I’ve worked in some particularly challenging high schools and that is an opportunity I’m grateful for, Sydney teacher Natalija writes.
The kids are tough. They test you and push you beyond the limits. They don’t let you in easily, you have to work at it without letting them see you’re trying too hard. You finally think you have them on side, and they do something to let you know that it can’t possibly be that easy. You question yourself. Change your approach and try again and again.
My students have taught me that, as a teacher, consistency in following up and showing up as well as fairness and respect are essential. They may not always agree with me but after time are able to see reason.
Today I would like to recognise the students that have changed my life and shaped the person that I am today. Many of the students I’ve taught have it pretty tough at home. That said, they’ve taught me invaluable lessons about their worlds, about perspective and overcoming personal adversity, about resilience and the importance of showing up each and every day. They’ve challenged me not only to be a better teacher but to be a better person on so many levels.
These ‘at-risk’ kids have given me the greatest rewards as a teacher. Their willingness to trust in me has allowed me to form connections with them and join them on their journey providing the opportunity to learn and grow together. The small changes we’ve made along the way have been humbling and proud moments for me. I’ve learned to adapt my teaching style to suit them and to always leave my ego at the door.
As teachers, part of our everyday conversation centres around what we can teach our students and perhaps how we might be able to make some small impact on them as they go out into the world.