I’m new to teaching. I graduated from Miami University (Ohio) in May 2012 with a degree in linguistics. I spent much time my senior year tutoring, but besides that I had little experience before coming to China. Until last year, I have been a student all my life. I’ve had good teachers, bad teachers, crazy teachers, and teachers that have impacted me for the rest of my life.
As a teacher now, I have so much to learn and understand. Every day is different for me. Some days I think to myself, “this is so easy” or “I can do this with my eyes closed.” Other days I want to scream because I can’t figure out how to reach my students on a meaningful level. For me, being a teacher is being a friend, being someone to confine in, being a motivator and an inspirer. I want to be able to give my students something more than just how to pronounce a word correctly or how to use a word properly. I want to give them excitement and passion. I want them to see how much they are capable of and how much I believe in them.
Some days lessons work, some days they don’t. Some classes can’t get enough of me, some classes can’t wait to run out the door. As I lesson plan I sometimes think, “oh man, this is going to be awesome” and then I leave my class questioning what went wrong. The point is, as a teacher, you never know when something will work out or when it will fall to pieces. Every class reacts differently.
This week I chose to teach about confidence because I have seen a lot of differences between Chinese students and students back home. I had them answer some questions about themselves and then draw an image that represented them to share with their classmates. Afterwards I showed them videos about self-esteem, achieving goals, and working hard. I brought up how I see Americans being raised in the sense of what we are capable of achieving, nothing short of the anything. I then asked them to compare how they were brought up as Chinese. People in China are typically supposed to fit in. No one is to be any better or any worse than the next person. In the classroom, for example, students don’t like to raise their hands. At first I thought it was because they were shy or nervous, but I’ve slowly been realizing more that it’s a part of their culture. Students don’t want to show off like they do in the states. They wait to be picked by the teacher and then take that opportunity to show their intelligence. If they are chosen to speak, they aren’t showing off if they were to volunteer themselves.
I was very excited for this lesson, but as class went on I wasn’t sure if anyone was listening. “Do they care?” I asked myself. By the end of class I didn’t know what to think. Was it just an off day, was I simply reading them wrong, or did I do something wrong in my lesson execution? Then the end of class came. Students shuffled off and I began to pack up when one of my students came up to me. This particular student has been reaching out to me a little and last class he asked me for some movie suggestions, so I simply thought he was coming to collect those.
I was wrong. What happened next was one of my best moments in China thus far. He came up to me and began to thank me for my lesson. He told me that he thought that I chose a perfect topic for him and his classmates and that I encouraged him to be all that he wants to be. He told me that he no longer wants to just fit in or be who others think he should be. He said that he wanted to become who he saw himself as, take everyday as a learning opportunity, and achieve his life long goals. He stood their for a few minutes simply praising me and thanking me. Telling me that what I did for them was simply amazing and encouraging.
I have never felt the way I did when he left. I wanted to hug him, I wanted to cry, and I wanted to get to my next class. I was teaching about confidence, motivation, and life goals, but my student instilled the confidence in me that I needed to make a difference in all of their lives.
I just have to say, if you have a teacher that has made an impact in your life tell them because nothing could feel better to them. That’s what I’m working for and I think that’s what all teachers want. To have a student tell me that I am making a difference for him or her is the best thing I could ever here.