I wrote the following piece when I was still teaching at the language school where my teaching career first began. That point in my life marked my Second Wind, and I wrote this for my batch of English learners whose English Reading proficiency level ranged from Low Intermediate to Intermediate, as a fluency activity. Hence, I included the new words and phrases they were learning at that time – bold and underlined.
Language teaching is as I have come to realize, many things. First, it is not a job, but more of a vocation for me. It is getting acquainted with different kinds of people coming from different backgrounds.
The diversity in cultures, nationalities, interests and traits of students add to the interesting world of my classroom; moreover, since I am teaching mostly foreign students. It is not only getting acquainted with the different backgrounds but also getting in touch with their deeper soul, their deeper humanity that tells me who they really are and where they are coming from in terms of attitudes, beliefs and feelings, too.
I have learned in the course of time that people from all over the world are generally similar with one another. We all have similar goals and visions, but we choose different paths; we express ourselves in different ways.
Language teaching is also being introduced to a whole new world each time there is a new student. No two persons are alike whether they are of the same race or creed; hence, it is up to me to initiate a very striking conversation that will help make my student feel at home with me, and I with him or her.
Small talks, then, are important in breaking the ice. It is not that easy because there are many factors that may affect our first meeting, like a student’s hesitancy or shyness, or even fears, his or her own expectations of what I as a teacher am supposed to deliver or give, and to think that I, too, always experience some kind of reservation or apprehension toward that person.
There is a saying that first impression lasts, but I make it a point to go beyond that because I believe in being flexible.
As much as possible, I try to give leeway or space for growth to my student. I do not place him or her in a box, except perhaps when my first impression is indeed positive. Through time, it proves to be correct and I want my student to continue with his or her positive outlook (attitude). Yes, one of my favorite saying goes this way, “we can always better our best.”
So, it is also up to me to recognize my student’s special talents & skills, and to focus on them in a very positive and encouraging way. Of course, I have to painfully point out his or her weaknesses or shortcomings, but only for them to learn from these mistakes.
A student shows signs of progress when he or she can already recognize errors or mistakes, and as a teacher, I, too, in all humility, must acknowledge my own limitations.
“To err is human” is an adage or saying that applies to everyone. Learning to respect each other is a significant virtue that each one should observe in class.
One must not insist on what one likes or thinks; one must not be domineering or arrogant, whether one is a student or a teacher. We are all the same; we are just in different positions at a given point in time, but we learn from each other.
It is also fun to discover the real person sitting in front of me. I recall the genuine affection and admiration I have gotten from many of my students with whom I have already forged sincere and lasting friendships, I hope. I remember them with deep fondness, and sometimes with poignancy.
I believe that these are the greatest blessings I get from my teaching… good friends and beautiful friendships that no amount of financial rewards can ever repay.
In the end, this is what strikes me most about teaching — perhaps, because I am a mother that is why I will always feel this way towards my students and this is what I will always tell anyone of them…
“And just like how a mother feels over
Her children’s relentless efforts to learn
Your struggles and pains are also mine
Your sense of fulfillment is my joy, too.”
(a verse from my poem: A Teacher’s Tribute to Her Dear Students 04.01.02