~ By Grace
Being a teacher has been an idea in my mind for a while now. I have many friends who went abroad to do an ESL program or joined Teach for America right out of college. Once the opportunity came up and it was the right time I decided it was time to take that leap. There were several thoughts that crossed my mind about how the experience would be. Something that I didn’t think of, but have been experiencing in almost all my classes is how there are students who remind me of what I was like as a child.
I remember on my first day of giving classes by myself, there was a sixth grade girl who immediately caught my attention. The way she talked, carried herself, and personality was strangely familiar. Within a couple minutes I realized that she was a lot like me, or who I used to be. Once my attention was brought to that thought I began to see it more with my other students. I think I’ve got a taste for what it was like to be my teacher way back when. Knowing who I am and how I was as a student, what I struggled with, excelled at, enjoyed, found boring, and pushed me has made me attentive to knowing how to be malleable for my students.
I have several students who are very boisterous. Sitting still for long periods of time, having to be quiet for a long time, or finding it hard to pay attention can make students very fidgety. As a student I got a lot of, “Gracie, sit down. Gracie, turn around. Gracie, shh.” Those are probably my most used phrases as well. The lesson plans are the same for all the English teachers. Sometimes depending on my class, I’ll tweak something in the lesson to make it more interactive, participatory, or exciting for certain classes.
As a student I’ve always been a little shy to talk with teachers about where I was struggling and when I needed help. Several of my students are timid as well. Every single one of my students are capable of learning English and excelling at it. I’ve seen every one of my students have an ah-ha moment where new words or a topic finally clicked. During activities I try to get to every child to make sure they understand or if they need help. I don’t know why, but I’ve realized that kids are more open to talking about their challenges if I talk with them one-on-one. I was the same way. If a teacher took time out to focus on how I was doing, I felt more inclined to ask for help.
I’ve been getting to know my students more as the semester has progressed. I spend recess talking to several different students. Even though the age difference, life experiences, and even cultural differences are apparent, it turns out that we can relate to each other a lot. I love getting to know them as people and not just as my students. They have so much to offer and I’m learning so much from them.