you? I have some who are now my colleagues working at the same school. It’s priceless and I'm one of those cases. I became a teacher inspired by my second grade teacher (see the photo below) who passed away less than two years ago and who I had the pleasure to meet after 38 years. How wonderful!
Image from Roseli Serra personal files
Teaching is a treat for the soul, isn't it? If it is not, we should not teach. And if it is, then it is necessary that, ideally, our learners feel the same pleasure from our teaching. If not, perhaps we have failed our mission in some way, as the cook who intended to offer pleasure, but the food was too salty or burnt. Perhaps it’s time to stop and reflect our mission as educators and teachers. Perhaps it's time for another change.
But if you were born to be a teacher and if you love what to do, you will not give up. Like me, you’ll insist on teaching and educating people.
Someone once said: “A master is born from the exuberance of happiness”. So when asked about their profession, teachers should be brave enough to say "I am a pastor of joy ..."
But, of course, only your students can attest the truth of this statement.
Last but not least: “Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.” (Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed).
Image by Hana Tichá - from eltpics
Enjoy your teaching!
Happy teacher’s Day!