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Inside Teaching : April 2011
www.atra.edu.au | firstname.lastname@example.org 10 THINGS I’VE LEARNED ABOUT TEACHING 27 4BECOME PROfESSIONaLLY INVOLVED. If you really want to know what’s going on become professionally involved. This can be done by, say, joining and taking a role in your professional association, or joining a union committee, attending conferences, participating in school committees or becoming a member of an authority panel. Over the past 25 years I’ve been on state and national professional association executives, studies authority panels, union committees to name a few. I’ve found my involvement in all these to be very rewarding. Involvement in these professional activities has also led to fantastic professional opportunities and I’ve met some of my closest friends through such involvement. 5REMaIN POSITIVE. Remain positive and try to enjoy your teaching. I know sometimes this is difficult when you have to deal with badly behaved students, unreasonable parents or unrealistic timelines. Remember, though, that these are the infrequent pebbles in your shoe. The majority of students are pleasant, or at least not unpleasant, and most parents are supportive once they appreciate you are trying to do the best for their children. When my students realise I really enjoy my subject they become enthusiastic too – even if they do think I’m a science nerd. 6VaLUE aND SUPPORT YOUR COLLEaGUES. One of the strengths in teaching is its collegiality and the support your colleagues can give you. They understand when you have difficult students and are prepared to help you with advice and a shoulder to lean on. They share resources and will give you worksheets, exams and so on. They look after your class if you need to dash to the loo because you didn’t get time in the break. They help you finish your marking and reporting because you had to deal with an illness or family emergency. Remember this is a two-way street. 7TakE CaRE Of YOURSELf aND TakE a BREak WHEN YOU NEED IT. Don’t be a martyr. Stay home when you are sick because you’ll only get worse if you don’t. Take some of that long service leave. Try a change – apply for that secondment to revitalise yourself. I have dipped in and out of the classroom through a number of opportunities to work in curriculum development and I’ve always come back full of enthusiasm and new ideas. 8BE fLExIBLE. Keep up with what is going on and be prepared to adapt. Remember what I said earlier – the one constant in teaching is change – and Charles Darwin showed those that couldn’t adapt didn’t survive. 9aLWaYS kEEP ON THE GOOD SIDE Of THE SUPPORT STaff aT SCHOOL. The janitor, groundsman, office staff and other support staff are the ones that keep the school humming along. It’s wonderful how things happen more easily when you get along well. 10BEfIRMBUT faIR WITH YOUR STUDENTS. Students appreciate it when everyone is treated by the same set of rules. They may not like consequences which are applied if they’re doing the wrong thing but they do appreciate that the same consequences are applied to everyone. Students may not like you but they will respect you if you’re consistent in your dealing with them. These are the observations that came to mind when I was invited to write this article. What do you think? If you were asked to list 10 things you’ve learnt about teaching what would you write? Debra Smith is the head of science at Centenary State High School in western Brisbane and winner of the 2010 Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools for inspiring thousands of students and helping to redefine the senior science curriculum in Queensland and across Australia. Email Dsmit145@eq.edu.au Photo by Bearcage Productions courtesy Science in Public.