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Life of a teacher

A teacher can play many roles in their lifetime. The ancients used to rever their educators, with many historical societies sending their children off to live with teachers for years. Teachers thus played the role of parent, guide and educator, all in one. The modern student may not live with their teacher, but the modern teacher’s role isn’t vastly different to their predecessors – only the context has changed.

 

“If kids come to us from strong, healthy functioning families, it makes our job easier. If they do not come to us from strong, healthy, functioning families, it makes our job more important.” – Barbara Colorose

 

Much of a teacher’s job involves observing: recognising those who need a helping hand and those who need a patient ear. Colorose’s words resonate with many teachers who reach out to children with dysfunctional backgrounds. There are teachers in the world who work in war-torn countries, and those who teach in remote parts of the world where children struggle to eat. Some teachers manage classrooms bursting with boisterous children, and some spend hours and hours a week on lesson plans to stay ahead of schedule – only to have to start all over again when the format changes without notice. There are also teachers dedicated to working with children with learning difficulties. Each of them are equally important, and we’ve put together a list of 8 aspects of a teacher’s life to acknowledge their important contributions to education.

 

1. Parenting.

Most kids spend three-quarters of their waking hours in school with their teachers. Many teachers therefore take on several responsibilities associated with being a parent, whether it’s the simple things – such as teaching children good manners and respect – or the more complicated ones, such as looking out for their physical and mental well-being or keeping an eye out for hidden signs of distress.

Most kids spend three-quarters of their waking hours in school with their teachers. Many teachers therefore take on several responsibilities associated with being a parent, whether it’s the simple things – such as teaching children good manners and respect – or the more complicated ones, such as looking out for their physical and mental well-being or keeping an eye out for hidden signs of distress.

 

2. Managing patience.

Teachers tend to run a daily marathon in terms of patience. This doesn’t just apply to the students, though ‒ teachers have to deal with ever-changing state, educational and school policies; they have to cope with the possibility of sacrificing yet another weekend to lesson planning, they have to accept that there’s no space in the budget for the school trip they spent weeks planning; they have to deal with parental expectations… The list goes on.

 

3. Multitasking.

All teachers juggle multiple tasks every single day. Primary teachers, in particular, have to teach several subjects, which means extensive lesson planning along with huge amounts of marking and feedback. Often, this results in teachers covering subjects or areas that they have little to no experience in. Which takes us to the next point…

 

4. Learning on the go.

Teaching a subject requires you to learn first: no teacher is born with a knowledge bank that stretches from photosynthesis to classroom pedagogy. Researching the subjects to be taught involves a lot of study and continuing professional development (CPD) sessions.

 

5. Protector.

A role most people often don’t associate with teachers, and yet many teachers are natural protectors of their students: they not only take care of their students’ intellect and mental wellbeing, but also their safety. In the simplest scenarios, this involves making sure students cross the road safely on a class trip and wear appropriate safety equipment during science experiments. Unfortunately, sometimes this responsibility can stretch to safeguarding a student from school bullies or even from an abusive parent.

 

6. Low pay, high pressure.

Ask any teacher and you will learn that they work far more than their scheduled hours and way beyond their job descriptions – all without overtime. They bear the pressure from state policies, educational reforms, school policies, parental expectations and their own personal lives. Add this to the fact that most teaching jobs are notoriously poorly paid, and you can see that finding success as a teacher is often a labour of love and determination.

 

7. The power to change lives.

Katherine Johnson – the woman responsible for manually calculating the trajectory of the first spaceship launch, and many further NASA missions – was influenced by her school geometry teacher and her college professor. Both encouraged her and guided her towards success in life. Luckily, Johnson is just one example of many. Studies continue to show the profound influence teachers have on their students when it comes to choosing careers.

Katherine Johnson – the woman responsible for manually calculating the trajectory of the first spaceship launch, and many further NASA missions – was influenced by her school geometry teacher and her college professor. Both encouraged her and guided her towards success in life. Luckily, Johnson is just one example of many. Studies continue to show the profound influence teachers have on their students when it comes to choosing careers.

