I developed a passion for teaching through all the negative teaching experiences I went through. Sounds weird, but it was the ‘bad’ teaching I was exposed to that made me determined to teach others better.
During my schooling there were many wonderful teachers who encouraged and inspired me to learn and do my very best. However, my confidence was knocked quite severely by the repeated exposure to teachers who exhibited bad teaching habits, or who possibly did not care about my learning.
During my secondary schooling there was one particular teacher who would tailor his lessons to a group of students who were considered the ‘brightest’ in this subject area. I knew I could grasp the concepts but I also knew that the teacher was not employing the right methods to help me or my peers understand too. One day I did not do so well in an assessment and the teachers wanted to move me from the higher to the intermediate set. I asked my parents to speak to the teachers so that I could remain in the higher set and I did. I had an honest and mature conversation with my parents; I explained my difficulties and asked them to hire a private tutor. I knew that the private lessons would be expensive and so I explained that if I could have just a few, I would utilize them effectively. Sure enough, with a bit more support and time from a wonderful tutor (and I went through a few!) I sailed through the exams in that subject area. Of course there are other factors that come in to play, such as large classes and time pressures. However, my point is, if it had not been for that tutor who explained things to me in a way I could understand, got to know me and what teaching methods would work for me then I would not have succeeded.
To not only learn something but to excel at it, you need to understand how you learn and then what methods best suit your learning needs. I am a very visual learner and so when memorizing large amounts of information for A level essays or during my medical degree I would ensure I used loads of diagrams and colours. If you are being taught, that person needs to carry out that same detailed assessment to optimize your potential.
During my medical training I also encountered a number of teachers who would ‘pick on’ us in groups. Now, I had encountered this during my schooling of course, but I found during medicine this was used much more. I can only speak for myself, but I do not feel picking on people and placing them on the spot is conducive to learning. How can someone truly learn if they are frightened about being picked on and humiliated? Whenever I teach, (even if the group is quiet!) I try to avoid this method of teaching. I would rather throw a question out to the group. If I do use this method I would have created a comfortable environment and therefore I would not cause this person to be humiliated if they got the answer wrong or did not know the answer.
I truly believe that we can learn and excel at anything we set our minds to. It may not be an easy task to achieve but with persistence and dedication greatness can be acquired!