I never post much about my personal life on this space. The main reason for that is because I like to keep my private life private, to a certain extent at least. My main reason for that is my profession. In case you didn’t know, I am a teacher and I have been teaching for more than 9 years by now. If there is one part of my life that you see the least of, it is my professional life. However, I think that talking about my experience as a teacher might be helpful to some people, so I figured I should try and write about it.
Teacher’s life: grading, lots and lots of grading…
For me teaching has always been a first choice when it comes to my career. I knew I wanted to be either a teacher or a journalist when I was 14. I tried my hand at both and I stuck with teaching because it came most natural to me. In the past 9 years I’ve taught people between the ages 12 and 65. I started my teaching career as a teacher of Dutch as a Foreign Language (or NT2) when I was still a student myself. I finished my English MA and then did a teaching degree, which means I have another MA in English language teaching. For my teaching degree I took on a job, rather than an internship, at a secondary school teaching English to Dutch students.
The secondary school was my first real teaching experience. The Dutch job was a good starting point, but dealing with teenagers who could care less about what you are trying to teach them definitely is a beast on its own. I worked there 2 years and dealt with anything and everything under the sun. From students disrupting lessons because they are afraid of bees, to hyperventilation during a test because the poor guy was too stressed out and from eager students to the lackluster ones: I’ve seen many situations and have dealt with many different problems, people and student levels. However, after 2 years I just felt that secondary school wasn’t my mojo and so I applied to jobs in higher education.
And that’s where I’ve been ever since. I’ve been teaching English at two different schools for almost 6 years now. I find that young adults, aged 17 and up, are the age group I work with best. It still has its challenges, as any teaching job does, but I also find it the most rewarding. I am still young, so I don’t know what the future will hold for me, but I can see myself working in higher education for a while to come. It doesn’t mean it is my end station by any means and with job security not really being something that is prominent nowadays I foresee many more job changes and different and challenging situations to tackle.
Like I said, I teach English to Dutch students mostly and that is not without its challenges. I have dealt with many different levels of English: from very basic, learning everything from scratch, to higher near-native levels. Luckily my English is of such a level that 9 out of 10 times, my English will be better than my students’ in any case and so I have to do little prep regarding reading up on grammar rules or explaining vocabulary at the levels I have taught the most. I can just focus on the tasks at hand and I like to get creative and make up my own lessons as much as I can. I dislike teaching from a book as I find it too restrictive and leaves little room for creativity and figuring out yourself how you take your students from point A to B.
Another challenge you face on a daily basis when you’re teaching, no matter the subject I believe, are the different ways in which people learn. Even though all the students are roughly of a similar age, they are still individuals and every person acquires knowledge in different ways. Which is why I like to get creative. I try to come up with different work forms to try and tackle as many different ways of learning as possible. The students who I currently teach need a more active based approach, but I have also encountered groups who can easily tackle long stretches of text without a problem. The trick to being a teacher is, in my opinion, to find out what makes your students tick.
Of course this is only one person’s idea of what teaching is and why I became a teacher. To be quite honest, I became a teacher, because it is something I am good at. I am not trying to brag and claim I am the best teacher out there, but I do think that I have always had that passion to try and convey knowledge. It’s one of the reasons why I started this blog and it’s something I do in every day life as well. Because I am good at what I do, I also enjoy what I do. Even though I have never been without doubts about what I wanted to do with my life, I find that teaching is one profession that allows me to combine some of the things I love most: tell stories, teach people something new, while at the same time learning so much about myself in the process. Because believe me when I say that if there is one way in which you are going to find out a lot about yourself that you would rather not know, it’s by becoming a teacher. But that would be a completely different blog post.
Would you like me to see me tackle some more teacher related topics? And if so, what would you like me to write about?