Monday, February 20, 2012

The Magical Moment When You Know

I can remember the moment that I knew I was a teacher as if it had happened yesterday. It was half way through my student teaching experience at Sefton Park primary school in Bristol, England in the Spring of 1972. I was teaching a science lesson to thirty-four 4th grade students and I had to write a lot of information on the blackboard for the students to write down before we did the science activity. The blackboard was actually painted on to the plaster wall of the classroom and I remember having to carefully write around small divots and craters in the wall where sharp objects such as board compasses,  had been jabbed into it during the previous 70 or so years. This was long before photocopying and
at a time when handwriting was practiced during many different subjects including science.

I directed the students to copy what I was writing into their science notebooks and proceeded to write on the blackboard for the next five minutes. I was so intent on missing the wall "divots" that I didn't turn around once. When I had finished writing I finally turned around to discover that all the students were still sitting in their places and had almost managed to keep up with my writing. Just a few stragglers took less than a minute to finish. This was my magic moment when I knew I could teach. Even with my back turned to them the students did what I asked them. I had motivated them to write and complete the activity. There have been many, many times since that day that my ability to teach has been reconfrmed by the achievements of my students and comments from others, not to say that I still don't have much to learn.

Last week I was lucky and privileged enough to be present when one of my student teachers experienced this magical moment. She was teaching a math lesson and the students were totally into what she was doing. Suddenly, she stopped speaking, gave a huge smile and told the students they were being so good. From observing her I could tell that she could not have stopped herself doing this; it was as if her inner soul was letting the world know that she could teach; so overcome was she that her dream of becoming a teacher was now a reality.

Every successful teacher has had one of these magical moments.    

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