Those innocent days in one’s teaching career

It’s not uncommon for student-teachers to cry: a well-planned lesson that was sabotaged by uncooperative students; getting harsh (or extremely good) comments from supervisors; announcing to students their departure at the end of the Teaching Practice … The other day, I was having a post-lesson discussion with a student teacher, and although she had taught a great lesson, when she thought of the mistakes the children had made in their homework, she was not sure if she had really taught the children well, and tears came to her eyes.

Student teachers often touch my heart with their innocence: their simple but noble motive for teaching – to teach well so that the students will learn well. In other words: to teach from the heart. Those of us veteran teachers will know that the longer we teach, the more our passion will be eroded by the harsh realities of teaching, so that even if we are still enthusiastic, our motive for teaching may not be that pure any more. And little by little, our hearts will be numbed, so that we stop being thrilled over a little star that a student gives us, we don’t read the words of gratitude students write for us in cards over and over any more, we cease to keep the little presents that students make for us, and of course, we will never cry because students have not learnt what we have taught.

But this is the price to pay for teaching in the real world, so that teachers need not despair if they find they are feeling less about their work and their students. As long as they can recall some innocent days in their teaching career, they should already be proud of themselves.

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