My learners are like crayons in a box.

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My learners are like crayons in a box where the box is the classroom. Usually crayon boxes have different names like ‘staedtler’, ‘Mon Ami’, ‘Crayola’ and so on and likewise these boxes represent the different classes that I work in. The crayons found inside the box come in different colours namely red, blue, yellow, green, and black and white amongst others. There is a mixture of warm and cool colours. Similarly these crayons stand for my learners who come from different home backgrounds with different learning abilities, learning interests, learning styles and pace of learning. As an educator, I am the one to mould them and I am responsible for their holistic development.

Crayons in a box shows their uniqueness and learners are like them, they are unique in themselves and appear to be intra-personal that is learning alone. Some crayons are sharp, some are pretty, some appear dull and some have weird names. All crayons are of different colours. However, they all have to learn to live in the same box. Likewise some learners may be bright, other may be low-performers, some have challenging behaviours, some need to be ‘sharpened’ and still they have to be together in one classroom for learning to take place. The learners in a classroom may not get along with other  at some point of time but when the teacher make them work together, they come up with amazing, interesting and colourful pieces of work. While doing a group work, I make sure that there are homogeneous groupings to show unity in the classroom to give the students the opportunity to get to know their peers better, to show appreciation, respect, to promote cooperative learning and to celebrate diversity at the same time. This is the reason as why I compare my learners to crayons as despite the fact that there are many different colours, the crayons in a box discover that when they get together they can appreciate each other and make a complete picture.

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Colours changed as they touched, becoming something new like mixing red and yellow produces result into orange colour. Equally I put my learners together to work as they are capable of unleashing a flood of imagination and unlocking their creativity. It sure would be a boring world if everyone was all alike- like a picture drawn with only one crayon. The diversity of a classroom becomes wonderful when there are different types of learners with different needs, abilities and background just like a box of crayons with endless colours. With crayons, users make use of them to produce marvellous work, melting them for a splatter effect, sharpening them for textured look and rubbing them on a surface to get outlines.

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As an educator therefore, I have the responsibility to foster a learner-centred and conducive learning environment. Thus, I mould the learners into independent beings by giving them research work, by letting them work in groups, by making them do presentations to express themselves and by letting them share what knowledge they have acquire with their peers. I act as a facilitator and I allow learner autonomy. Just as crayons merge to produce attractive and sometimes dull results, my learners are given the autonomy to learn with their peers and sometimes they may get along and they may have clashes. This brings me to get to know their learning styles be it interpersonal, intra-personal, auditory, visual and kinaesthetic. Hence I illustrate to them that learning is a life-long process and knowing how to gain knowledge and making good use of it, is very important.

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Have you ever imagined life without colour? We are so used to seeing colours that they have become something we take for granted. All colours have their own place. But what if our life had no colours? Crayons are important to add colour to life. Likewise, learners are different, some difficult to bear, some perform really well, others come to school just for the sake of being at school but in the end they are all unique in their own way which ultimately adds colours to teaching. Teaching would surely be dull and colourless had there not been different types of learners.

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Being a “Coach” is the answer to my identity

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Note:

“Enter reader, but take heed of what awaits the sin of curiosity, for those who take, but do not earn, Must pay most dearly in their turn. So if you seek beneath these pages a ‘foot-ballistic teaching’ treasure that was never yours, Reader, you have been warned, beware of finding more than treasure there.”

― Source: J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

The football season has started in full swing. All Mauritian football fans are engrossed in a ‘foot-ballistic’ ambience. They seem to know a lot about the game and they actually talk of football as if they owned the club. Through their unity they show that their hearts belong to the clubs they support, be it Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United amongst others. The excitement of the game, the passion in those eyes, the echoes in the crowd, the hype and excitement during a match all bring about a magical feel. The writings that follow are not about the game football but about the identity of a to-be English teacher Miss Matabudul or LadyGooneretteNiketa, that is how people usually calls her for she is an ardent football fan and that is one defining aspect of her identity. Who would say she is a teacher to be? Upon asking what inspired her to join the teaching profession she always says that it is all because of her passion for football. She had been a trainee teacher and she will be a teacher or more specifically an educator in some years time and she ‘strangely’ sees herself as a football coach.

Below is the conversation between LadyGooneretteNiketa and her friend Noorina La Goonerette and both are to-be educators. While Niketa wants to be an English educator, Noorina aspires be a French educator.

Conversation between LadyGooneretteNiketa and Noorina La Goonerette

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The conversation:

Noorina La Goonerette: (inquisitive) I am a to-be educator too and I do not only watch but I play football as well but you strangely see yourself as a football coach when you don’t even play this game. Have you gone crazy? What is the connection between football as a whole and teaching?

LadyGooneretteNiketa: (Smile) My identity as an English and English literature educator in Mauritius revolves around football definitely I shall say. I see myself as a football coach because when you look at a football team, it is akin to a classroom situation where the specific team is like a classroom I work in, the football coach is myself and the different players are like my students with different backgrounds, the fans are the parents and society at large, the rules are like my curriculum framework or syllabus to follow, the referees are the invigilators in the exam-rooms, the captain is the class-captain, the different positions of playing are the different  learners with different abilities and competence, the different trophies gained are the rewards and the red and yellow cards are the punishments and warnings that I shall give my students depending on their behavior, attitudes and performance.

Noorina La Goonerette: (Bewildered) But Lady, can you please elaborate on how some these components you mention define your identity?

