Teaching is hard.
Teaching is exhausting.
As a brand new teacher with just one month of TESOL training under my belt, teaching is a HUGE learning curve.
I teach four Anuban (the Thai word for kindergarten) classes at my school–two Anuban 2 classes, each composed of 32 four and five year olds, and two Anuban 3 classes, each composed of 23 five and six year olds. Whereas some English teachers in Thailand have hundreds of students and see their classes only once or twice a week, I see my Anubans everyday. This is great because I really am getting to know them. I’m developing relationships with them and because they see me everyday, they are able to get used to me and my teaching style with a lot more ease than if they only saw me once a week. Given that the small kiddies thrive on stability, this is a major plus.
For all the benefits of seeing my kids everyday–oh and their cute, shiny faces definitely are a major plus–it also means that I constantly have to be keeping them on their toes. What works for one class doesn’t always work for another. What worked yesterday might not work today.
My Anuban 3s are quite a bit more mature than my Anuban 2s, so I am finding that I can push them a lot more, whereas I’ve been constantly finding that I need to simplify my lessons for my 2s. Each of my four classes is very different and they require different needs and different forms of attention. I’m still trying to understand those different needs three weeks in and it certainly hasn’t been easy.
My school provides me with an in-depth curriculum that includes complete lesson plans. This is nice in that I have a very detailed idea of what I should be accomplishing each week in class. That said, in a way, it also makes my job more complicated because I know that some of the included lesson plan materials wont work for my classes. This means I’m constantly trying to rethink curriculum activities to fit the needs of my kids. In some ways, I feel like it would almost be easier to come up with lesson plans tailored to each class on my own. It would certainly take longer, but it would also mean I have full control over my lesson planning and I’d feel confident that they would work well for each individual class.
My students. They’re adorable, but they can be crazy. They don’t like to listen. Classroom management has been hard. Even if they are being good overall, they’re so young and their attention spans are so short.
That said, I’ve only been working here for three weeks and I can already tell you that I absolutely love these kids. For how difficult they can be, they are also so fun to work with. They show me so much love and gratitude. Having a student come up and hug me after class is one of the best feelings in the world
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I’ve had a couple really crappy days this week, where I’ve really questioned my role as a teacher; a teacher fresh out of TESOL, at that. But I’ve also had some really good days. I had a moment in class today where a light bulb went off in my head in the middle of teaching and I thought, “I’m doing something amazing right now.”
And it just made me feel so strong. So invigorated.
Because it is amazing. Being here in Thailand. The way I dropped myself without practically any qualms in a new country and culture just like that. Teaching English to these small, small students who are just now mastering Thai–and now they’re being asked to learn English. It is amazing and don’t want to forget that.
I only hope I can pass some English along to these kids…but, if nothing else I know that, without a doubt, I am a positive influence in their lives. Just me being here, showing them that I care and that I’m supporting them both inside and outside of the classroom–that’s something they will take with them for the rest of their lives.
And that. That is pretty amazing.
So yes, being a teacher is incredibly hard. Especially being a new teacher and especially being a teacher in a foreign country where there is a huge language barrier.
But I can already tell you that it is so worth it.