I’m now in charge of the school’s latest endeavour – an after-school club for a dozen kindergarteners who can’t go home at 3 with the others, and whose parents are presumably willing to shell out a bit extra for another hour of babysitting combined with English. As it meant I had two of my small but intensive three-times-a-week elementary classes taken off my hands, I was all for this project, and sat down full of enthusiasm to discuss it with the director. Which books do I need to use? What do you want me to teach?
It was then, ladies and gentlemen, that I reached another milestone in this tentative teaching career of mine. One of those magical moments that make me return to my classroom and silently punch the air in triumph while grinning like the old Cheshire cat. Jennifer passed me a couple of books and said, You can have a look at these and use ideas from them. Or we can order books for the kids if you want. But it’s your class – you know them, and I want you to do whatever you think will work best for them.
OK, I said uncertainly, used to being pressed to finish course books on time, but how long do I have to finish a book?
She shook her head, laughing. It is your class, she said. You do it your own way. You’re the teacher.
This may not sound like much, but good grief, I was walking on air for about a week afterwards. Having a job where you’re allowed to give your opinion, have your ideas taken on board, and eventually be set free to do it all your own way… that’s just not something I’ve ever had before. And of course it works out well for everyone, because when management lets go and trusts you, you tend to want to prove that they were right to do so – which is why I’m probably working harder now that I have for months. For every 40 minute lesson, I’ve planned for between one and three hours. And guess what? They have been my most successful and fun classes to date. I’m excited and happy ∴ the kids are excited and happy. Maybe my director is more shrewd than I first suspected. :)
I can’t see myself ever getting tired of this teaching thing, you know. I love it. I really, really love it! Every day is different, and full of fresh challenges and new ideas and opportunities to be creative. I can bring my own personality to work with me, and make it work for me. I can pick myself up after a class fails, learn from it, and do it differently next time – and I can enjoy the laughter and chatter in English that means it’s going well. I can exchange stories and tips with friends who have different strengths from my own, such as Irish Friend One’s recent advice that has very effectively and easily turned around the struggles I’d been having with classroom discipline. I can get to know my students individually, and learn what will and won’t work for them. And now, with my newfound freedom, I can abolish grammar books and worksheets for a little while each day and teach 6-year-olds the way I believe they should be taught – with stories, games, activities, art projects, and lots of giggles.
Oh, and I’ve disabled comments on this post, because I don’t want it to seem like a self-congratulatory, fishing-for-compliments type of thing. I know I’m not even a qualified teacher, and I’m constantly learning from my colleagues and my friends. But y’know, life is not all plain sailing, and even when you move to the other side of the world, you still have problems – emotions, arguments, complicated situations, angst, personal drama, sadness, yadda yadda yadda. I’m generally happy, of course, but… well, you know. So at a time when I’ve been having a lot of serious self-doubt in other areas of my life, it just felt good to write about and be happy about the part that’s going really, really well right now. So, no… not a desire for a lot of “Well done, Hails, you teaching genius, you!” feedback.
No. This one was just for me. :)