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My personal teaching experience “Onderwys is lewe wek”. This was the motto of the Teachers Training College where I studied for four years. A direct translation is “Teaching creates life”. That was my starting point but little did I know what was lurking behind those words. Studying full time for four years to prepare for the “Real world” was only a few drops in the bucket. I did not know that teaching was not just about learning and regurgitating facts, creating a lovely atmosphere where everyone would be a person or a character from the story “The Waltons”, or having “Kumbaya” moments on the carpet every day. Day 1 quickly showed me that I knew nothing about being responsible for 24 students’ lives and my life. Suddenly the fairy wheels of practical teaching came off as well as the gloves, pads and mouth guards. It was “Game on”. Days after the “Big Bang” I was still startled by the shuddering effects of my landing gear but now I had to prepare and get ready for the first ever parents meeting of my career. What to say? What not to say? What if this? What if that? “Mr Swart, you are not a first language English speaker and the pupils are saying that there are many words that you don’t know. How are you going to address that?” coming from one of the concerned mothers. Air gushing from my previously filled up lungs, forced its way through my teeth, creating a hissing effect. “I am busy studying all the textbooks, yes, I grew up with a different mother tongue but I can assure you that your children will not be affected negatively.” I did not just spit out the whole sentence but instead I had to carve out every word individually. It was a rough start but I started working on a new game plan. After twenty-three years of teaching, I have made thorough studies of all the different dynamics and mechanics of the school system. I looked at the whole school set up with the same interest as a Scientist, carefully studying a complex ecosystem. I was fortunate enough to teach in poor, low class communities, middle class communities and then the very elite upper class schools. Parents play a vital role in the performance of the school as well as the discipline and atmosphere at school. It does not matter where the school is situated but what matters is parent involvement in the school system. Parents must not dictate but support the structure that is provided by the school. When parents support the school, discipline becomes easy to employ or implement and the code of conduct becomes a legal and binding document. When the correct procedures are followed, the school becomes like a well-oiled machine. When schools are neat and tidy; buildings and facilities well cared for, and students are proud of their uniforms, a “happy”school is created. “Happy” schools influence communities around them, and that is the way to create a great brand or name that will attract like-minded people. This will then create a demand for acceptance at the school. Waiting lists for these schools become longer and badly behaved students are dealt with appropriately. These schools don’t take in any type or calibre of student just to get the fees to run and manage the school. The classroom is the place where it is make or break. This is the place where the school is marketed in a positive or negative way. I have played around with different techniques to create a “backdrop” for my “painting”. I firstly bring pot plants into the class, I put A3 size colour printings of different islands on the wall, I burn nice smelling oils, I fill the wall up with interesting teaching topics as well as competition charts for the different areas of the subject or subjects. At times, I also play soft music in the background. I love starting the session with friendly greeting and wait for everyone to focus before I allow them to sit. I normally do not allow any movement and talking as I brief the students about the lesson and lesson goals. Then the “A” game starts. Over the years, I had to acquire many different skills, methods or techniques to create a positive learning environment. I will mention a few: You need to be passionate, relatable, use practical explanations, use different or out of the ordinary resources, be innovative, be strategic, well organized, create interest in the area that is studies at that point, help students reach their optimal level, use an effective disciplinary system as well as a special reward system, make use of humour because at times during sessions, you get to understand the saying: “You cant flog a dead horse”. Jokes can get out of hand especially when jokes become personal. Being in control even if something is not completely in your control becomes second nature. The way you speak, act, sing and play around also brings some “fresh air” into a sometimes “dull” setting. Sometimes you get students that come to you after a double Mathematic lesson, we all know what that feels like. As teachers, we also need to stay motivated and sane. Choosing your break time destination can seriously affect the outcome of your day. In most schools, “dark clouds of pessimism” hang over the innocent bystanders. These are the moments where canines and talons are exposed and where the backstabbing daggers are sharpened and meticulously placed into the unexpected victims’ backs. Is there a survival kit for teachers? I will use this rhetorical question to conclude my findings on the path I travelled over the years and where I gained my teaching experience.