lessons learnt from a year of teaching

“Rosary is celebrating 1 year”

That’s what LinkedIn greeted me with a couple of days ago. The first thing that fleeted through my mind was ‘have I really been at it for a whole year now?’ It really didn’t seem like too long ago that I was setting up my simple classroom, hanging up my whiteboard and stressing out about my first lessons. Teaching was something I’d never really planned on, rather it was something that I just kind of fell into. But it sure was a pleasant surprise to discover along the way that it’s something that I enjoy and might even be good at.

Before I dive into this article I just want to clear up a little something. When I say teaching, I mean private tutoring – English to be precise; one on one interaction for the most part, which I think makes it more intense and way more prone to fun times that can’t be had in a bigger classroom. I’m not undervaluing school teachers; far from it, I totally respect them and who knows someday I might just be one of them. But for now, these are just a few of the things I’ve learnt from being in this profession for a year. They are by no means general; in fact some are very specific and personal. So with that in mind, let’s get the quirkiness started.

  1. There will continually be people – friends, relatives, friends of relatives who will try to set you up with this job or that position thinking that this is just a temp; that it’s something to fill the time while you wait around for something else to open up. But on the contrary, I have turned down ‘real’ job offers to take this up.
  1. It’s basically just like any other job, some days you love it, other days not so much. The pay isn’t particularly great but when one of those kids shows me that piece of paper and says with the biggest smile “Miss, I got 96 on my English test this semester” it just makes it all worthwhile.
  1. I have no idea why but in an hour of class, the first half an hour always flashes by while the other half drags on.
  1. Movie days are a lifesaver when you have a headache and down with the flu.
  1. Letting kids write on the whiteboard is the most effective way to combat their drowsiness and general boredom.
  1. I say there’s never a dull moment, and while that’s true some of the time, the other half of the time I’m brain dead bored from explaining the same thing over and over again (sometimes to the same kid). But at the end of the day it’s all in the name of education, and if that’s not something worth sticking with I don’t know what is.
  1. Kids say the weirdest, funniest, most random things that you won’t ever fathom. They will blow your mind every time; and don’t even get me started on their imagination. It truly is on some other level to ours. They will conjure up the most bizarre creatures and dwellings that defy all laws of physics, chemistry and biology you’ve ever known.
  1. You come to accept that anything is possible in their eyes and when you ask them to write a story, as long as it’s grammatically sound, the rest don’t really have to be. Otherwise it would really drive you mad because the following is a list of just a few of the weird and wonderful things I’ve read and been asked; and yes, each one is genuinely thought up of and written solely by my students, no help needed from me. Take your pick as to which one tickles your fancy:
  • A 17-year-old Japanese guy, named Yeonalligi, gets turned into a kite and burns himself to death when he found out his girlfriend is already married – from my 5th grader when asked to write any story of his choosing.
  • A comic strip about a hedgehog named Caramel who has an acquired taste for bananas – from my 5th grader when asked to write about her pet (this one was actually really cute).
  • “Miss, help me to pass my IELTS ok? If I pass, you’ll become even prettier” – from my 11th grader who was worried about his upcoming IELTS exam (he passed with a 6.5).
  • A pyramid-shaped house with a UFO beaming you up as its only entrance and a crazy slide as its only exit – from my 4th grader when asked to describe her dream house.
  • “Miss, what happens when you hug tightly a really old man with really fragile bones?” – from my 5th grader… just out of the blue.

Now tell me with a straight face you don’t question half the things that go on in those kids’ head!

I have no idea where the next year of my life will take me; but if I’m lucky enough to still be teaching those adorable kids, then I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a good year after all.

lessons learnt from a year of teaching

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