How do you describe teaching? Is it a job? a career? or a profession?
I feel teaching is way beyond just a profession. Teaching is the art of moulding young lives. Teaching is not just about giving knowledge but the skill of transforming that knowledge into a lifelong learning experience. It requires a tremendous amount of thinking, planning, researching, risk-taking, and decision making to bring the best innovative teaching practices to the classrooms!
Teaching is an adventure for real! It is like a roller-coaster ride where you encounter unexpected turns and drops, coupled with unbelievable excitement. A teacher’s day is never predictable; each day is different, each group of students have its own temperament, and each lesson is unique.
Teaching is the craft of sailing smoothly, even when the winds are rough! Teaching is the skill of displaying balance and calm amidst the chaos. Teaching is not just about training others but also training ourselves throughout the journey. Yes, it is indeed a journey to self-discovery!
STUDENTS ARE NOT THE ONLY ONES LEARNING IN THE CLASSROOM!
One of the perks of teaching is that we are privileged to learn almost as much as our students. Every day brings opportunities to increase our knowledge and understanding of the real world—to get a deeper appreciation of the lives of children and a greater sense of our own purpose in life.
This is what I call “METAMORPHOSIS OF AN EDUCATOR.”
We progress through a series of developmental stages, increasing our abilities and skills along the way by facing unique challenges every day. As in any developmental model, the stages are somewhat fluid and barely distinct; it is totally possible to skip a stage, just as it is likely some teachers never move beyond a certain level.
EGG – ‘The Would-Be Teacher‘
Who wants to be a teacher in the first place? I never wanted to be one.
Nowadays, the teaching profession is somehow unappreciated and not as rewarding as before. Parents long to see their children as doctors and engineers, and children look for even more fancy careers.
However, some rare species of young people are passionate about taking teaching as their career. Their teachers so profoundly influence them that they admire teaching and live their entire lives as teachers. Moreover, these kids constantly display teachers’ attributes and show great interest in sharing their knowledge with friends and family.
At school, they are a big help to their teachers. They support teachers in writing notes, objectives and, sometimes, even checking if peers are on task or not. In addition, they like to be engaged in-class activities such as peer teaching, reading, and problem-solving.
They closely observe their teachers and try to act like them. They are the teachers in the making!
THEY ALL WANT TO BECOME TEACHERS IN THE FIRST PLACE BECAUSE THEY WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD.
CATERPILLAR – ‘The Energetic Teacher‘
The caterpillar has come out of the egg and entered the massive teaching world.
THEY HAVE A SERIOUS APPETITE TO GAIN AND LEARN AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.
Such teachers are independent thinkers and risk-takers and take on new responsibilities and challenges. In addition, they are highly energetic and often tend to display signs of impulsivity in their work. This stage is about trial and error and learning from those errors.
Teachers wonder how they can possibly learn all the school rules and remember each student’s faces with names. It feels like you are in “survival mode,” trying to overcome the challenge each day presents.
A common characteristic of caterpillars is that they have a strong foundation of subject knowledge but often struggle to convey it to pupils. They are new to pedagogy and teaching strategies, thus showing a high enthusiasm for learning. They are keen to learn everything about discipline policies, teaching practices, and assessments.
They like to experience working in diverse environments as they are flexible and open to new ideas and approaches.
However, if teachers don’t know how to channel their energy at this stage, they tend to feel overwhelmed and lose some of their initial passion and enthusiasm.
PUPA – ‘The Storing Teacher ‘
At this stage, teachers have learnt to overcome their hasty habits and have started storing their energy for productive outcomes. They began looking for other ways to broaden their horizons and tackle new challenges that would keep them afresh.
IT MAY LOOK LIKE NOTHING IS GOING ON, BUT BIG CHANGES ARE HAPPENING INSIDE!
They are in an incubation phase where they learn and grow through silent observations. Since will and determination are at their peak, most teachers tend to develop their best in this stage. This phase is the mid-career, where most teachers strive to polish their competencies and continuously reflect on their learning. They precisely notice the progress students are making and gain increasing confidence in their role as a teacher. These teachers’ most effective survival skills are the ability to go with the flow and learn to modify plans according to the moment’s need. If their first plan to deal with a student’s crisis, discipline problem, or classroom teaching doesn’t work out; they are ready with plans B, C, or D.
