Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Love for Teaching

Like all stories, mine has a beginning. It starts, like many a tale, once upon a time with a little girl who spent more time with books and imaginary friends then I’d care to admit. I was in grade six and eleven years old when I first read Harry Potter and the Prisoner Azkanban by J.K. Rowling. Do you know what happens in that book? A lot, actually, but there are two things in particular that left  significant impressions. Firstly, as with every book, Hogwarts gets a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, this time a school friend of Harry’s father, Professor Lupin. Professor Lupin was an understanding and compassionate teacher who had fun, engaging lessons and made the effort to go the extra mile to help his students – giving Harry extra one-on-one lessons on the Patronus curse, for example. He wasn't just educational - he was fun. He didn't stand at the front of the class and lecture, he didn't expect students to know everything, he simply expected them to show up, pay attention, have fun, and learn as best they could. One of his first lessons, for example, featured a boggart that took the form of an individual's worst fears...and ended when Neville's worst fear - Professor Snape - went the ridiculous route and flashed into the garb of Neville's grandmother.

Secondly, the gamekeeper, Hagrid, gets promoted to a teaching position, taking over the Care of Magical Creatures class from a half-eaten (though still living and mobile) predecessor. Hagrid, as any fan can tell you, was expelled from Hogwarts in his third year and, thanks to Dumbledore, later became the gamekeeper of the school. His cabin, located on school grounds at the border of the Forbidden Forest, was something of a sanctuary for Harry, Ron and Hermione and, as a teacher, Hagrid had hands on and interactive lessons and a casual, open class environment.

And now for the confession…eleven year old me? Well, she may have spent hours teaching Care of Magical Creatures to invisible students in her bedroom. She may have even have had a piece of black painted wood and she may have pilfered chalk from school so she could write notes about the various creatures on the board for her invisible students to copy. And maybe, just maybe, she may have borrowed a book about mythical monsters from a friend (a connect-the-dots book to be precise) to use as a resource to develop her lessons. And she may have written up tests and assignments she then filled out herself and corrected. Oh, and there were, of course, parent-teacher interviews.

Eleven year old me was kind of a geek. And I’ve always had something of an overactive imagination. It was a fun - though sort of lonely - childhood.

It goes without saying, therefore, that the love of teaching has been with me for quite some time, however this is not why I decided to become a teacher.

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