I am starting to really love teaching English! Sounds kind of scary that I used the word 'starting' even though I have been doing it for nearly 7 months now, but let me explain...
When I first started my TESL program and did my 10 hour practicum, I couldn't really decide if it was something that I really loved. Even when I came to Japan and started teaching, I wasn't sure! But, these last few days I've really really enjoyed teaching. I can't say that I love all planning and coming up with creative ways to teach difficult material, (although I am blessed to be using a really good curriculum that requires very little planning and prep) but I can say that I absolutely love getting to know my students, and seeing them progress in their English. I know that a lot of their progress comes from the studies they do on their own, but it is very rewarding to be able to help them understand new things.
Yes, teaching English comes with it's fair share of difficulties, but the fun and laughter that I experience makes up for the challenges. Sometimes I have classes where I just can't seem to think of anything to talk to my students about, and things are painfully quiet and awkward for longer than I am comfortable with. Sometimes I get frustrated with beginner students who have placed themselves in an intermediate class, continually saying "I can't speak English" and rely on the other students to translate for her. Sometimes I just can't explain an English 'rule' and I just don't know what to say. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with not knowing how to get my students to stop speaking Japanese to each other (about things very unrelated to the lesson)...just sitting there as clueless as can be wondering how to get things back on track. Sometimes I get annoyed by the way certain students just don't catch on to the 'helpful' corrections I try to make and roll my eyes at the number of times they continue to make the same mistake over and over.
I love the satisfaction that comes when 'the lights come on' and a new word is understood or a concept has been grasped. I love the "ahhh, I understand" moments. I love the 'teachable moments' that come from daily conversations. I love seeing students carefully take notes from what I've said or written on the board. (and I love how I have one student who takes pictures of the whiteboard all the time!) I love the satisfaction of hearing someone correct their own mistake. I love hearing someone use something they learned in a previous lesson. I love seeing the excitement and pride that comes after someone shares about what they did last week or what they will do on the weekend. I love seeing each person's smiling face as they walk in and say hello, knowing that they are excited about coming to class. I love hearing the laughter during a game I planned... and I love laughing with my students as they enjoy their learning time.
As I'm looking at it now, my reasons for loving my job seem a little selfish, but that's not what I'm going for... I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm really enjoying how fun and rewarding teaching English can be.
Learning a second language is hard work and I really admire each and every one of my students. Since I am a language student myself, I'm a lot more sympathetic to my students now.
I was also thinking tonight about how much I love teaching sort of depends of the kind of student(s) I am teaching. I've got quite a few students that are 'harder to love' because they just seem to be so uninterested or they just don't 'get things' or as I mentioned earlier, they seem to keep on making the same mistakes over and over. Those are the students that make me not too eager to teach and sometimes they make my hour of teaching feel like an eternity!
But, on the other hand, I have several students that couldn't seem to love learning English any more! Having a student who constantly takes notes and asks questions and actively and enthusiastically participates in the activities just fuels my passion for the lesson. Having a captive audience makes such a difference... my whole attitude changes! As I think about it, it makes me wonder how my Japanese teacher feels about me... (hopefully she doesn't feel like her hour with me is an eternity!)
Some of my students are just SO sweet, trying so hard to learn and understand my lessons and stories. I especially appreciate the students who take the time to ask me what I did last week before we move on to the lesson.
I think one of the things that I love most about teaching English is my students and the joy they bring to me. I rarely have a class without laughter and I love that! Sometimes I have to hold in my laughter because it would probably damage someone's pride, but most of the time, I get to laugh along with my students because they really are having fun! I don't know if I can see myself teaching English for the rest of my life, but I really do enjoy it for now!
But, the thing that I love best about teaching English is how it's bringing people into contact with the church and people are studying the Bible for the first time because they've come to my class. It's a blessing to have this 'skill' to draw people into the church, and be a part of them studying the Bible. In spite of my insecurities as a teacher, I'm honored that God is using me to draw people to Himself through my English classes.
These days, I've really been focusing on what a blessing laughter and joy really are and I am so thankful for the amount of joy that God has given me in my life! I would be so miserable without laughter!
anyway, I suppose that's enough rambling for now! I realize that was a lot of random thoughts strung together, but I hope it makes sense! thanks for reading! Have a great week! Don't forget to take some time to appreciate the things that make you smile and bring joy to your life... and be sure to thank God for them!