If you know me personally and/or have talked to me about my experiences teaching, you’ll know that it hasn’t been the easiest for me.
I started in October with minimal teaching experience and no official training. Ok, sure, I had been a teaching assistant at university, a tutor, and a group leader/camp counselor, but never had I worked in this kind of a setting, and with such little direction and supervision.
It’s been quite a journey and learning experience. Quite frankly it’s been a real challenge. Full of surprises, good and bad days, and frustration.
If you are a future or potential TAPIF assistant, be warned. The job really is what you make of it as well as a bit of chance – as your role really depends on the teachers you work with. That said, there are eleven English teachers in the high school where I work, and I have a different role in each of their classes. Sometimes I do what I want, sometimes what the teacher wants. Sometimes I listen to oral exams or train unmotivated students to analyze surprise documents for oral exams. Other times I was/am able to study a subject of my choice, like this week I taught about the Beatle’s and analyzed “Revolution.”
What I really want to say, though, is it’s really important to not ever give up hope. I think this is the most important rule for teaching. I learned this because I had lost hope for one class and was really discouraged; well I somehow repaired the relationship.
I have had this class for the whole time I’ve been here. Originally, the class was split into three groups of about 12 students. I’d always sort of had trouble with them and I had recently found out that they told the teacher that they did not want to go to my class. This kind of surprised me because most of the other classes seem to enjoy my classes, and the other teachers tell me that the students are eager to come. Something needed to change.
Well this week we tried something different. On Monday I had a quarter of the class and we switched groups in the middle, and I was to give them participation grades at the end. I’m not sure switching was necessary, but it definitely helped having fewer at a time. Well, at the end, one girl, probably the best in the class, came up to me and started talking to me in English. She apologized for the class’ behaviour, telling me she did not understand, that she enjoys my classes, and that she feels more comfortable in my class than with the teacher. That really touched me because she did not have to do that.
On Wednesday, the teacher decided to give me the four most unruly students for the whole hour. I convinced her to let me have the girl I just mentioned. Well I learned that even difficult students can become motivated and that one student with whom I’d had a difficult relationship for the last six months enjoyed the class. He really put forth quite a bit of effort, really trying both to understand and to speak. I think it was partly because of the previously mentioned girl; she really helped act as an intermediary. Well, it all just goes to show you that everyone can surprise you and that classes you don’t like can get better.