This happened today. Okay, it wasn’t my birthday, and my outfit was a little more casual than that of the woman pictured here. But I showed up to class today, and my name was written all over the board, accompanied by hearts and a huge “Good Morning,” and my students were all standing in a corner, looking sheepish and grinning.
They are all so cute.
Three days of teaching, and I’m beginning to feel like I know what I’m doing. I wish I had had this level of competence last year. This year I am uninhibited by the feelings of utter inadequacy that hindered me last year. Now I feel free to pay attention to what each student needs.
And they all have different needs. For some, they just need help with pronunciation. Others need help knowing what the words are. Others just need help forming sentences. No one knows everything, but everyone knows something. What’s delightful is watching them help each other.
This class isn’t intended to be serious. It’s not school. These kids came to learn how to speak English from native English speakers, and they’re taking time during their summer holiday to do so. Learning to speak a language should be fun. There should be no fear of making mistakes, because making mistakes is how they’re going to learn. And I think this group knows that now. I’m no expert when it comes to teaching—I’ve told people for years that I could never be a teacher on a permanent basis—but I can tell that these kids want to learn. Mistakes happen, but we laugh through it together. No one makes fun of anyone else for not knowing as much as he or she does. Instead, the stronger speakers help the not-so-strong, and the not-so-strong don’t get embarrassed (at least not much) when they say something incorrectly.
I am teaching some brilliant kids. They are brilliant, kind, caring, and hardworking kids. I love them to death. And I hope, more than I hope for anything else, that they will see how God loves them so much more than I ever could. How He loved them enough to die for them.
If I can’t teach them that, then I’ve taught them nothing at all.