One of my Grade Four elementary school pupils asked me to check her debate notes on the merits of mobile phone technology and its impact on business and wider societal issues. I have a feeling the lesson on ‘Let’s play soccer’ wasn’t particularly challenging for her.
For two nights in a row now I’ve been taken out for dinner by my students as my job teaching English in Italy draws to a close. Both nights I’ve tried to offer up some money but was told to put my euros away. And last night I was given a present to thank me for the lessons. It’s a genuine surprise and a wonderful feeling knowing I’ve had a positive influence on learners especially as these lessons have been a constant source of stress and anxiety. I would admit to being hyper-critical of my teaching standards at times, perhaps unfairly so; this is for others to judge. But I guess the students appreciated my efforts. I can’t claim this ‘success’ was down to any inspired methodology. Perhaps real success lies in the teacher’s passion for the subject and their ability to impart this passion, the lessons being small windows through which to let this passion shine. I guess after passion, everything else follows.
About a year ago I decided to leave journalism in the UK and become an English teacher working abroad. It was a distant dream; I had a hefty bank loan to pay off first and then would have to retrain. The dream was a dot on the horizon. This morning there was an email waiting for me… EPIK had offered me a job at a public school in Seoul beginning in August. I can’t quite believe that in a year I have cleared my debt and have been offered a fantastic job in a tantalisingly exciting city across the other side of the world. Today is a good day, a day for dreamers. A day for new dreams and new horizons.
Is there any better feeling for a teacher to be told by a student that your lesson was inspiring? For someone like me, who is inclined to regard every lesson I do as below average for some reason or another, today was a good day.
Sometimes, being an English teacher is like staring out over a vast ocean of knowledge you’ve yet to even wet the tips of your fingers in; daunting, all-consuming. I feel like perhaps a sailor would faced with some boundless, unconquered sea. No, perhaps more like the helpless flotsam being sucked helplessly into a thunderous, incomprehensible whirlpool. Perhaps that. Yet, we must push off from the shore and aim for the sunset, and what lies beyond.
EPIK have my documents. Thankfully they didn’t end up floating in the ocean somewhere, as I had feared. They somehow crossed continents and landed safely in South Korean hands. I now wait for an offer, if one is forthcoming - which I’m pretty confident it should be. I’ve applied to SMOE for a teaching job in Seoul so now I wait and hope that this dream will be realised. If it’s not Seoul then that’s life I suppose. But, I really hope it’s Seoul… we’ll see. I await the email…
Okay, so after passing my EPIK English teaching interview I’ve now posted all my documents off to South Korea; documents carefully collected and painstakingly prepared over many, many months. My future is at the mercy of international mail! I checked and re-checked them so many times before finally summoning up the courage to go to the post office that I actually forgot what the hell I was doing and had to sit quietly in the corner while I regained some sort of cognitive awareness. This is the hardest job application process I have ever been through, but the rewards are great. Bon voyage!
Some good news came floating into my inbox this morning; I’ve passed my interview with EPIK for a public school English teaching position in South Korea. Emotions at the moment: excited/scared/elated, most of them seem to come crashing against my shore at once in an all-consuming tsunami. I’m looking forward to what should be an incredible journey and wishing everyone else who is also waiting for their EPIK interview results the best of luck. Maybe see you there…