I never thought that I would be a teacher when I was in high school. In fact, it was the furthest thing from my mind. Giving a simple presentation in front of my English class was enough to put the fear of God in me. Giving lessons in front of a class on a daily basis? Unfathomable.
But it’s funny what can happen as you grow into yourself. Our innate capabilities almost sneak up on us, or to use a different metaphor, flower out of a hidden garden. As I went through college, graduated, and bounced around the southeastern U.S. for a couple years, I began to stumble across parts of myself I didn’t know existed.
The fear of public speaking had given way to an organic confidence in who I was gradually becoming.
I’ve always loved learning, and at some point I realized that this passion for learning was one of the key components for being a good teacher. This passion allows you to inspire others to love learning, too. To be honest, there are a lot of different ways we can be bad teachers. Most of us can roll out plenty of stories on that topic!
The good news is that, in my opinion, it’s far easier to be a good teacher. If you’re a real human (as I’m sure you are) with an appreciation for the phenomenon of learning new things, you’re already way ahead of the game. No, really! Because LIFE is learning, the process of teaching shouldn’t be anything more or less than completely natural.
When I realized this, I became excited in the prospect of becoming an ESL teacher. I got some experience tutoring inner city kids in Jacksonville, FL after school. Each of the kids had their own learning styles, but I realized that connecting with them was really half the battle. I noticed that it surprised them!
I don’t want to blame teachers for the way students are taught today. If you ask me, it’s our school system that’s the problem (here in America, at least). The school system allows teachers to disconnect from their kids, because cultivating young intellects isn’t really what our schools are about anyway. And the kids can feel that.
The great spectacle of our system’s failures has distracted us from the basic fundamentals of being an educator. We forget how intensely, unavoidably human it is to educate. One of the Latin roots of ‘educate’ is ducer, which means to ‘lead out’. To educate, then, is to lead into knowledge.
Imagine leading another person into anything without having some sort of relationship established first!
This is what my new ebook, How To Be A Successful ESL Teacher, is about in a nutshell. I wrote it because I feel like people have been miseducated on what being a good teacher is supposed to look like. There are so many young people today who want to teach ESL as a means to travel the world, but who aren’t really sure what teaching a class entails.
Sure, there are the nuts & bolts of grammar, greetings, and the sounds that different letters make. But what is it, exactly, that makes the students care about any of that stuff? It’s all about how you engage them as a teacher, how you honor them by treating them like people as opposed to empty vessals that need to be filled.
We all start out with doubts as teachers. I know I did, but I was also amazed at how easy it became to hit my stride in the classroom, in the language center, in the homeschool co-op. I think everyone can have this kind of amazing, break-through experience as a teacher, and if that’s the case, I have a lot of optimism for mankind.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below or to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s chop it up! Until then, peace & love…