I don’t get to teach regularly these days, but if a teacher doesn’t turn up, I step into the classroom. Wednesday morning was such a time. As I walked to the classroom from my office, shaking out my metaphorical teacher’s clothes and hat and hurriedly putting them on, thoughts of what needed doing flashed through my mind. It doesn’t matter how many times I walk towards a classroom of expectant students, my nerves jangle and my heart races. It is surely the one profession that hangs its members right out in the public domain and holds them up to scrutiny. A blase teacher is no teacher; but NOT having the protection of “blase” leaves one exposed and vulnerable and very often panic-stricken. “What can I do? What can I do? What is going to happen this time? How will I deal with it?” are some of the less fraught questions that punch through to consciousness.
Prepare the board – focus the mind. Concentrate on the working surfaces. Watch your hand write “Communication Objectives”, “Grammatical Objectives”, “Pronunciation”. Put up the date. Turn to face the class – smile – make eye-contact – meet them on a human level. Enquire, empathise, share. Start the class.
And this Wednesday, another thing asked for recognition. I realised that my students shared experiences that I knew nothing of. They had formed their own little exclusive club – membership restricted – and that made them feel united and close and able to face the unfamilar together – getting strength and courage from their shared experience. As their teacher, I was an outsider.
And that’s as it should be…..