So I am excited to announce that I’ve successfully finished my first year teaching! And while it is really one of the main things that kept me away from this space, it was a really great experience, and I learned a lot. I am going to ease my way back into writing over the summer (hopefully) and try and keep this corner of my world up to date.
I’m planning on going back next year and I’m ready to put into practice all of the new systems I’ve established for myself, as well as to get a new group of students. I am actually really surprised how much I have enjoyed teaching over the past months. I didn’t expect to like it so much! During my first year, I had to figure a lot of things out, so I put together a short list of things that I’ve learned:
- Teaching is rewarding. I have really enjoyed taking a step back from the law firm over the last 10 months and really getting to have complete creative liberty over what I do each day – at least while I’m at school, anyway. I especially like the paradox of teaching teenagers the same things that they learned in elementary school, only in a different language. If we want to study vocabulary, we’ll play bingo. Verb conjugations? Relay race! The dynamic has helped keep the school year fun – although I can’t speak for my students.
- Teenagers are hard. This isn’t really new information to me, especially since Justin is a youth pastor, but it comes into a while new light when you deal with them every day. While I don’t know if I would like teaching elementary, high schoolers have their own set of difficulties. I am also learning not to compare them to each other, but to recognize each of their own strengths and weaknesses in and of themselves.
- If you’re going to teach it, you should probably know it. One of the things I used to love about being in the school of business in college was being thrown into a situation where you had to think on your feet. In many ways, teaching has done that for me this year. Partly because this is my first year teaching, and partly because it’s been a while since I’ve studied the in’s and out’s of the French language. There have been many early mornings at school cramming in the day’s lesson and trying to remember all the details so that I at least have the appearance of knowing what I’m talking about. (Just don’t tell my administrator.)
- Some students will do the absolute minimum to get by with the grade they want. While grace has its place in a classroom, you have to know that some students push that line as far as they can. A small minority will absolutely blow you away with the effort and creativity that they put into their work.
- Having two jobs is hard. And tiring. And absolutely impossible if you’re sick. But from my perspective, the creativity and autonomy and interaction that comes from teaching makes it a lot easier. 5.b. Teachers are underpaid for all of the work they do. For realsys.