Though I was lucky enough to get financial aid all throughout college, this resulted in my not getting a job until this past January, when I started working six or seven hours a week tutoring Japanese. I starting private tutoring ESOL in April, only five months ago.
So imagine my surprise when a random resume drop-off (with a not-so-good self introduction, btw) resulted in my university’s English Language Institute calling me up with a job offer. Two days later, I had my own intermediate grammar class and a surprisingly hefty hourly salary. A second class, Reading and Vocabulary, was added the following week.
I have to say, teaching a class is a lot different than private tutoring. The students I worked with before were more self-motivated, and because we worked one on one, we were able to make more progress in a session. Though I have some dedicated students in my ELI classes, almost half of them don’t show up on a regular basis. This makes it very hard to coordinate tests. On top of that, some students feel entitled to special treatment based on some logic that I just can’t fathom. “Teacher, teacher,” says the student who’s missed the last three classes, “I didn’t know about a test today. I can take tomorrow?”
There are times, however, when I am pleasantly surprised. Like when most of the Muslim students who had three days off for the Ramadan celebration chose to take the test despite having missed the entire chapter and being completely caught off guard. I thought that was rather brave.
The most amazing thing is that I was able to get this opportunity at all. In fact, I almost turned down the offer because I was terrified of failure. I’d only been tutoring for eight months! How could I possibly hope to teach an entire class without any actual training? The person I was not long ago would have turned it down. What actually convinced me to accept, I’m still not sure; surely it was an amazing opportunity, and everyone said I should take it. But the final decision was mine, and it surprised even me.
Every day I learn something new about my students and about teaching groups. It’s a lot of work both inside and outside the classroom, and not everything I try is successful. In a way, I’m learning more than many of those I teach. But if that weren’t the case, I think I would be hopeless as a teacher. I’m on such a level now that I need to learn and keep improving as much as I can.
And so I will.