As a teacher, it is important to continually grow and learn in order to help your students do the same. One of the most valuable things I have learned as a teacher is how to learn as a teacher. Particularly, learning from other teachers.
A Hard Lesson to Learn
When I first started working at Prague Youth Theatre, I had a huge amount of drama training and had worked with young people in various creative capacities. I was a little overconfident and gave the impression that I did not need support. On my first day I was presented with forty kids aged seven to eleven with various levels of English and a LOT of energy. The class was almost impossible for me to manage.
I felt like a failure – like there had been some huge mistake in giving me the job. I couldn’t believe I had found it so difficult based on my background. My confidence was shaken which then affected my other classes that day. Initially I wanted to shy away from the task and pass the responsibility to my colleagues. I decided not to be defeated, I wanted to learn to be better.
Remembering How to Learn
I began researching new games and techniques and added a huge amount to my repertoire. I looked online and read books and tried different things in my classroom. At this time I was still hesitant to ask for advice as I felt this made me look incompetent.
I made note of the drama games that my colleagues played and started to pick up on successful classroom management techniques. I was reluctant to appear as though I was ‘copying’ and to use the same tools, but eventually tried out ‘Who’s Talking?’ which was an instant success.
When I began assisting with the three to five year old students, I learned a huge amount from their veteran teacher. As an assistant I felt safe to learn from my colleague without appearing incompetent. In time, this become one of my strongest age groups.
When my colleague left I was able to take over the group using her successful techniques and adding my own. After this experience, I slowly but surely had to swallow my pride and learn from my colleagues. As soon as I did I became an infinitely better teacher. Learning from other teachers is one of the best things you can do for yourself AND your students.
All in it Together
Today I was working at The British Council Summer Camp in Prague. A colleague who will be teaching at the camp from next week came to visit my class to gauge the dynamics and make notes on what activities and techniques did/didn’t work. The camp hold two drama classes simultaneously so at the beginning of each day, the other drama teacher and I compare lesson plans and add in any of each other’s ideas that look to be successful.
In my experience, the biggest problem facing many teachers is their hesitance to continue learning. As a new teacher consulting with other teachers can feel like saying ‘I don’t know what I’m doing.’
With many experienced teachers there can be an attitude of ‘I know better, I have been doing this for a long time.’ However, often I find the most original ideas come from teachers who are less experienced and are not set in their ways.
Practise what you preach
If you are asking your students to open their minds and learn, be prepared to do the same. There is always more to know.
The priority should always be the best interest of the students. Put aside your own pride and realise that you and your teammates have the same goal and are stronger together.
I will continue to share all that I learn here in the hopes that it proves valuable to others. If you would like to join our community, contribute your ideas and help other teachers continue to grow!