A lovely article is brought to us today by Sarah Craig, who discusses her daily inspiration and how this inspires her work with children and adolescents at the oncology unit.
I graduated as a Primary school teacher way back in December 2007 and have spent seven beautiful years of my life teaching children in schools.
A year ago I decided it was time for me to move out of the classroom and experience teaching at hospital! Back in September 2014, I started working as a teacher at Rainbow ward, in Mater Dei Hospital. A year later, we’ve moved! I now work with the same children who continue to receive treatment at the new Oncology Centre – Sir Anthony Mamo. Rainbow ward is now being referred to as the Paediatric and Adolesent Unit (PAU).
As far as teaching in hospital classes is concerned, this is a very interesting service offered by the Directorate for Educational Services. We are a team of ten professionals, namely teachers, kindergarten assistants as well as learning support assistants who are present in different paediatric wards every school day between 8.30am and 2.30pm.
My role at the PAU differs from my role as a class teacher in a school. Children at the PAU are being treated for cancer, in the vast majority. Hence, their stay is not a short one. Some require longer hospitalisation than others. Some visit the ward for regular tests so they come and go as required. Children at the ward are so very special, they are warriors, strong in spirit and very determined to overcome the storms of life.
The most important factor in my everyday learning outcomes is positivity. I am not only the teacher but an encourager. I try hard to motivate these children who are not always up to stressful situations. I yearn to encourage both the child and his/her family inviting them to see the whole picture. There is always h.o.p.e. – hold on pain ends! What seemed hopeless for me twenty-one years ago, today proves to have been otherwise. I myself am a cancer survivor and this goes to prove that there can be life after cancer. It’s not going to be easy as they very well know but it’s definitely worthed. Life is our daily gift and such a beautiful blessing from God.
Meanwhile, everyday I greet each and every child with a smile and invite them to sit down and spend quality time together. We do have a playroom and a classroom at the new Oncology Centre where we can interact. At times, the child wishes to do creative things so we make different crafts with an educational goal. At other times, the child wants to go through a book or a set of flashcards together. Perhaps he/she wishes to play a game or complete a jigsaw puzzle, for instance. The activity list is endless. I also encourage interested parents and children to bring over some of the school books but this has to really be their decision at the end of the day. My aim is to support the children and let them experience what they really would love to experience. There are older children who just love to engage in discussion and this is more than welcomed.
It is an honour to be with these children every single day. I am doing my best to give them my all since they are deserving of it. In exchange, they are giving me much, much more. As a teacher, I do my best to teach but these beautiful souls teach me much more at the end of the day. They add meaning to a life which is sometimes taken for granted. They really are such a daily inspiration to me and to everyone who has the honour to be around our contemporary great heroes!