April 16, 2010

Another missed day, but not a missed blog!

I woke up a bit late yesterday, got my act together for work, and suddenly realized that I hadn’t written anything. I find that my best time for ‘thinking’, is early morning. I don’t know why. Maybe, because I’m not fully awake, and therefore haven’t processed anything. Maybe my brain is more active than I think it is, in the mornings. Whatever the reason, I forgot.

Well, since there are no rules about writing blogs, there are no guidelines, there are no marks given, and there may not be anyone interested in reading it anyway, does it really matter?

I try to encourage my students to write. With my private students, I sort of insist that they write about SOMETHING each week. Why? It helps them to learn the language. It helps them to understand the grammar rules. It helps them to use their brains. It helps them to think in English.

I’ve always been a firm believer in setting an example. “Do as I do, not as I say,” I suppose the saying could go. If I want them to write, then I should be able to show them that it isn’t that difficult a task. If I just tell them (or REQUEST of them) to do something, and I can’t back up my actions, then I’m not a very good teacher, nor a good ‘example-setter’.

[inset segway]

Over my lifetime thus far, I have had a wide and varying line of work. I’ve work for small business, and large. I’ve worked for private companies, and government. Now, I’m in a field where I feel I can make the most of the knowledge that I have, no matter how little or great. If I can help one student to learn something each day, than I have passed on what knowledge I have, to the next generation.

I’m not trying to change the world. Good lord, there are over 6,000,000,000 of us little creatures here, there is no way I alone, can do that. However, as I say, if even one person changes their viewpoint, or stops to think about what they’ve said, or heard, or adds a new word to their vocabulary, then I feel I’ve done something.

As a fan of Facebook (obviously, if you’ve read ANY of my blogs, I write about it a lot!), I try to read everything that all my ‘friends’ have written, no matter how intelligent or mundane. Everyone has a point of view, everyone is an individual, everyone has the right to speak their mind. At times, I may shake my head and wonder, “What the h***?”, but it is not for me to question their ideas or judge what they write.

At other times, I have to sit back, absorb, and take into consideration what people say. There is a lot good stuff out there… it’s just a matter of finding it.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve had a lot of jobs. However, teaching has got to be one of the most satisfying jobs or careers that I have had. In the beginning, it was more a desire for change. To do something different. Get out of a rut, so-to-speak. I would never had imagined, 8 or 9 or ever 25 years ago, that I would be doing this kind of work. Oh, sure, I’ve ‘taught’ people how to do a task for a job. But not to the extent that this job has done. And as a side note, I really should call it a career, since I ‘hope’, I will not be doing anything else until my day of retirement, say, 95.6 years from now!

As I was looking through the Facebook postings the other day, I noticed upon a comment by a friend of mine, who used to teach here in Taiwan. Her name is Karla. She is now a teacher in Canada, and apparently, seems to still enjoy it as much as I do. Here is her comment:

Karla Duchesne I so am blessed with the opportunity to be a teacher, I truly see it as an opportunity…it can be challenging at times, and has caused some grey hairs…but there is nothing I would rather do, I have never had a job where everyday I am able to smile, laugh, and feel like I am making a difference…

I share this sentiment, well, except for the grey hairs thing, because, well I don’t have any (knock wood or head, whichever is closer)! Challenging, definitely. I suppose it is one thing to be teaching the general subjects in school, where the teacher and students speak the same language. But try, just for a moment, to teach something to someone in another language. Especially a language that is so different as Chinese to English!

I remember all too well, from grade 7 to the end of high school, learning French. I was also fortunate enough to have a parent, mom, who spoke French, since she was from Quebec. When I look back, the thing that I felt was helpful, was the fact that English and French are somewhat similar. Sure, there are a lot of differences, but the basics – numbers, alphabet, lower-level words – were similar enough to understand.

However, the students here in Taiwan have quite a challenge, as do I. The alphabet is different, the way words are formed is different, meanings can be different. So, although at times I tend to get frustrated with students, I have to take a back seat and realize where they are coming from.

Most students don’t have English-speaking parents. Most students have never traveled outside Taiwan, and if they do, it is kind of the norm, that people travel in tour groups, not alone as North Americans tend to do. Most students only study English because it is one of the subjects taught in school. They don’t see the ‘big picture’, a.k.a, the world as a whole.

I haven’t always wanted to be a teacher, but now that that is what I’m doing, I kind of wish that I had been doing this all my life. I’ve learned a lot about myself, I’ve learned a lot about students, I’ve quite simply, learned a lot!

I may not be able to change the world, or the country, or the city, or the school, but knowing that I have opened the eyes of even one student in my class, shows me, that I do have something to offer.


1 Comment

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One response to “April 16, 2010

  1. All my life I had always wanted to be a teacher. In high school, a counsellor I had talked to encouraged me to turn to Business, rather than teaching and over the years I felt this was probably a mistake for me. I truly believe I was to be a teacher, like two of my brothers. Instead, I continued in a different line of work, but once I had children, I felt the ‘teacher’ in me come alive. I always said if I ever lost my job I would go back to school and become a teacher, but this is becoming less likely every day. So I continue trying, like my brother, to change one person (well, two actually) or open their eyes to something new, something they can be proud of, every day of my life and I’ve realized that I am a teacher of sorts, even though it’s not my occupation. And I love it too!

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