6 September, B6 Ho Tim Buidling
Speech delivered by Mr. Gary Hung, 2011 graduate
Good afternoon, everyone. Hope everything goes well with you in the first week of the new academic year. I’m so pleased to see you all here and thank Eunice so much for inviting me to say a few words about teacher identity building.
Frankly speaking, when it comes to this topic, I really had to think for a while and organize my thoughts a bit as I think teacher identity can somehow be built in an unintentional way. As we are all from our big ELED family, I’ll try to use the letters ‘E’, ‘L’, ‘E’, and ‘D’ to share my own experience concerning our identity at school.
Actually, the first ‘E’ stands for ‘Existence’. What I mean is we should clearly know who we are in the workplace. As I’m a novice teacher, I’ve been bearing this in mind since I had the TP at my current school. In fact, there are a quite a number of low achievers of English and some of them do lack motivation to learn. Because of this, being assertive and positive is a must and I believe it is never too late to learn as we, teachers, are the ones to support them with all our effort. Actually, developing a good relationship with students can definitely facilitate their learning process as they are more active when having the lessons. Through participating in different activities inside or outside the classroom, the teacher-student relationship can be strengthened and they will start paying more attention in class. For me, I sometimes invite the low achievers to form a band with other teachers, sing English songs together, and perform on stage. I also chitchat with students through texting in English whenever they have good time or bad time and I find that these students are more engaged in the lessons even though they are not good at English.
Just knowing who we are is not enough, we also need to influence our students to be what they should be. Therefore, the letter ‘L’ refers to ‘Leverage’. Since students tend to imitate others very quickly, we should provide a good model for them. Of course, I am not just saying setting up rules and being strict inside the classroom as we all know that it is our responsibility to get students into a good routine for learning. What I mean here is we can also try our best to do something that we are unfamiliar with so as to prove we shouldn’t give up when we need to overcome obstacles in our learning process. Let me give you my example. We had an English assembly last year and we would like to act out one of the dancing scenes from the movie called ‘High School Musical’. We asked the students from the Dancing Society at our school to be the dancers but at the same time, I and the other teacher (i.e. Carly Chow) were also invited by the students to dance with them on stage as well. As you can see, I’m actually not having talent for dancing. I really have no idea of how to remember the steps well and I don’t even know where my hands and feet should be put when the music is played. If I knew that, I think I would be a dancer instead of a teacher. Actually, I did keep practicing at home and asked my sister to teach and dance with me. Fortunately, I succeeded finally by trial and error and I did enjoy performing with the students. Because of my experience, I can use this to encourage my students to challenge themselves when they need to accomplish a task. I’m also thrilled that some passive low achievers were encouraged by the performance and they’ve decided to join the English Speech Festival this year. Therefore, I do believe we have influential power to help our students strive for the best once we can be a good model for them to imitate.
For the second letter ‘E’, I actually mean ‘Enjoyment’. In other words, we should enjoy being a teacher at school so that our students can enjoy learning as well. Although it’s a bit ideal, teaching life shouldn’t be boring but enjoyable, agree? Maintaining a friendly learning environment can surely facilitate both learning and teaching. Do remind ourselves that teaching a language can never just be chalk and talk and keep ourselves updated on the new methodologies and the students’ interests. In my junior classes, for example, I love to use a rewarding system adapted from some computer games to encourage students to answer questions and complete different tasks in my lessons. And I sometimes love to use my personal pictures to make grammar tasks for them to do. I find that the students are more engaged when these materials are used. They love my lessons very much and some even look forward to the next lesson. Using positive reinforcement and varying our teaching ways constantly can surely boost their motivation and help them learn the target language better.
Last but not least, we, as teachers, are not only teaching students subject knowledge, it is also essential for us to help improve their personal development. Therefore, the letter ‘D’ here refers to ‘Development’. It is our responsibility to teach them how to be a good person. Sometimes, students’ unsuccessful learning may be due to different circumstances. Therefore, we should learn to be alert and sensitive to different situations. Some students, especially those low achievers, are not able to handle the school work well because of their complicated background. As we are professionals, do understand them first and give corresponding mental support if necessary so as to let them know we are here to care them and offer them help. I bet they will then learn better once they overcome the difficulties.
For me, I also keep telling my students that the progress is more important than the results. What I really want to see is how they change their attitude in both learning and living. I’ve actually been teaching a group of students since I had my TP at this school four years ago. Every time when I chat with them, I do feel thankful and pleased to know they have been being much more mature and it seems our relationship is getting better and better. We both treasure it very much and I think I will definitely miss them after they graduate in this academic year.
No doubt, teaching life is never easy but tough, isn’t it? You’ve got tons of workloads in both teaching and administrative work and they sometimes consume all our energy. But what sustains my teaching life and what I treasure the most are the changes student make in their lives. In fact, you’ll never know whenthe seeds you sow will germinate. However, once you’ve done what you need to do, I believe miracles do happen sometime later and this is indeed what we should do as a teacher.
Time is running short, I would like to share a few lines quoted from a BBC article talking about what education really is to end my speech and I hope this can be food for thought. It says:
‘Education isn’t just one little part of your existence, it is life. It’s the same thing. It’s not just learning Wordsworth by heart, it’s about feeling it and understanding why it’s important.’
I wish you all a fruitful brand new year and every success in the years ahead. Thank you very much.