LadyGooneretteNiketa: I see myself as a football coach definitely because as an educator you need to be reflective just a like a coach. First of all, you need to gain your learners attention and hence comes the idea of classroom management which is the first responsibility which determines what kind of an educator you are. The teacher is just like the football coach who leads the learners (footballers) to be successful. Just as a football team plays well and wins a match, the students will be more interested if the educator effectively manages to create a conducive classroom atmosphere. A football match requires knowledge about a bunch of tactics to succeed.  It emphasizes cooperation, in which the coach is the monitor in the play.  Likewise, the exams are like football matches between several football teams. The coach therefore holds knowledge of tactics and he is not only at the centre but he is the motivator and facilitator as well. Similarly, my duty as an educator would be to provide cooperation among learners to attain their goals and to cater for their holistic development

as well. Just as a coach, it requires the educator to deal with problems like challenging behaviours, and to lead the team/ the learners to success. To be able to do this, he/she has to hold good organizational skills and consider individual differences.

A good educator is one who is passionate about his/her teaching like the passion of football, a shared feeling with other fans to go behind the team and fellow fans are kin, the kit is like the skin, the stadium a home and football, a religion beyond any barrier as it creates bonding. This means to say that as an educator, I should be open-minded, whole-hearted and responsible by maintaining good relationships with the parents of my learners so that we can altogether follow the performance of the learners showing how learning is like the body organs where if one organ fails to work, the whole system collapses. Thus, the educator should be able to maintain a good relationship with everyone for favorable learning to take place. As you see in Mauritius, our system is very competitive so teaching becomes very challenging as adolescents go through physical, cognitive, psychosocial changes and along with these crises they have to remain under a system which forces them to be competitive. Therefore, it will require of me, to foster a positive learner-centered environment so as to make my learners want to learn because in the end you become accountable for their success and failures just like the football coach faces criticisms in the media when the team wins, loses or makes a draw.

Noorina La Goonerette: Oh! Now I understand this relationship between a football coach and an educator’s identity. (Smile) But, you told me you are going to show me that piece of collage

about your roles as an educator which shapes your identity. And, what about that piece of writing about the literature and language on identity you had to read to me?

LadyGooneretteNiketa: Oh, here it is the collage on the role of an educator; I knew you would ask for that. (Wink)

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Noorina La Goonerette: Lady, I think I’ll steal that from you for my assignment. (Giggles)

LadyGooneretteNiketa: No way! (Laughs) Okay, let’s have a cup of tea and then I shall read that piece of prose to you. I have to catch that 222 Rempart bus to return back home. You know how exasperating it is to get a Rempart bus at Réduit here!

After some 15 minutes

LadyGooneretteNiketa: Okay allow me to read to you my bit.

Noorina La Goonerette: Yay! (Smiling)

LadyGooneretteNiketa reads what she has written.

Le Professeur Monsieur Arsène Wenger says: “I believe the target in life should be to do it so well that it becomes an art.” Therefore as a to-be English and English literature educator I believe that I should be like that football coach who does his best through good and bad to stand by his team. Like the football coach, my identity is like the sun that glows from very far away that brings light to those plants that are still in the form of seeds, but as the years go by, I shall be that sun that shall nourish them to make them those trees that will support the ground. I should teach them the essence of the language and its use.

As Shakespeare wrote in Twelfth Night (Act 1 scene 1): “If music be the food of love, play on; / Give me excess of it,..” Likewise, the music of literature and language should be played on and on and it should be given in excess to the students for literature and language is the food of love and of the mind. I should show them how the food (language and literature) is important so that the students who from seeds will become trees should be able to bear ripe, juicy, red apples; that same apple which fell on the feet of Newton

which made him realized Physics. Had he not known the basics of English, the basics of an apple; about how an apple look like, not forming the idea of a red apple in his mind, not creating the picture of an apple, not knowing what it is, not knowing its taste, not knowing its texture; had he not known all these; he would not have been able to come up with all these theories. English language, the most important language used in Mauritius for many purposes, was for Newton the very essence of every new findings and the ultimate findings were creativity of those words for words or syllables are nothing but mere movements of the pen penetrating the very core of the paper which is virgin, penetrating it, opening the very ideas, the very breath and the very smell of life.

Being an English educator is eventually the very essence of life, for like the football coach, I create, I teach, I nourish, I cater for the holistic development and at the end of the day I open my learners’ eyes and I give them the tools to say what they feel and what they think. These are my professional and personal identities as an English educator for like a football coach who constantly provides all the necessary needs to his players, I provide my students the ingredients needed to move on in their lives be it academic or personal.

To enn professeur, To bizin fière

To ene professeur,
Anglais c to filière.
Bizin expert dans la matière,  zot dire.
Mais mwa mo pensé apart conne to filière, to bizin dinamik bien sir,
To bizin montré to zelev simé la limière,
Bon manière,
Ban valeurs,
Et Pa bizin ena okenn barrière,
Sinon to zelev pou gagne twa amer,
Zot pou traite twa comment ene vipère,
Enn  professer li bizin pa peur,
Mem si ban zelev ran to la vie misère,
Mem si zot faire twa passe enn martyre,
Mem si zot montré twa l’enfer,
Et mem si zot vulgaire,
To bizin touzour ena patience, reste courageuse et fière,
Moris c 1 ti zil bien zoli, avek plizir kiltir,
Alors en tant ki professeur, to bizin atann gagne bann zelev kalitE lor couleur,
To bizin pa peur,
Pa faire colere,
Pa seme la terreur,
Parceki, to ban zelev c to ban zenfants, très chère,
Zot tou compte lor twa pou produire  ban bon citoyen du futur,
Pou nou pays to ene docteur,
To aussi responsable developement la zenness, apart lire et ecrire,
To dans enn bataille cot pou bienetre to zelev,to bizin laguerre,
C sa to l’identitE, ma chere,
To enn professeur, to bizin fière !

©LadyGooneretteNikéta 

 

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Special thanks to Noorina Baichoo, Chetan Ramchurn and D.Baboo.Khemrajsing.B.