Reflections of a Young Teacher
For a student who always used to keep his teachers on their toes during his school years, it's ironic that I became a teacher. Never have I ever thought I'd be in this profession. But life works in mysterious ways. You can only imagine what the pandemic did to a struggling rock musician who runs a recording and a practising studio. As it was really hard to pass the days as a musician, I started looking for a "real" job to pay the bills.
I came across a school that was hiring a Visual and Performing Arts teacher. When I found out, I just had to get the job, as I'd get a chance to teach little kids the magic of arts and music.
During my school years, Arts used to be my favourite subject. It felt liberating as I had the scope to practice my freedom of expression through ink, colour and brushes. I used to wish my other subject teachers would be absent so that the art teacher could cover their classes.
When I got this job, I knew I had to be the art teacher I never had. The school I joined gave me the scope to explore and design my own lesson plans. My goal as a teacher is to make sure my students can express themselves and can solve the next big problems of the world. The two subjects I take, Visual Arts and Performing Arts, can help a child to gain confidence in expressing themselves and in turning their ideas into tangible and intangible reality.
My students are between 3 to 10 years old. Because they are so young, I see them using their art skills to navigate their daily lives. For example, students don't just say "sorry" if they need to, they make an apology card to express their emotion of regret. No ego, no hate, simply pure hearts. Work feels like therapy at times.
The challenging part of being a teacher is navigating through the children's mood swings. Their innocent minds are growing and learning, I don't want to put a spot in it through negligence or any rough behaviour. I simply don't believe in punishing a child. Mistakes are learning experiences that I don't want my students to be deprived of. I think there is no such thing as a 'bad student'. We, teachers, need to find the right way to teach.
An interesting fact about my teaching experience is that I also get to discover myself every day. I assess myself every class, I keep on pushing myself to improve my communication and teaching skills. As a person, I'm exploring the nurturing side of my personality. As I come from a different background professionally, I had a different type of work-life balance before. Teaching certainly has given me a lot of space to breathe. Now, I get time for my personal life and other priorities.
I'm also a freelance creative service provider and a musician. But as teaching is my main profession, I mostly spend my time teaching and preparing myself for the coming classes and challenges. Being around children motivates me to put some focus on my dreams of being an artist. Children usually stick to a certain thing once they put their mind to it regardless of what happens and that's how you can actually achieve something. We, adults, tend to forget and compromise our hopes and dreams, children would never do that and that is something very powerful. At the end of the day, my students are my teachers too. We all dream about changing the world, but being a teacher helps me do that as I'm contributing to training future leaders and problem solvers.
Farhan Labib Ahmed is a specialist teacher of Visual Arts and Performing Arts at Springdale International School.