Dedicated to Teachers, who I love.
Well, I’ve been learning how to teach. Mostly just by jumping right in and going for it. I feel a little bad for my students because I’ve been making plenty of mistakes along the way, but I’m learning SO MUCH!
This is all happening on Saturday afternoons when I teach English to middle school students from my church. My friend Cathy started the program about a year ago and needed some help, so I started on my 4th day in town. It was scary at first, but now I always look forward to it.
It’s funny because when I was looking to move overseas I was adamant about not wanting a teaching position. I didn’t think I had any skill in that area at all, and just wanted to do community development. Of course, teaching is a huge aspect of community development, but I was willing to look past that, because, as I said, I honestly didn’t think I could do it. I’ve had some really great teachers in my life, and known a lot of others – my mom, my friends’ parents, and now that we’re old enough, some of my friends themselves are teachers. But I was like, “Oh, no, not for me, thanks…”
But one of my favorite things about this learning process is that right in the middle of class, I can see that something’s not working and change it right then (and it inevitably happens each class…heh). And then this past week, I found myself suddenly using language learning techniques that I myself have used!
For class this week I printed out a set of words and cut them apart so they could be arranged into sentences (you know, like refrigerator magnets). My two co-teachers and I each took 5 students and sat on the floor and had them make sentences. Then I would work with them to change different aspects of the sentence, like the subject or the direct object. My students jumped right in and were doing a great job, and I saw that they needed more of a challenge. They went ahead and flipped over the scraps of paper and started writing and arranging their own words.
One boy made this sentence: I take a bath everyday. Then we talked about all the other things we do everyday and ended up with: My mom gets dressed everyday. I changed it to: My dog gets dressed everyday. And they just stared at me. I asked what the problem was and they were all like, “it’s false!” and they seemed pretty sure about that. So we changed it to: My dog does not get dressed everyday. And on-going process, super interactive and really fun.
It feels so good to spend time with them, and I think it’s a fairly unique teaching situation, too. If I was in a classroom everyday with 30 kids, I would have a really hard time, I think. (I’m not so good with the classroom management…) But this being outside of school and more focused on activities and practicing than instruction makes a difference too.
It’s interesting, too, because my full time volunteer assignment is with a women’s empowerment organization. I’ve been discovering that empowerment takes many different forms, and finding myself exploring different ways to build up the people around me in my daily interactions with them. I feel blessed being in the midst of it all, and teaching English to kids on Saturday afternoons is just part of all that.