Welcome to teaching

School age girl being assisted by teacher to do a puzzle You're going to be a teacher. It's been your dream since you were very young. You've spent years at uni studying, you've done your practicum and everyone believes you will make a great teacher. You have an excellent rapport with young people and a bag full of resources. You know all about different learning styles, Habits of Mind, Six Thinking Hats, Higher Order Thinking and much more. You have a bag full of tools – lotus diagrams, KWL's, 'Y' charts, Fishbones, Model Mapping and more.

Finally the day arrives and you are at your first school, way out in the country, over a thousand students in years 7-12. You are teaching your favourite subjects, English and HSIE. You have your lessons well-prepared. The bell rings and in you go. You are confident, happy ready to start.

Fifty minutes later you emerge, shell-shocked, your dreams are shattered. What just happened? Half your students have literacy problems, three are on the autism spectrum, a few appear extremely gifted and the rest seem 'normal'. This is not what you expected, you are going to have to differentiate the curriculum, make accommodations, write IEP's, and basically rethink that 'perfect lesson plan'. You walk into the staff room and realise that you are not alone, no class is ‘normal’; they all have 'special students'. In fact you soon come to realise that all students are 'special' and no two classes are the same. As time passes, you adapt your teaching, you come to know and understand your students. They are no longer just faces or names, they are real people and all have a story. You make connections and face many challenges; you continue your learning and develop your skills and practice.

One day, about 20 years on, you are still teaching and reflect on what has happened. You realise that you enjoy the challenges and the stories that each and every student brings. But most of all you now appreciate that it is the students with learning difficulties and disabilities that have brought you the most joy and pride in the work you do. They are the ones who have taught you what teaching really is – a lifelong partnership in learning that never really ends.

WELCOME TO TEACHING

ACTPD1 Participant Discussion Board Posting accessed June 19th 2009

Reviewed 2012