Global Teaching Summit is an annual event hosted by Teach For All to bring together innovative teachers from across our network to engage in learning together.
This year, the theme revolves around “Re-imagining Education” with awareness (understanding of social, political, and cultural context in which students learn and grow and unlearning the majority narrative) and agency (taking charge of one’s learning and being part of a collective action towards an aligned vision) to better reach all learners.
The three-day learning journey has got Phuong Vu, Fellow Batch 1 of Teach For Vietnam, to share about inspiration from other current teachers who stay in teaching after the fellowship.
“- Chow, where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
– Me? I will still be teaching in the next 5 years, next 10 years, till my old age.
As I was finishing my first year of teaching, I started to think about what I can do after the fellowship. It can be attending a master degree in education or public policy. It can be taking a gap year to travel and explore other education format in the world. It can be starting my own entrepreneurship with an educational product. It can be anything … but not staying at my current schools and continue teaching. The idea of staying in the public school system to teach has never crossed my mind, ever, till I met my team member for the Global Teaching Summit in London.
I admire the reasons why he stays with teaching his grade from the fellowship. I am thrilled to hear his stories about his work with scout activities. I empathize with the hardship when he told me about his first year teaching. I feel inspired attending his sharing session about “The Path to Neutrality” (Classroom Management 101 and techniques that will save you from going insane because of being a teacher). I now acknowledge that I was not the only loser in the battlefield of first year teaching. I embrace the fact that teaching is hard. It is really sad for the fact that in Vietnam, when people think of a career that is stable and and “easy”, they think of teaching. Many people think primary school and middle school teachers are JUST teaching primary school and middle school knowledge, “it should be easy”. Many people think teachers teach the same lessons over and over again throughout their career, “it should be easy”. I can even picture many parents handing their children to the teachers “Here is my kid. Turn him/ her into the next Mark Zuckerberg, please. It shouldn’t be too difficult, right?” “Ehhh, not quite there yet, I want you to think again and I will come back to later” – I would definitely tell those parents so.
Teachers are not JUST teaching, not to mention JUST teaching primary school and middle school knowledge. Teachers have lesson plans to do, tests to grade, parents and children to talk to, meetings to attend, paperwork to turn in, homes to visit (the list can go on and on). Teachers are not teaching the same lessons over and over again. Teachers adjust each lessons, based on their students’ different abilities and needs. Of course if I speak from another perspective where teachers use scolding, shouting, caning, or any form of negative reinforcement for classroom management and don’t really care about students’ academic and non-academic achievement at all, teaching can be easy. But if you happen to randomly walk by a classroom and see students are working in group collaboratively, discussing critical thinking questions, helping their friends with class-related tasks and all of the amazing student actions, please give the teacher of that class a thumbs up, a pat on the back, “sparkles” and “shine on you”, because that teacher must have worked really HARD to have the classroom look and sound that way.
My team member, the nearly 150 attendants of the summit, and the hundred thousands current fellows and alumni of Teach For All know what I am talking about here. So, the next time when I have my head down on my desk in my bedroom, crying over a burnt lesson plan and a kid who is misbehaved, to make the pain less severe, I will think of other Teach For network teachers somewhere in the world also suffering the same thing as I am. But to make everything more exciting, I know that I am part of a global movement, that at anytime anywhere in the world, there is someone who is working towards the same goal as mine – bringing excellent education to every child.
I am excited to go back to school this August, carrying with me all of the passion and enthusiasm transferred from the attendants of the Global Teaching Summit to try out all of the amazing practices have learned, not only during my second year teaching but also, maybe, just maybe, my many more years staying in teaching to come.
– Phuong, after all, teaching isn’t so bad, is it?
– It’s good. Teaching is good. “
Phuong Vu, Fellow Batch 1 of Teach For Vietnam.