Teach English in Beifan Zhen - Xiaogan Shi

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The popular saying which states: never judge a book by the cover has once again reminded me to always be optimistic about a new experience. Before I entered the school I had already concluded what a bad experience it would be in this new environment which I would pass on numerous occasions and hear different external noises coming from inside of the school, I imagined how hard the job of a teacher could possibly be. On Monday, September 3, 2018, the first day upon entering the second gate I was led by the security to a teacher namely Ms. Hamilton. She was the acting principal and a Grade Six teacher. She escorted me to the morning’s usual devotional exercise. I was introduced to the student population and academic staff. I felt welcomed and optimistic at the same time. When devotion ended, I was directed to the Grade 2 block to meet my new students. I was extremely excited and energetic to see the students who would be entrusted into my care. While standing at the door as Ms. Barrett was sweeping, I glanced around for the other Grade 2 teachers. However, they were but absent from school for my first week. Ms. Barrett then instructed me that she will be placing me into her classroom which is Grade 2 P as she would be transferred into a neighboring class. I placed my bag on the desk and observed my new students. The entire week with just one classroom teacher was hectic and stressing. I went home with constant headaches. Nevertheless, my headaches proved to be a small milestone after realizing how much I had achieved with my students. In my second week, I tried as best as possible to use manipulatives and teaching aids to teach and incorporate them within my lessons taught, because from my studies done it had been proven crucial that with the use of manipulatives or concrete objects it improves and allows the students’ to retain the information that is learned and discovered longer. This premise is according to the theory of the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget, he reported that for a learner to comprehend and handle a concept at the abstract or symbolic level successfully, he or she must first understand the conception at the other two levels. So therefore by using concrete manipulatives or models, it is the first step that teachers can use to help and guide students to match their mental images and the models garnered to identify and learn from the concepts expressed to them. He further stated that when students demonstrate understanding with the concept at these physical or concrete, levels then they are ready to move unto the next level, where they can apply their knowledge using representations of the objects instead of the objects themselves. As such, in (1965) Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky (1962) and Jerome Brunner in their constructivism theory speaks about their support in the philosophy of learning that affirms that students and teachers alike question and build understanding and thus, sees the alternative way of tackling a problem as each of us as individual makes cognitive gains, so we inquire, collaborate and evolve using our different intelligences. I started new topics across all the subject areas for my given curriculum. In Mathematics, I started the topic of Tens and Ones. For the duration of this lesson, the students were participatory in the practical activity of manipulating the bottle caps (counters) when we were doing groupings. I was able to observe the students as they were able to follow my instructions, manipulate, discover and solve the problems placed on the board independently. As their class teacher, I felt encouraged by the students’ responses to the activity as they were able to use the manipulatives and answer correctly the questions that I asked them. Concomitantly, in the end, the follow-up activity they were given afterward had swollen my victory and turned it into mere defeat. I gave my students another activity, this time on the whiteboard it was as if my lesson was either not taught or executed properly. Within this time, I felt a little disappointed, as some of them still were encountering problems associating the abstract concept with the concrete. I realized that I needed to reteach my lesson by focusing more on the different learning abilities present in the class. Over the course of time that I was present at the institution, I tried my best to observe and think of methods that would help the students in my class to retain the information longer. As the school year progressed, my students' learning could be referred to that of a roller coaster as this minute it was up and the next it was down. For instance, there was this one boy in particular by the name of Romario whom I came to recognize that even though he was considered a slow learner, when a concept is explained to him he understood and retained it but once it was time to replicate it on paper; he faced a challenge. I assisted him by find memory games and allowing his parents to change his diet and fill it with foods that were known for memory retention. These changes proved frugal as I recall one incident in the class where I was questioning the students during a revision lesson, he was the only one who remembered what I had said. I felt so humbled as his class participation and grades improved throughout the school year. In my experience, as this essay will not cover the entire scope of all my experience, I can honestly close by saying that being a teacher though some individuals may find it tedious, has been a humbling and rewarding experience. Though these rewards may appear on some days and be absent on other days it is seeing the impact and growth of your students that makes it all worthwhile. Allow me to share one last experience that happened just this past summer. I was walking on the road one afternoon and I heard a little voice shouting: “Teacher! Teacher” I was so focused on running my errand that I ignored it until after a few moments I finally realized it was one of my new students from my workplace. I felt very humbled and honored that she never just acknowledged me as a teacher on the school compound but also on the road while doing an errand. Teaching is a very comprehensive job whereas we are expected to wear many hats, but I am willing to impact lives and mold young minds to contribute to society while being happy that teaching is my profession.