Well, I have been teaching English for two months now, and let me say this is definitely the most challenging endeavor I have ever taken on. Don’t worry! I am happy, I like my job, and I like my students! I’m not having a change of heart. However, some days I come home from class at 7:30 pm and only have the energy to crawl into bed. And I want to give you a realistic picture of what my life has been like for the past two months.
Everyone always says the first year is the hardest, so I try to take everything in stride, but I also don’t think I set myself up for success when I agreed to teach five different levels and classes without an established curriculum. (Rookie mistake!) It takes A LOT of time to write lesson plans and class materials for five separate classes. I have Mondays free for planning and I plan all morning during the week, but still it’s not enough. Sometimes I take the whole weekend to plan to try to get ahead, but that usually backfires because something will happen in class the next day that forces me to change the rest of the week’s plans. (The examples run from the typical: that activity took waaay longer than I thought it would or I have to pause the lesson to remind students why it’s not okay to call each other idiots to the completely unforeseen: I don’t realize that my high-schoolers don’t know how to identify the subject of a sentence (in Spanish) or half of my students stop showing up for two weeks to participate in a different library project.) Plus, without the weekend away from teaching, I don’t have the opportunity to chill out and re-energize for the next week. I’m lucky I have an awesome boyfriend who is cool with vegging out with a movie and some pan dulce! That lazy escape over the weekend totally saves me!
It’s a crazy job and I’m stressed out more often than not, but my classes have had some small successes:
1. All my students greet me outside of class in English.
2. All my little kids know their numbers in English and can count on the fly (even outside of class!)
3. After implementing a “star student” poster campaign with the elementary school students, there have been noticeable changes in behavior. Some of them will tell me, “Miss Lindsay, I’m going to be a star student today!”
4. My adult students are kicking butt at English! They know so much, and they started with basically nothing. They can write paragraphs about themselves with very few errors! I’m so, so proud of them!
5. The elementary school students practiced and performed three songs at the library’s mother’s day event.
Okay, so maybe that doesn’t seem like a lot, but given the fact that some days I have kids running through the classroom screaming with giant canvas signs over their heads to try to get attention or students who get up in the middle of class to have conversations with their friends, I’m not all that disappointed in what we’ve been able to do. Still a lot of room for improvement, but I will be taking some time this month to prep some new class policies and plan out goals for each class.
Slow and steady!