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Seven lessons I learned as a teacher

Alumna Lay Wah Carolina Ching is one of this year’s cohort of alumni contributing authors. She now writes to us from her perspective as an educator in Ecuador. 

By Lay Wah Carolina Ching

As an IB student I was grateful for the teachers I had. However, it was not until I became a teacher that I understood that it is such a noble task. Here are seven important lessons I learned as an IB teacher.

1. Attitude matters

As a teacher, you can create a whole new world for the students you have in front of you. They often spend more hours with you than at home – and of course attitude matters! Make a difference and be a source of love, care and commitment to transform the world one student at a time. You can change the mood of a student with your attitude. Smile always! Teach them to take a positive attitude to all challenges in life.

Lay Wah Ching

Lay Wah Carolina Ching is a graduate of the IB Diploma Programme at Colegio Politecnico.

2. Apply local and international contexts

Relate knowledge of what is happening in your country to your teaching – applying knowledge to real life situations is what gives meaning to that knowledge. Providing students with an environment in which they see these applications is how they will find value in it.

Moving on to an international context is also key. We are living through a period of rapid globalization and teachers can use this to help students care for a much bigger community and learn from the perspective of those in other countries. Teach them to understand what they do based on their own perspective. It is also lovely to open doors to the world for students, even if they cannot physically travel there.

3. Inspire your students

Be eager to show students a whole new world through the subject you are teaching. I will never forget the teachers I had when I was an IB diploma candidate – they were the best! As a teacher you can exemplify passion for what you teach by complementing it with your hobbies and additional activities. Be an inspiration by challenging them to reach the best of their abilities. Be vulnerable to learning and show that you don’t know all there is to know in life.

4. Project-based learning

Learn by doing. Application is where we learn the most. Don’t start with the typical theory and move on to application, try to reverse your thinking and start class with a project. Afterward allow students time to reflect on the experience. It can often be easier for students to conceptualize things after they have already experienced them.

5. Coaching helps your students

Train your students to be their best and develop their strengths. Coaching your students requires that you care for your students with all your heart and you are determined to shape their lives to the best of your abilities. Students often come to class with some baggage – take the opportunity to listen and understand why they behave the way they do.

Take the opportunity to hear what they have to say about the things that make them happy and worry them. You don’t need to have all the answers, but a heart that is willing can make a world of difference.

6. Be different

An inspiring teacher needs to be different. I love to be! I follow my heart in so many things with my students. To be different is being capable of reaching outside of the bubble of your own school’s context. Guide students to think outside of the box, take control, and learn to take risks.

7. Challenge your students

Challenge your students with exercises that keep going up in level of difficulty and go beyond repetition of the content in a notebook. In the future, students will appreciate the teachers who challenged them the most and helped them move beyond their comfort zone. We run together for excellence.

IB teachers must be well-rounded and adept at multitasking. Class doesn’t just start when your students arrive, it begins with planning and preparation. Reflect upon the teacher that inspired you the most, ask yourself why, and take the time to appreciate their hard work.

Contributing author Lay Wah Carolina Ching completed the IB Diploma Programme at Colegio Politecnico, received her BBA from Texas Christian University, and currently teaches Business Management for an IB school in Ecuador. She is passionate about individuals, cultures and challenging her students to different perspectives.

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