As I said much earlier, my teaching role model is different from the Crazy Writer from Hell. Now I will feature the person who triggered my epiphany of teaching. She was my junior year chemistry teacher from three years ago, Ms. Reese. Like me, she was very petite and soft spoken, a quality that tends to hurt teachers, especially young ones like her, as she was only twenty-six years old and in her third year of teaching. Many students in my class walked all over her and attempted to take advantage of her because of her size and soft voice. But she was a fabulous teacher! I’m a person who can’t retain any information that involves numbers, which is a prominent part of chemistry. I got an A in Ms. Reese’s class, just one percent lower then A+, and higher than I would have ever dreamed for a math related class. Ms. Reese managed to pound numbers into my head.
Now that I’m an education student, I’ve learned much of the philosophy behind why Ms. Reese was such a good teacher. She was able to compose herself in times of trouble, which is why she never bent when my classmates would attempt to take advantage of her. But she has also taught me some things to do in classroom management that I should do, that she didn’t. Classroom management, unfortunately, is one of the hardest parts of teaching, because you can’t learn how to manage a classroom full of teenagers in a college class. You need to experience it firsthand and go to the books, or do anything to get the class’s attention. Obviously, teachers aren’t allowed to physically force students to do anything, nor can they use physical discipline, so they do have to get creative with how they manage their students.
One teaching strategy she would use that I really benefitted from was building on prior knowledge. It’s a valuable teaching tool that many teachers today tend to neglect. In Africa, I always asked my students what they knew about a subject before I decided where I would start my lesson.
There are some students that teachers call “reluctant learners,” and we’ve probably all seen them. They have no motivation, no interest, and no care. They don’t always listen, and when they do, they’re uncooperative. They can also be the goofballs in the class that attempt to distract everyone else. No teacher wants to say they have bad students, but reluctant learners make it somewhat true. We had a few reluctant learners in my chemistry class, and that’s when I knew Ms. Reese was trying to hit the books on discipline, but most of the time the kids just didn’t listen to her. When this happens, teachers need to be able to break persona, or do something unlike them. It startles the students and makes the teacher appear unpredictable to them, and therefore, in control.