Natasha teaches English at Southern Cross Campus in Mangere. She gives us a taste of her teaching experiences.
You feel a bullet-sized thud in the middle of your chest. Then it begins to spread in a matter of milli-seconds across to wherever it is in your chest you feel pride. Pride in your student, whom you’ve just witnessed come to a ‘lightbulb’ moment, and pride in all the effort you contributed to help bring about that moment. What a load of bubble squash! You say. Which was the same thing I thought whenever I kept hearing teachers on television ads and in reality.
But here in our little school Southern Cross Campus in Mangere, I have come to realise that such ‘lightbulb’ moments do exist, and if you are not prepared for the attack of ‘feel-good’ hormones that result from those moments, then it may be a bit much to take in one hit. One very important lesson I have learned from these ‘lightbulb’ moments is that you can’t ever force the students to arrive at them. What you do is you study, then you break it down, then you match it to things in real life to keep it real – then you deliver it. And you can deliver, and deliver, and…….deliver, until you feel you may drop from exhaustion, and just when you least expect it – they feedback to you sometimes in such unique ways that you become convinced they’ve actually taught you something.
One of my very recent lessons involved having a discussion about fears. A high percentage of the class were anxious about our speech unit, and many of the students requested to opt out altogether or to say their speech in private. After expressing their concerns I guided our class through a Think, Pair, Share session where they had to brainstorm what it was specifically they were afraid of happening when they deliver their speeches. Once all the fears were shared on the board, teams were assigned groups of ‘fears’. The team task was to produce as many sensible solutions as possible to overcome those fears. There was not one fear left without a sensible solution, and the class attitude toward speeches has since changed in a positive way. I think it has also helped that I myself wrote a speech and delivered it in the form of a rap, just to show the students (most of whom are into music) that even a song or rap is a form of a glorified speech.
I am now a little bit of a celebrated rap artist in our school community, and this is very much in favour of promoting my subject – English. I intend to use this fame to promote the values I have been working on instilling in the students, which are the same values I share with Teach First NZ: Achievement, Leadership, Perseverance, Respect, Organisation, Problem solving, Reflection, Flexibility and Commitment.