Teachers in this phase take various professional development sessions to gain first-hand experience of innovative teaching strategies and apply them to their students. They keep trying to change classroom dynamics with the skills they have acquired. They strive to be an educator who helps awaken students’ senses by motivating them to think out of the box! Consequently, they spend a lot of time and effort planning, preparing, implementing, and reflecting on their teaching and learning.
However, at this stage, many of us tend to slow down and show less interest in learning further. We start creating that ‘COMFORT ZONE’ where we don’t urge to challenge ourselves with any new endeavour.
IT IS AN ALARMING SITUATION WHEN WE GET ENCLOSED IN THAT COCOON AND CONTINUE STAYING THERE.
If teachers keep their positive energy high at this stage, later years of their work-life will become a smooth sail!
BUTTERFLY – ‘The Transformed Teacher ‘
You have finally evolved and transformed into a beautiful butterfly!
FOR YOU, TEACHING IS NOT JUST A PROFESSION; IT IS YOUR AWAKENING!
You have learnt valuable lessons from past experiences that have transformed you into a great teacher ready to fly in the endless sky!
You have acquired a level of wisdom that others see you as a mentor. It is rewarding when people approach you often for advice or feedback.
You are an asset who can contribute a lot to your workplace and society. You can think creatively and critically, collaborate, and share your experiences with your colleagues to bring the desired outcomes to your organization. In addition, you believe to be incredibly resourceful and like to utilize your expertise by taking appropriate leadership roles.
You have reached great heights in your career, and it is wonderful to see how many lives you have touched so far! Your perspective now encourages you to see the big picture in education. You crave to bring changes to the world around you by transforming your experience into action and reflection.
You are no longer just tied to your institution; you feel committed to the global teaching fraternity. Consequently, you support them by sharing your unique ideas and perspectives in education. Positive energy and consciousness play a significant role in driving you constantly to evolve as an educator and progress within and beyond your profession.
You are enthusiastic about moving further and developing as a teacher who never stops learning. But, on the contrary, some veteran teachers at this stage appear so burned out with their jobs, waiting out the years until retirement. They have now lost the passion that kept them moving forward all these years!
LET THE FIRE OF CURIOSITY BE THERE TO ALIGHT YOUR WORK LIFE!
What transformation can a ‘Butterfly’ bring to an organization?
They are the ‘Role models’ as they strive to bring the following changes:
- Work towards the bigger goal to enhance students’ conceptual understanding.
- Brainstorm bright minds and keep them fully engaged not to feel bored.
- Encourage students to identify the problem, facilitate exploration and guide them to reflect upon their understanding.
- Take care of the diverse needs of students by finding meaningful opportunities for all kinds of learners.
- Keep students engaged with constructive projects and help them develop creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration skills.
- Find possibilities of ‘Interdisciplinary Teaching’ by finding meaningful connections between diverse disciplines.
- Mentor new teachers in preparing teaching activities, lesson plans and reviewing the curriculum.
- Collaborate with the global teaching community towards bringing positive changes into education.
- Build professional development courses and educational resources for the teachers.
When you pass through these developmental stages, there will be your best as well as the worst times. Just as any other adventure, a teacher’s journey is filled with trials too. Often, we feel lost, at the crossroads, without an accurate working map. There are obstacles to overcome and challenges to face, but at the same time, you witness exciting new experiences. The meaningful relationships we develop with many of our students, parents, and colleagues are best of all.
In your teaching journey, whether you are an egg, a caterpillar, or a pupa, learn from each milestone and enjoy the process. If you appreciate the change and learn from those experiences, your transformation into a Butterfly shall be as smooth as ever!
“To become a Butterfly, Metamorphosis is necessary. If the caterpillar never went through this process of change, it would never achieve its great destiny and become its most glorious self!”Anonymous