My new (school) year resolutions

Posted on September 19, 2012 by

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I have changed schools this year. I preface this only because it means I will be given a clean start with new students. The school I first arrived at in January was full of eager pupils, excited to learn English from a man of mystery and American clothes. It was though, my first experience teaching children, and while there is a great chance that my methods were far from perfect, I have gathered some ideas that I hope will allow me to be much more effective this coming term. So, please read on for my list of mantras:

–       I will use more discipline: Each day I went to school wide-eyed and excited to work with Georgian village children. Each day I was met at the door by a star-struck few who cherished learning and who excelled in my classes. And each day, generally, I witnessed blatant rule-violations in our classrooms by the ‘kids in the back’, who chose to copy homework, speak out of turn, or use their mobile phones for who knows what purpose. This was unacceptable, but as I was so fresh, I only made meager attempts to quell this insubordination. I gave rewards freely and fairly during my lessons; I hope that in this term I can be effective on both ends of the spectrum.

–       I will be Mr. Sid: I made somewhat of an attempt in the beginning to garner respect from the students, by requesting that they call me Mr. Sid (only in the classroom). This plan succeeded for a while, but slipped eventually, as I became closer friends with my pupils outside of class. I do, though, want to be treated as an equal teacher in the school, and I’m certain that my effectiveness as an educator was and will be directly related to their perception of me. This might sound like a fight for the sake of vanity, but I do strongly believe that even something as small as a title of respect will bring a greater power to educate.

–       I will try to empathize/I will be more patient: Occasionally, as my fifth class of the day began with a meager show of hands displaying who decided to complete the homework, I found myself wondering why this was. Why couldn’t my students work harder? Why didn’t they care more? But realization often came soon thereafter – their lives are something that I will never comprehend. My own host brothers were required to balance their studies with their work at home: tending to the garden, leading the cows, sawing logs for a new home to be built, picking cherries from the highest reaches of the trees. Some students were forced to miss school during the spring, as they were needed at home to assist. Parents understood that first came feeding the family; studies came when no one was hungry. In this coming term, while I can only hope for perfect attendance and a complete show of hands for completion, I will try to better understand these variables that too often come about.

–       I will care about every day: As a volunteer with TLG, I am lucky. It is an organization that allows me to come across the world to Georgia and participate in a program that will hopefully one day be a citable reason for the prosperity of the country. I have been brought in with a family, who treats me as a long-lost son. The community respects me, and showers me with affection (sometimes with words, sometimes with cha-cha). But, on a handful of days in the last term, maybe because of the rain, maybe the heat, maybe even the three feet (or more!) of snow, I found myself entering the school, longing for the last class to end so I could retreat to my quarters and remove myself for a period. Longing for a new day to begin. So I wish, and resolve, to remind myself each day that this time will not be forever, that this is both a choice and a gift, and that each day should be seen as just another time to work harder, enjoy more, and reminisce upon as the days turn.

I am looking forward to the first day of school. I am looking forward to beginning again.

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