4 October 2012

To Those I Used to Know

Every year since 1994,  World Teacher's Day, a day set aside by UNESCO,  is held on 5th October to celebrate teachers around the world. Although this year the celebration falls during my weekend, it is still a day I remember and would like to share. 

There are times when, yes, teaching may feel like this: an overwhelming, almost impossible task - whether it is engaging learners at primary, secondary or tertiary education. How to capture a learner's attention, curiosity and to focus on learning is not necessarily an easy task - whether with digital tech or without. 

Teaching it itself is not a simple, straight-forward activity either. A smooth, "perfect" lesson plan is (in my eyes) nothing more than motions in a list. Every classroom has its own culture, but the lesson itself cannot be mere mechanics. As every experienced teacher is aware, there are learning opportunities which arise and which have not always been included in that "perfect" lesson plan; there are questions which need to be addressed, moments of silence which need to be respected, laughter and jokes to share.  Just like any other eco-system, classrooms flow, are alive and cannot be limited to a mechanical outlined lesson, no matter how "perfect" that lesson may be. 

In turn, this is does not mean that chaos reigns, for there is order in cultures and chaos.

Every classroom, each lesson, will have its rituals and patterns, contributing to its unique culture. 

It is within this scope that teachers tread the fine line of making educational use of the disruptions to their lesson plans that (again, in my eyes) often characterise excellent educators. 

For this year's World Teacher's Day, I would like to share my wishes for teachers:

* Don't be afraid of those unexpected learning moments which may seem disruptive but in fact, reflect the learning desire of students;

* Share with colleagues. For every great lesson plot, digital tool, analogue diagram, lesson failure, lesson achievement, there is someone who has felt the same and has a gem of experience to share back. If teachers do not share and talk among themselves, how will they learn themselves? Who will treasure their examples, experiences and understand so clearly what it means to be a teacher?

* Be fearless when introducing new digital tools and devices. There will be glitches, and these too are worthwhile learning examples for students. Often there will be a student who has the opportunity to shine as he/she solves a glitch or gives a helpful suggestion. An example which comes to mind is an incident which happened in one of my lessons this very week: the IWB was not registering the letters I was typing and yes, it did occur to me that I had not previously checked if the IWB was aligned. I could have aligned it immediately, but instead, I waited that extra minute to see if any student would come up with a valuable solution. And so a student did - not just any student, but one who had been disruptive on several occasions. By praising her positive contribution to the lesson, her attitude changed from being disruptive to being an engaged, collaborative member of the class. A mere trifle of an example and one which happens to all of us, yet it is another reminder of how to draw out students from their invisible walls and become participating members. And an example of real life - glitches happen. 

As a gift to teachers and learners, my suggestion for today is 21 Things 4 Students - a treasure box of educational resources. 

From Digital Footprints to Interactive tasks, there is a wealth of ideas to explore and introduce in classrooms. 

Teaching and learning are not solitary experiences in life. To all those who taught me, inspired me, guided me, my deepest gratitude. To all those who teach me, interact with me, inspire me and guide me on a daily basis, my sincere thank you - 

You bring light and lightness to my fast moving world of education and classrooms. 

And as someone who uses digital technology everyday in classrooms, my special thanks to all those who contribute to helping teachers with their tech expertise. 

Further reference:

Teaching, Educating, Thanking

Demand High ELT 

What are your wishes for this World Teacher's Day?

photo credit: overwhelmed in light via photopin (license)


  1. Cristina - lovely thoughts, that I have on this day decided to redistribute to my students tomorrow as they are finishing their time with me, and moving onto another level/teacher/course. I hope that you think this is an appropriate response to your generous sharings?
    I am going to recalibrate these a little to become 'Don't be afraid of taking the moment to ask your teacher a question......; Be fearless (coz this is superbly fabulous no matter who / what you are), and Share with your peers (and this is pretty much the same).
    I think my students will be as inspired by these words as I have been with yours.
    From someone you used to know,

  2. Hi Kristin (who is not easily forgotten),

    You couldn't possibly have honoured me more by your kind words and remembering me!

    Being fearless is not always easy, especially as one grows older and perhaps wiser, (do we really?) but there is nothing like being oneself and not being afraid to question, to take the fleeting opportunities in life and as always, to learn.

    Thank you for visiting and sharing your thoughts - have a wonderful Teacher's Day! Your students are so lucky to have a superb educator like yourself :-)