Friday, May 27, 2011

15 weeks of transition

Friday 27th May
Well today marks the last day of the first semester. It also marks the end of my first semester as a teacher here. Wow…I really did survive this transition from being a student to becoming a teacher of other students. You know a few years ago, if somebody had said that I would be teaching university students, I would look at them strangely and then burst out laughing. My unbelief coupled with my very limited years of experience in the workplace guaranteed me ample ammunition to suggest that I was unfit for this endeavour of teaching in a tertiary institution in Papua New Guinea. Besides, I would be as nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I mean I had no teaching experience whatsoever and here I was trying to lecture students on how the world should be viewed, accepted, critiqued, laughed at and even loved. Well, I took the plunge in January this year into the life of being a academic and here Iam – still alive!
Now 15 weeks later, I look back and say with heart filled with confidence that I took a very important step along this path. Even though I have bumped, skidded, fell or pushed myself over the weeks, today ensured that I had gone into and come out on top. I had set out to give my best to teach students about why the world goes round and how they could contribute to our country’s development (as cliché as it may sound, I actually tried to impress this idea upon them). However, there were little things I saw along the way that put my heart down. Such was the case when I saw a few students who do not really appreciate or understand the fact that there were in university and have access to high quality learning resources. Seriously, if only you were very bright yet could not secure a place at a university and were out on the street, you would understand how a person like that would feel. There were others who didn’t have time to read or do independent research and just wanted all things to come from the lecturer. There were also others who were to lazy to even attempt assignments. Yet in each of these students, I did see a picture of myself when I was in university –someone who just wanted to be average and get out of here. Now as I sit and look back, the potential to do great things is just around the corner for these young Papua New Guineas. Iam in a privileged position because for 15 weeks I get to mould their minds and teach them how the world works not only in class but also out of the classroom too. Today’s student is much more equipped then those previously and has enough ability to go further then before and so much be encouraged to do so. I believe that it is also part of the lecturer’s duty to instill confidence in the student to seek out higher learning.
I think one of the greatest lessons, I have learnt these past 15 weeks, is to be true to yourself. If you do not know something or an idea or theory is beyond you, you need to acknowledge that in class, come back, do your research and then go back and tackle that issue or idea. It is no use pretending to know something you do not know. Be true to your students and peers because they deserve that respect.
Another thing I have learnt is to be creative in your teaching methodology. Most students hate being in the position where the lecturer talks all throughout the lesson and they have to listen. This process is painful for the student as his or her ability to gain knowledge is lost through frustration of not being able to participatein the learning process. I have been at fault in this case and the key for me is to think of different ways to teach ideas rather then just lecturing to the students.
Well I got another 15 more weeks next semester and Iam already looking forward to the challenge. I dread the workload but I guess I just have to prepare well and make sure I get all the unit outlines and resources ready. When the students arrive in July, it will be on again.

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