02 October 2011

Post Number 200

What do I do with auspicious post? It's hard to believe that I have written that much, but I hope it has helped those who read it to know me a little better, and given some glimpses of my life as a primary school teacher here in Cambodia.

Actually, this post is going to be a reflective one. Sometimes it's good to reflect, especially if it helps us to move on to better things. Being a reflective teacher is important.

I've heard it said many times that "the teacher who fails to plan, plans to fail", and I definitely agree with it. The longer I've been teaching the more I see the importance of planning. I've learned that the plans don't have to be in great detail, but they do need to have enough detail for me to know whether my students have learned what I hoped they would learn. At the same time, planning is not enough.

Once the plan has been executed, it's extremely valuable to take some time to reflect on the plan. It doesn't have to be documented in great detail, but it does need to be done. Some questions I've learned to ask as a reflective teacher are:
  • Did the lesson work?
  • If not, why not?
  • Was the content appropriate?
  • Did I start from the known, or did I jump straight into new material?
  • What could I do next time to make it work, or make it work better?
Often our reflections will not be about the content, although sometimes that does need to change, but about how the content was presented.
  • Could I have done this in a different way?
  • Would doing it differently have made it easier for the children to grasp?
Then, there are the reflections about ourselves as teachers. Our children learn so much in our classrooms, and much of what they learn is not academic but emotional and social. We also need to think about how the children think and see the world, and how this might be different to how we see the world.

Consider the whole concept of telling the truth. I don't know about you, but people who lie to me really annoy me. Yes, they get under my skin. Yep, I get angry. I'd rather tell the truth and face the consequences than lie (well most of the time anyway), and that's what God wants me to do. At the same time, I live in a country where the culture places a great deal of importance on saving face. Culturally, it is acceptable to tell a lie and save face, or to tell a lie to avoid hurting others, or to tell a lie to protect someone else. This is really hard for me to deal with, but it is something I need to work on. Someone said to me that these motivations, in the context of love, should be stronger than telling the truth. I'm not sure I agree with that, but I'm thinking it over. A thought that I'm finding easier to work with, but still not easy to do, is to consider these questions:
  • "How can I make it easier for someone to tell the truth?".
  • "How can I make telling the truth a safe thing to do?"
  • "How can I be sure that a person is confident enough of my love for them that they will tell the truth?
For my own truth telling, maybe I need to consider these questions:
  • How can I say this so it does not hurt the other person?
  • Do I really need to say it at all?
As I reflect on these things as a teacher, I'm also reflecting on them as a person. I thank God that I am a work in progress. One day, some great day, I will be as He truly intended me to be.

In the meantime, consider the words of Paul in Colossians 4:2-3a, 5-6.
Continue praying, keeping alert, and always thanking God. Also pray for us that God will give us an opportunity to tell people his message.
Be wise in the way you act with people who are not believers, making the most of every opportunity. When you talk, you should always be kind and pleasant so you will be able to answer everyone in the way you should.

I pray that I will remember this throughout the day tomorrow and every other day as well.

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