I was not exactly a teacher's pet in school, but I was in Student Council and I did fairly well in my studies, so I wouldn't say I was the sort of student to give teachers a hard time. In fact, I thought that teachers were just genetically programmed to be patient, selfless, kind and knowledgeable. To me, teachers had the answer to everything, they could solve the little problems and they are always undaunted. Or perhaps these are just the teachers I was blessed with. This is what I thought.
Until I became a teacher myself. I never really thought I would end up as one, but growing up, I have always had an image of myself teaching poetry to children while they sit on the greenest grass amidst a blue-grey sky. I don't know why that image stuck with me, but I have always had this idea of myself as a storyteller and someone who works well with children. Alhamdulillah, I have been teaching at a childcare for five years, and while it is tiring and definitely both physically and mentally challenging, it is infinitely rewarding. Here are 8 things I definitely embrace as a teacher:
1. The children. Oh, yes, children are cute and adorable and loveable when you take them in small doses. Visiting relatives, the children of your colleagues and cuddly newborns. But put 15 or so of them together in a classroom and they could either make you laugh or cry. Honestly, to me though, no matter how they behave, I have always had a soft spot for them. They are innocent and simply wonderful, bright learners who never fail to make me smile or laugh every single day. From the toddlers who want to give me a high five, a kiss or a hug to the older children who leak surprises their parents have in store for me, I can never be truly angry with children.
2. Stories.I am an avid reader and writer. I write poems and stories, and I love reading them. So to be surrounded by stories and be around children who enjoy listening to stories is a delight for me. It never fails to amaze me how these children are willing to listen to the same story over and over again, requesting to hear The Gruffalo or We're Going on a Bear Hunt, and then learning the words as they listen to the stories again. I think stories are always important in bringing people closer together, and to make a living by reading lovely stories to these hungry learners...it is MashaAllah indeed a blessing.
3. Good Manners. As teachers, especially those who instill learning and moral values to such young children, it is important to incorporate good manners as well. And as we teach, we practise good manners as well. I see teachers who are proactive and helpful even outside of work, always there to lend a helping hand and never thinking about the rewards. Saying please and thank you, and always smiling and greeting. These are definitely part of good manners, which are truly important as Muslims as well. As Prophet Muhammad salallahu 'alayhi wassalam said, "I guarantee a house in Jannah for one who gives up arguing, even if he is in the right, and I guarantee a house in the middle of Jannah for one who abandons lying even if he is joking, and I guarantee a house in the highest part of Jannah for one who has good manners."
4. Playtime. You would think that playing and running and sliding at the playground is just mindless play, but these are the little moments where we actually instill learning towards our children. We teach them patience, perseverance and more importantly, about how having fun in these growing years is just as important as learning. They learn to share, take turns and even role play with their friends while playing, and when you get in on that too, this is when you really develop a bond with the children. And that is a great gift.
5. Healthy Living. Oh, you would definitely develop a healthier lifestyle from lugging mattresses or bags, from running around during physical education lessons (or when a child gets out of control, your call), or even from jumping and hopping during music and movement. It is all these physical movements that take up your energy but at the same time it beats sitting around at a desk (I used to do this LOL). Plus you eat fruits and clear soups, all day, everyday. Well...except during...
6. Celebrations. And when you work in any school setting, you celebrate everything and anything with food, fun and games. Especially food. Get ready for all-year access to lots of cakes, chocolates and candies! While this may not be everyone's cup of tea, it is a delight to have something sweet, a wonderful break or reward. Plus, it is always a delight to get to celebrate the children's birthdays. Parties and celebrations are a norm when it comes to any school settings, and being there for the children during this eventful time is something that the children would truly treasure.
7. Seeking Knowledge. It is important for us to learn, read and learn more. And this does not apply to just teachers. We should be constantly on the prowl for knowledge, to constantly be on the lookout to learn something new that we can share with those around us. It could be a new language, a new skill or even a new way to do things. As teachers, we are planning lessons that suit the children's needs, and I have learnt to do things I never knew before I became a teacher. Teaching a child to hold a pencil or to invent sentences using sight words...these are important in building a child's foundation. And to be part of a team who instill this knowledge to children is a great responsibility and an even greater blessing.
8. Fellow Teachers. Honestly, our fellow teachers help to shape us to be better teachers as well. We learn, we love and we laugh with each other throughout the day. I am especially grateful that I have colleagues whom I can share worries and concerns with, and whom I can laugh and joke with. It is not easy to find colleagues who are also friends, whom you can hang out with after a long day at work. Alhamdulillah for this blessed job!
It may be a calling, a hidden talent or simply a way to pay the bills but above all, being a teacher is a great blessing. So on this day, I would like to wish all teachers and educators, or anyone at all who has imparted the slightest skill or knowledge to another person, a very happy teachers' day! :)