Wednesday, February 27, 2013

365 Inspirations—58: My Students

A little blurry, but here are my students from last summer!
"A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning."— Brad Henry 

Recently I've been thinking that I'd like to change my job. Not seriously. I'm just toying with the idea. I've been teaching ESL for so long and sometimes I wonder if it even suits me. It's a job I started doing years ago when I was traveling. I taught English in Mexico, Japan and Korea. I didn't start teaching English because I was crazy about the English language. I did it because that's what people often fall into when they live overseas.

Over time, I got a knack for teaching, but I'm still not crazy about teaching English itself. I think the best part of teaching for me is the connection and interactions with the students. That's what I get the most  from. I figure, if it's not fun for me, it probably isn't fun for them either, so I've had to find inventive ways of teaching grammar, etc.

We usually have a party at the end with food from all over the world!
I don't pretend to be an expert at the English language and know that if you review my blog you'll probably find some mistakes. That's what happens when you write every single day. Besides, blogging is a little more free flow and conversational, I feel. I could not write anything if I were worried about making mistakes.

I think that's what I try to pass on to my students. I let them know that it's okay to make mistakes and the best way to learn is to just dive in. I want it to be fun for them and I also want them to learn something new. I think they really appreciate this and it makes for a very comfortable learning environment.

When they think something's hard, I tell them, "No it isn't. It's a piece of cake!"
While I love the connections and the mutual learning that takes place, I still ponder doing other things. I think about writing full-time or getting a degree in psychology or something like that. Lately, I've been going through a sort of mid-life crisis, I guess. I'm only 43, so maybe it's a little premature.

We only have a few weeks left in the quarter. I've been trying to wrap things up and, as much as I enjoy my students, I've been looking forward to the end.

While making my rounds today and checking to see if students were on the right page and following along with the assignment, a Russian student said, "Kathy, will you teach the same time and level next quarter?" I told her, "No, sorry, my schedule changes all the time. I'll be teaching something different."

 She looked very sad and then she said, "You are the best teacher I've ever had and I really want my husband to study in your class next quarter. You explain things so clearly and I've really learned so much in your class."

So each time I think of running away from my job and throwing myself into an entirely different mode of life, a student like this woman comes along and throws a monkey wrench in my plans.

I don't know what it is, but I must be doing something right. While the English language may not be my ultimate passion in life, connecting and communicating with people is. It's the same reason I wrote my memoir and why I keep writing here on this blog.

So for now, I will keep on connecting and communicating in any way I can. I'm grateful for all of my students. I learn so much from them too. It's a mutual exchange and I'm lucky to have been in touch with hundreds of students from dozens of countries.

The entire world has been in my classroom. I feel lucky for that.

Do you ever think of switching careers? Are you living your passion? Are there parts of you job that you don't really like?


  1. It is really inspiring to bring knowledge to others. About your question, I am unsure about what to path to follow : psychology or languages.

    I worked in Marketing, doing surveys towards people on the phone. It mas a matter of adapting myself to the job itself, however, there are job areas which I don't see myself working such as sales, for example.

    Great post, as always.

    Kind regards***

  2. I know exactly what you're talking about with the reference to the student who admires your teaching--just when you think maybe you should be doing something else, someone seems to validate you staying where you are!

    I have changed careers several times. I taught English for a while. I worked as a public servant for years, almost eight of those years as a health educator. Then I changed jobs a few times before I landed a job as a newspaper reporter. I had been interested in journalism when I was in high school and college, but I'd never had the courage to try it. So at age 46, I tried it, and I'm still doing it. I recently changed to part-time. Someday I'd like to be a full-time writer doing my own writing.

  3. I happen to love my job (college counselor) but I frequently feel pulled to pursue my ultimate dream of spending my life volunteering overseas :) it's a dream that I just can't shake...

  4. I never meant to change careers. It was forced on me

  5. I loved this post, I'm not working but the same applies to me regarding the blog;-P.

    Sometimes I'm so upset abt staying home but then again I count my blessings at being able to give quality time to the children. I console myself that there is time...when in a few years when they get on with their lives I can still pursue a few of my dreams if not all:-P.

    Your blog is lovely....restful and emits positivity. Sometimes it even gets me all teary-eyed:-).