On the eve of Teachers' Day, I rented out the DVD Dangerous Minds but I only got to watch it just now.
I've watched it before but it was years back. Now that I'm a teacher, the movie struck a deeper chord in me.
When Louanne decides to quit, she had this conversation with her colleague:
Louanne: I feel so bad about leaving I can hardly breathe.
Hal Griffith: I know, but-Oh, what the hell. You're right. You gotta be crazy to stay here and teach these programme classes. There is no money. It's killer work.
Louanne: Why do you stay?
Hal Griffith: Why do I smoke? I'm crazy.
Teaching is hard and those who do it are superheroes. Yes, I'm masuk-bakul-angkat-sendiri (blowing own trumpet) but it's Teachers' Day so I can get away with it :p
Effective teachers have superpowers because as Donald D. Quin so eloquently explains:
"If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn't want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher's job"
So why do people choose to be a teacher and STAY in the profession?
One of my best friends, Ainur, sent me an SMS which reads: [Teaching is] experiencing the highest of highs and the lowest of lows".
For me one of the highs of being a teacher is seeing my kids' bright smiles every day. Of course, not everybody smiles; some sulk, some look the other way, some are indifferent... But those who do smile & wave & greet you with such joy, - they make you feel that you're not such a bad teacher/person after all.
Another high is getting the students rapt in attention in your lessons. This does not happen often (at least not in my case!) but when it does, it's pure magic. In such moments, you feel like you can impart anything and it will stay with them for a long time (instead of in one ear and out the other). And when you impart to them these life lessons and see some of them nodding their heads imperceptibly, you feel like one of the wisest sages to walk the earth. Haha.
Further, when your kids appreciate what you're doing, it means A LOT. There was this one time when a lesson went very well and when it ended, a student came up to me and said; "Thank you Teacher. I've really learnt a lot today".
Those few words really made my day :')
If you look at the literature, there are many qualities that a great teacher should possess (e.g. creativity, flexibility, sense of humour, passion, etc) but I think, as in life, the two most important characteristics are PATIENCE and PERSEVERANCE.
So, hang in there if you're going through a particularly tough time right now... Remember, after hardship, comes ease :)
Oh, I forgot to mention another definite high of being a teacher: You get presents on Teachers' Day! Yippee!
P.S. If my kids are reading this, I want you to know how much I love you guys!