Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Teaching young people

I do believe in classroom participation, so the students should join and think about what the teacher is talking about. An interesting challenge to a teacher to make the students attracted and take them to the land of science where most things have explanations and can be tangibly understood. Even the matters that still uncovered and not discovered seem to be challenging to discuss and get different ideas from the pure unbounded minds of people who know it for the first time. This is a point when there is no right or wrong answers, all are attempts to explain and predict. However, innovation is not easy to handle in our university education life. It is sometimes bounded by resources, time, mentors, and of course attendance sheets, exams, assignments, ... etc.
Although I'm teaching in the university for five years since my graduation, I have never ever imagined myself teaching young children. May be because I always thought that I'm not patient enough to make children set and listen to something they consider boring in advance. Furthermore, making a piece of information abstract and easy to digest by young people with their endless questions about everything .. what? how? why? who? which I don't know how to give a meaningful kids-way answers to them. Besides, it is better to get experience in teaching undergraduate students only and focus on my future career as a lecturer. 

All these thoughts came to my mind when my husband first told me about that online ad he saw. The ad asked for a female Arabic teacher to teach science subjects to children before college age (and from primary school age) in the Saudi school in Leicester. My husband encouraged me to go for the interview, "we are not going to lose anything", he said. I went to the interview, part of which was to prepare any science lesson from the students book for 15 minutes and then teach it to the first secondary school students (aged 12-14). I chose a science lesson about Newton's laws of motion. Going into the classroom with my interviewer, I started by an example situation to attract the students' attention, proceeding to ask who does know Newton, and what did he do to be famous. I got very good answers with variety of responses which formed the basics of the lesson. Then they were ready to, sort of, formalize the knowledge they had in the form of laws. We discussed the meaning of each law and how they are related to the situation we started with. Although I didn't have the material before and didn't get the time to prepare some illustrations for the topic, I was able to guide the students to talk and conclude the main points of the lesson. The students were very happy and didn't want to finish the class, and my interviewer told me she was attracted to the lesson and got all the ideas smoothly. 

It was my first experience in teaching students in this age. I got that part-time job, and I really enjoyed it. Every time I prepare myself to be innovative and bring the students attention to new ways of how things are working, or why they are acting that way. It gave me the confidence that I can teach no matter how old the students are. Next term, I went to teach even younger students in the primary school age, and that was challenging. They were jumping everywhere, screaming and asking me silly questions. I managed to attract them after ten minutes (yes ten!), by using a story kind of illustration, I brought some sweats  (healthy ones!) and gave everyone who answers my questions. Of course I tried to give them different levels of questions and make a small analysis study about the levels of understanding and study they have. This helped me to give each one of them the attention they needed to be in the same success levels as supposed to be in this grade.  Overall, it was a very good experience for me and I hope to make it again if it is possible.

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