I wanted to post an update about how teaching English is going, since some of you have been asking.
First of all, teaching English as a second language is extremely challenging; for many different reasons, but the biggest being cultural differences and language barrier. The way classrooms work is going to be different in every country. I’m learning what those differences are and how to use them to my benefit.
Despite the challenges, my students make me smile and my job makes me happy.
My students have a difficult time pronouncing my name, especially because we all call each other by Mr. or Ms. It has become a running joke that my name sounds like Ms. Six. Therefore, Johny, my boss, has taught some of my students to say Ms, and then hold up six fingers.
Then there is one student in my 5:30 class who constantly calls me Ms. Hips, not on purpose either. If he gets even a little bit excited, or frustrated, my name becomes Ms. Hips. I continue to correct him in hopes that someday he’ll get it right, but in the meantime I get a giggle out of it.
I will not speak Spanish in the classroom, except when it is absolutely necessary, which isn’t often. I have gotten through almost 6 weeks with the students believing that I don’t understand or speak Spanish, but that is changing. A couple of the students have learned that I understand Spanish pretty well and can respond to some things. Therefore they have begun testing me. They will ask me to say certain words just to hear my accent or ask me what certain things mean in English. I have a couple students that learned I knew some Spanish and automatically told me long, in-depth stories that I barely understood. I love the way that children think, everything is so black and white. Either you know a language, or you don’t know it, there is no in between with them.
Yesterday, on my way to the school, I hear “Ms. Hicks!!” being yelled. I turn around to see one of my 2 o’clock students running up behind me. She walked with my to the school, and even took my bag (which she wouldn’t give back to me until we were in the classroom). Having students recognize you and run to say hello is such a blessing.
One of the best things is getting hugs from my students at the beginning of the day, or when I’m around town running errands. The teacher-student relationship is so delicate, and so encouraging on both ends.
Just this week, I am learning what it means to make myself the authority figure. My students have reacted differently than I imagined. The students that I thought would become worse, have become some of my best students, and sadly, the opposite is occurring. A few students don’t take discipline and authority well, but they will learn. Students, especially at this age, like to know there is someone in charge. They need to know when a situation is okay, and when it’s not.
Teaching puts a lot of responsibility on a person, but it’s not just about the students learning. Earning the respect of your students and giving respect to your students takes time, but it is so worth it.
There are times in which a student is doing something they shouldn’t, but I can’t help but smile and sometimes that’s okay. Students need room to show their individuality, and yet still be acting appropriately. I have one student that likes to move, he has a hard time being still. When he is asked to be still for a while, he pretty much shuts down. Yesterday, I had him standing the back of the classroom because he wasn’t doing what was asked of him. He began dancing and being goofy, so I eventually had him sit down. As I was trying to tell him that what he did wasn’t okay, a laugh bubbled up inside of my and out of my mouth before I could stop it. I had to roll with it, I gave him a shake of the head and went back to teaching.
Students need space to grow, space to be kids, but they also need structure. They need consistency and rules, those are healthy! I have been learning so much through this experience. I’m so glad I have decided to stick to my commitment and stay here until the end of September. It’s going to make me a better teacher come the day I have my first teaching job in the states, and I’m excited for that!
That’s all for now, have a blessed day!