It’s hard to notice those small changes happening. But then, one day it’s all of a sudden light out on your way to school and you realize just how dark and cold the mornings used to be. Then, one day, you realize how little time you really have left.
This past week I celebrated many “ups” of this constantly changing experience I’ve had. Teaching is hard. It’s exhausting and challenging and requires so much energy and I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing half the time. Lesson planning takes me ages and sometimes things I think sound so great aren’t received well, and other things I am less confident in, the kids love.
There are moments when the quinto básicos are running around and I can’t get them to pay attention for more like 30 seconds, or the sexto básicos are tearing apart my nametags that I should never leave within reach of any student, or when the segundo medios are glaring at me with their arms crossed and when I throw the ball to them they just let it drop on the ground.
But then there are those moments when those same quinto básicos are all in unison screaming, “I love pizza!” “I like apples!” “I hate salad!” that you can’t help but scream as loud as you can with them and hope the whole school can’t hear you. Or when those same segundo medio boys are putting on your clothes and you have tears in your eyes from laughing so hard. And amongst those fun moments, when your cuarto medios write a dialogue combining different phrases they have learned so far and your heart is so warm and happy because you see that they have made the tiniest bit of progress. Or when someone says “Profe, no puedo” and you patiently wait and encourage them and they try and do succeed at saying something as small as the date. Or when that one student that was so intimidating to you in the beginning and who you thought hated going to your class is disappointed that his group doesn’t go today because “you make learning English fun”.
And just a week ago, I was talking to another volunteer about how sometimes I get discouraged because I feel like I don’t have enough experience or that I’m afraid they won’t be that much better at English when I leave. But also, that one of my favorite things is the way the dynamic in the room changes in the beginning of class to the end. I consider it a success if I can change the energy in the room from quiet or groaning about answering my review question to all chattering, happy, and reminding me about the tongue twister at the end of class. I know that the amount of English they learn will end up being very minimal. I’m not going to be able to see anyone become a fluent English speaker during my time at Colegio Maipo. But maybe all that I can do is try to create a warm and happy classroom where they can have a little fun and feel cared for and receive some positivity and kindness.
“It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless,” – L.R. Knost