 

8. Little glory.

Let’s face it, there are no accolades to being a teacher. There are no songs sung, no trumpets blown, and the movies don’t even come close to what it’s really like to be a teacher. And yet it’s one of the most influential jobs in the world. The next time you question if it’s all worth it, though, do remember you have a whole office full of people at Twig Education who are always rooting for you!

Front View Of A Cute Boy Doing Yoga On A Bench

Five ways to help you (and your students!) remember things

The importance of formalised assessment tests in recent years has led to a competitive race between nations to get top marks. How does this affect students who are already struggling with examinations and the pressure to do well? There’s now evidence pointing to the rise in exam stress and mental problems among primary school students sitting exams.

 

A lot of examination stress stems from the sheer pressure to do well – and, as a result, many students experience temporary memory block during exams, where they struggle to remember what they have learnt. People also often have trouble remembering things because memory is related to concentration, which means that multitasking can actually lead to forgetfulness. With this in mind, it would hardly be surprising to learn that many teachers suffer a certain degree of forgetfulness: they deal with tremendous pressure, mounting workloads, student concerns and parental expectations, a host of administrative duties, lesson planning and preparation, and marking. Teachers are constantly juggling several things at once. While we can’t really reduce the amount we need to memorise on a day-to-day basis, we do have some control on how we choose to manage it. Here are five ways to ease the memory load and help your students to remember things too!

 

1. Visual learning

One study conducted by neuroscientists at MIT shows that the human brain can process entire images that the eye sees for as little as 13 milliseconds – the first evidence of such rapid processing speed. There’s also evidence that visuals are directly stored in the long-term memory, as opposed to words, which get stored in the short-term memory. This information, coupled with the fact that nearly 65% of the population are visual learners, means that integrating visuals can not only help us learn better but faster. There are several ways we can integrate visual learning, such as by using images or drawing pictures, but the easiest is through educational films. It makes a great revision tool too, as long as the visual content is in line with what you’re reading.

2. Memory tree

Here’s what we know: it’s easier to remember a lot of information when it is broken down into a number of much smaller pieces of information. It’s also easier for the brain to take in this information if it’s represented in the form of a diagram (just look at how successful Mindmaps are). Finally, building connections between existing knowledge and new knowledge helps us to learn more effectively. How can we compound this information into one great strategy to improve our memory recall? We use a memory tree! Start with the trunk: draw a basic line or two to mark out a concept, then move on to connect the branches – ideas that are linked to the main concept. Each new idea forms a new branch attached to the trunk. Eventually, as you learn more or read further, you can build on your ideas by attaching leaves to the corresponding branch.

3. Repeat, repeat, repeat

We are not fans of rote learning, nor do we recommend it. What we do believe in, however, is revision. If students learn information efficiently, a couple of revision sessions should be more than enough to retain that information for a long time. But it is important to choose the right method of revision – too often, educators are kept busy focusing on innovative teaching methods to pay much attention to revision. And if revision is a chore, students won’t do it – or worse, do it in an ineffective manner, wasting their own time. Fortunately, there are easy and fun ways to incorporate revision into the lesson that allows you to gauge how much students have learnt, and serve to reinforce concepts in students’ minds. Educational quizzes, games, classroom discussions and activities are all great examples of revision tools. You can even use educational films again to help the class revise!

4. Practical tasks

As the old Chinese proverb goes: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” Converting classroom lessons into hands-on, physical activities is a great way to learn. Educational experts call it kinesthetic learning: learning through physical activities. If your school doesn’t have a large lab to accommodate a myriad of experiments, don’t worry. There are lots of activities that can be done by a simple run around the school backyard or even local trips into the city.

5. Love what you learn

It might sound like a cliché, but we really do remember what we are truly interested in. Ever wonder why you forget phone numbers but can quote your favourite song word for word? It’s entirely down to how much it interests you. So the trick to getting your students to remember scientific facts? Get them to love science. It might not initially seem the easiest thing to do, but the rewards are well worth the effort!