Now that Andrew and I have received our full medical clearance (YAY!!!) we’ve shifted our focus to our online TEFL trainings provided by the Peace Corps. Following is an essay that I wrote about how I feel about being a TEFL teacher:
As someone who struggles to remember the 20 different passwords to her various accounts, I found one this past year that helped me not only remember it, but brightened my day: liveyourpassion. I am just finishing up my third year of teaching Science and Language arts to 6-8th graders. While I do not know what I will do with the rest of my life, I do know that I am very passionate about teaching and learning. I have loved teaching these past three years and am very excited to get to continue exploring the world of teaching through the lens of the Peace Corps TEFL teacher trainer program.
Being a teacher truly fits my identity, fits what I believe about life and the ways in which we live most fully. For me, teaching is less about content and more about building community. I strive to be a part of creating intentional communities in all aspects of my life. It isn’t always easy, but I believe that when people come together with a shared set of values and strive to really get to know each other, the world becomes a little bit better place. Teaching allows me to build connections between people and ideas, to build bridges between human experiences.
John Perricone, an inspirational author for my teaching life, wrote, “We teach who we are.” I bring my whole self to my teaching; teaching brings me to my whole self.
While most of the information and teaching strategies of dos and don’ts in this session were a nice review, the part that I’m going to try to take with me and add to my repertoire is the idea of “striving for good enough.” As a perfectionist, I’ve struggled with this the past three years in my own teaching. My addiction to overachieving has proved difficult to combat, but I have been managing expectations and work/life balance a bit better this third year. However, learning a new language, and then teaching in that new language, will be harder than I even know right now. I can easily see myself wanting to do more, wanting to do better, and being frustrated when I struggle. The personal drive for excellence can be helpful. My self-loathing when I don’t measure up to my own idea of excellence is not. “Striving for good enough” may have to be a mantra I adopt over the coming months.
A practice I already try to avoid, but will continue to focus on, is not just being a deliverer of knowledge. I believe that true teaching is an opportunity to watch others be successful, to delight in their triumphs, and to compassionately understand their failures. When teaching consists solely of lecturing and imparting content knowledge, teachers run the risk of their students not reaching success. Students need to practice, especially language learners, in a safe and nurturing environment that will build their confidence as well as their experiences with the content. I hope to avoid teaching being about me and instead help it be about my students.
I felt that this introductory course into teaching portrayed teachers in a very appropriate light. Teaching is hard, but it can also be such a rewarding experience. The suggested practices to try and avoid are ones that I would suggest to beginners in the profession. I’m grateful for Peace Corps understanding the difficulties and strategies for success and giving them to TEFL teacher trainers early on in this process. It gives me a lot of faith for the program and hope for my cohort. I also appreciated that Peace Corps recognizes that while this will not be an easy placement, that humans are learners. Our students can learn much from a confident, competent teacher. Likewise, I can learn a lot from my students, this program, and the experiences I will have over the next few years of TEFL teaching. I cannot wait to get started!