We gather a lot of materials while learning.Yet when we do not share them to empower others, it is either lost or become useless. One of the ways we valorise our learning and empower others is teaching.
I would like to describe my teaching experience into three main aspects: 1. Classroom teaching, 2.Supervising students, 3. Individual tutoring.
It is worth mentioning that what I consider now was a part of my mission as formator of a Jesuit seminary: A two years program that introduces young Jesuits to Church and Jesuit life as they prepare to become people with and for others as ordained ministers.
1. Classroom teaching
I was missioned to give some introductory courses to a dozen of seminarians who joined the Society of Jesus. This was my first powerful experience of teaching students I had. The environment was pretty easy as I had not to travel distances from where I was living and where I was going to teach. The residence and classrooms were all in the same compound. I had practically three days of course delivery, with 3 hours each day. My pedagogy was lecturing and giving homework.
I was responsible for:
– Teaching an Introduction of the history of the Society of Jesus to a group of 12 students. I had two classes, those who were in the first level and others who were in the second level.
– Teaching French to students of level one. The group was composed of 6 students. As they were not at the same level, three sub-groups were formed: the beginner, the intermediate, and the advanced level. I taught the beginner and intermediate levels and hired another professor to teach the advanced level. French course had two sections: A theoretical component which was generally about learning grammar, and the practical component which was based on listening and oratory.
– Correcting written works of students and marking their homework. With students, we started a local newsletter which aimed at the same time exhibiting students’ intellectual growth and communicating to their friends and relatives what they living in the seminary. The newsletter was a tangible platform of students to appreciate what they learning and expressing it to their peers and the society.
2. Supervising students
In a seminary as other schools, students tend to follow one another. In classrooms, students who were struggling in speaking and writing French tended to rely on the best orators. I found that manner unpromising. These students were supposed to live together for two years, a very limited time for one to be really grounded in a language. My aim was to make sure that each and every student would fly with his own wings. I made sure that each student apply himself on learning, by reading easy and interesting book, write small papers but does it consistently and regularly. Most of student were self-disciplined, and progressively become committed to writing and speaking. I was happy to realize mental and cognitive growth of students. I felt joy of listening to them narrating stories in French, expressing themselves in a language they have not have a chance to practice in the society.
3. Individual tutoring
One principle to train Jesuit seminarians is order: Cura Personalis. The principle entails giving formation of the whole person, one’s emotional, spiritual, rational, and affective dimensions. Every individual is unique and formation has to be personalized. This involves listening to students’ motivations, wishes, cries and laments, dreams, fears and joys. My personal experience attests that caring for a small number of students is a mission in its own right. I realized that each student has his own way of learning and envisioning the concepts discussed. This requires for students to have one to have a conversation with, someone they could ask free and different questions, and one disposed of listening to them and try to answer to their uncertainties. They could be various approaches. Some learners would look for be sensitive and sophisticated explanations whereas others enjoy small talks, des bla-bla. something that resonate their ordinary lives.
A word forward. My concern of students was certainly partly related to a crisis in teaching, especially teaching spoken languages such as French, and most of their deficiencies were based on their previous classes. But I want to emphasize that the major problem comes from a hard lack of method and management inherent to student learning systems. Students need to know how to organize, prioritize, manage their time, master their emotions, know how to take notes, learn courses, find places where to feel relaxed in their spirit and their bodies, by doing exercises and other bodily exercises. They need also to have moment of prayer and expressing their deeper faith and beliefs. Certainly, students should relax when they are tired. Above all students have to learn their course first! One cannot harvest where she/he did not saw, as the Scripture puts it. If one does not have the basics of driving, he/she will indubitably cause traffic confusion. And one may not expect miracles on job market from confused students. Thus, I found fundamental to me to and to my students, to have a methodology, prior to any beginning of academic year so that everyone can rise from a good start and expect settling on a promising end.