Teacher’s Journal: What makes a teacher?

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I Ended Up Teaching in China

Met Mitch in Kotor, Montenegro and I spoke to him about what I do. I travel the world teaching English and he said, "no way, how can I do that?". Well, now he is in China doing the same. This is how it happened.

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Completing our studies and preparing to teach, we learn that we are supposed to be so many things as teachers. Not only do we assume one of the most important roles in the children’s lives after their family, we also need to encourage them to be better than we are – they are, after all, a new generation, meant to be more progressive in their thinking, more open and wise than the previous one.

What makes a teacher?

Besides the fact that the core of the teaching vocation is to share knowledge on a particular subject, our job is also to be present, to protect, to be open-minded, to be firm but also to be friendly and emotionally available at the same time, to be ready to respond wisely at any given moment, to be caring and have tricks upon our sleeve in almost any situation.

It could seem as too much, yet it can be done.

If you are lucky enough to have gotten a chance to be a teacher, don’t waste that chance. Don’t think about the results of your work. Make the most of it, give the most you can. Grow, encourage, inspire.

Inspiration and a reminder to self as a teacher

You are aware that, if you’re a teacher, you will most likely be a big influence in the most delicate time of someone’s life, right?

You want to be as gentle and as strong as possible. This is a giving profession, you should love it and let it transform you. Nevermind how great of a student you were, you start learning the moment you start teaching. If you feel like you can’t do it, find something else that you might be better at. Otherwise you’ll just be an appearance of a teacher without the substance of a human being.

Something helpful and important to remember: never look down on your students. You don’t know everything, this is a learning proces for you too. If you want to be a teacher, the first thing you need to know is: respect your students.

They all have their stories, their unique personalities – let yourself be driven by differences and inspired by the fullness of your experience of teaching. Also, by respecting them and treating them like reasonable, sentient beings, you will (most likely) earn their respect too.

One of the most helpful lessons that I ever got is “always have a ready toolbox”, meaning always have a lot of activities and material prepared, so that whatever unexpected happens, it doesn’t matter for you because you’re ready. Think in advance.

Important lessons

It is helpful to have a journal, especially if you’re new at teaching. If you write a journal you can help yourself day by day. Write the things that happened in class, something that inspired you, confused you, maybe even hurt you or left you puzzled.

When you’re in touch with how you felt and thought at the time, you are better at dealing with new situations. But more importantly, when you’re in touch with yourself, you can be in touch with others. Be there for yourself, allow yourself to make mistakes and learn from them, it’s that basic.

Then, learn to be there for others. Children are amazing so this teaching experience will be very rewarding. Come on. Go, jump, and don’t look back.

Let me finish with one of my favorite quotes: Even the best material will fail if the teacher’s heart is not there. What that means is, it starts with you. Best of luck.

What did you fear most about going into teaching? Leave a comment below.

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