I Am Teacher

Teachers of the world…you have my undying respect and admiration.

I’ve been in front of kids before, but not in a formal position to instruct. And while I am still enjoying it immensely after my second week, each minute can present a new challenge.

My last week with GC had many ups and a few downs – I’m starting to understand how to best engage him and we get further along every day.  But just when I think I’ve got him excited to learn English and when I am so pleased that he is showing off some new words, in the next minute he can just as easily pronounce to me:

“Estoy aburrido.” I am bored. At that point I know I’ve lost him, and I scramble to spice up the activity before us.

He came to my aid at one point last week, after making said announcement of boredom.  He picked up the erasable marker and approached the white board himself, in what became one of my favourite lessons since we’ve started working together.

“Estoy teacher,” he said.

I corrected him: “Say, I am the teacher, GC.”

“I am teacher,” he replied. I started to correct him one more time and his hand flew up to his mouth and he pressed his index finger against his tightly pursed lips.

“Shhh!” he said with deadpan seriousness.  I shhh’ed, but not after letting a small bit of laughter escape.

GC did not look pleased. “One minute,” he pronounced, extending his arm so that his index finger was nearly touching my nose, figuratively instructing me to be silent and patient.

He turned his back to me and began drawing numbers on the board, referencing our addition exercise we worked on before lunch. I sat silently while he muttered to himself and wrote with fierce concentration.

Any time I rose to try and help him, he would emphatically express the English saying he probably most often gets from his other teachers: “Sit down.” At one point he had even picked up a long ruler from the corner of the room and pointed me back to my chair with it.

I sat. This eight year old boy, with barely 100 English words in his repertoire, had put me in my place.  I could no longer hold my laughter in.

I got shhh’ed again.  This kid is tough.

I gave in and let him instruct me on the simple math equations. He was doing most of it in English, so for as long as I could, I happily ignored my planned activity and encouraged this reversed lesson. He practiced pronouncing his English numbers, completed some tough addition, and finally gave me a chance to stand up and do some equations he had left for me. I hummed and hawed over the easy answers, and he seemed overjoyed with the thought that he actually might have stumped me.

He ended the lesson by holding his hand up in the air and offering me a “high five” in perfect English, just like I do with him after every accomplishment.   I took my reward.

GC has earned my respect too, as my teacher.  I’m learning from him every day.

16 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • February 7 2011

    Oh, GC sounds like a trip. You captured a nice piece of being a teacher. 🙂

    I used to have my kids (middle-schoolers) act as teacher every now and then. The perfect imitations of me were sometimes a little frightening. Cute, but–do I really sound like that?
    Megan recently posted..Challenge- The Return of the Cockroach

    • Dalene
      February 7 2011

      Hi Megan, thanks for reading and your comment. It’s funny how the kids can see us. I think it’s great that you let them act as teacher. Who knows, it might even give them passion to become one 😉 I will certainly let GC try again, that’s for sure. Cheers!

  • February 7 2011

    It will be interesting to read how your class and students progress! 🙂

    I’ve never had the opportunity to teach kids, but I did teach a couple college courses in Gender Studies. I imagine the attention span of college students and eight-year-olds is pretty comparable, lol. They keep you on your toes while you’re trying to keep them on their toes! 😛
    Christy @ Technosyncratic recently posted..5 Reasons You Should Learn to Paddleboard

    • Dalene
      February 8 2011

      Thanks Christy. Yes, he is surely trying to keep me on my toes and I am trying to find new ways to keep him on his. Although he always seems to be a step ahead of me 😉 LOL, yes actually the attention span is probably close in comparison..

  • February 8 2011

    Good for you for following your teacher instincts Dade and letting him “go with it”! The brain retains more if we teach, rather than if we are taught.

    But don’t let him know that – he sounds like a rebel! 🙂

    He seems like the kind of kid that likes to have “control” of his own learning (enjoys it more when it’s on his terms). Milk that for all it’s worth!

    Great post!
    Teri recently posted..Thought for Food

    • Dalene
      February 8 2011

      Ohhh…he’s a rebel alright. Yesterday was a real struggle, with fewer “aw, look at how cute he is!” moments – ha! I’ve got my hands full. 🙂

  • February 8 2011

    GC sounds like a challenge, but I love teaching kids like that, I find it makes me a better teacher and you’re always trying to come up with more exciting ways of presenting boring info.
    Laurel recently posted..Fun Things to Do in Bremen

    • Dalene
      February 8 2011

      If you’ve got any tips on making it exciting, feel free to share!! 🙂

      I find that I have him for the first hour or so, but then if I lose his interest for a second, he’s gone for the rest of our time together. He loves word scrambles and word finds, so if I promise he gets to do those at the end of any “lesson”, then he pays close attention. I wonder how long I will have that though, until he gets bored of those…

  • February 8 2011

    I also am a teacher, however I teach students which fall into the not-a-teenager-anymore but not-an-adult-either category. Sometimes I feel really frustrated, especially during exams when I can’t get 2 words out of them, but when I’m at my lowest, a bright mind comes along and gives me a perfect answer, then I think “OK, it’s not me, I’m not a bad teacher”. I do love teaching, however I think I might like working with little kids better – plan for the future – teach English abroad!

    • Dalene
      February 8 2011

      That’s a great plan! Although I have to say that I think adultish people are easier…especially if they are there because they *want* to be. Kids are in school because they have to be, and they sometimes make it well known they would rather be somewhere else! But, as you said, there are those magical little moments when they display something they’ve learned, and all is well in the teaching world again. Thanks for the comment Joseph, and good luck with your travels!

  • February 9 2011

    Estoy teacher. Sounds like my version of Spanish! 🙂

    Love these little stories from your lives. I think it definitely helps give a good visual of the personality behind the keyboard.

    Keep it up!
    Justin Hamlin recently posted..Navigate Focus Live Inspire

    • Dalene
      February 10 2011

      Thanks again Justin! That is definitely my version of Spanish as well!

  • February 10 2011

    Takes me back to my teaching days. Lesson completely planned and me completely convinced of what the class would get out of it – and then you start your lesson and the kids change the whole thing by coming up with answers you would never have thought of. I come out of the lesson learning more than them! 🙂

    • Dalene
      February 10 2011

      It’s those special little moments that keep you going – right? Sometimes I really wonder what I’ve gotten myself into, and then just as quickly I can be so thankful for this experience!

  • April 13 2011

    The best thing about being a teacher is that you can never predict what they are going to come up with next!

    I really enjoyed reading this. Great post!
    Elaine Thatcher recently posted..Chaul Chnam Thmey – Khmer New Year

    • April 14 2011

      Thanks so much Elaine! That is an alluring part of it, to be sure. And entertaining!!

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