Prior to Honduras, I was a university student bored of homework and studying. As such — like many others have — I elected to take a break from university to seek out a ‘life-changing endeavor’ that could better prepare me for my following academic years. Seeing an opportunity to teach in Honduras, I thought ‘what could possibly be better?’. Teaching doesn’t sound too crazy; I can develop skills in leadership, establish a solid work-ethic and hopefully come to better understand the realities of human beings like us in less fortunate conditions. It all sounds great on paper: flawless, even. I worked at Subway, and did a lot of work in landscaping to save money for my imminent year volunteering. I even earned a certification for Teaching English as a Second Language online during the summer. This was going to be the smoothest year of my life, yet.
I’ve been a teacher for 2 months, and boy was I naïve to think any aspect of teaching would be easy.
My first month in the classroom was probably the most challenging month of my life. I didn’t at all understand how to properly discipline my class of 3rd graders, and I would spend over an hour on a single day’s lesson only to scrap it at the first sight of being ineffective (stupid habit). After a while, having graded a decent amount of classwork and tests, I was frustrated with nobody but myself. I saw brilliant kids with bad grades, and I knew it was nobody’s fault but my own. The most challenging thing I’ve ever had to do is accept how bad of a teacher I am in many areas, and work twice as hard in those areas to understand proper pedagogy of the English language. This is by far the most important job I’ve ever held in my short 19-year-old life, and I wasn’t treating it with the urgency it deserved.
I’ve done a lot to improve as a teacher: countless hours online looking for teaching strategies and activities, tutoring every day, and over all I’ve begun using my teacher-friend resources both here and in the U.S. I found that teachers love helping teachers, and I was stupidly refraining from asking for help under the impression I would grow as a more original teacher. Fortunately, that’s not how it works.
Every week I come significantly closer to becoming the great teacher I want to be. However, traveling a mile means little when circumnavigating the world. Here in Honduras, providing my kids with a great education IS my world. It’s also a hell of a lot bigger than whatever planet you’re from. Every day it can be something little like smoothing out the kinks in classroom activities, finding a few good activities online, or better understanding how to express information without using an 8-year-old’s native language.
With teaching to resume this week, I’m both incredibly excited, and nervous. I’m excited to continue teaching, as I know I have improved significantly from the teacher I was 2 months ago. I’m nervous because I know there’s no such thing as a perfect teacher. As such, I know I can expect to continue having difficulties I may not figure out how to overcome. In the beginning I was a naïve, unprepared college student thinking he could rule the classroom with an educated thumb. Now, I’m a slightly less clueless teacher with a motivation like no other to make a mark on my students.
I absolutely cannot say this has been the smoothest time of my life. However, one fifth of a way through my 10 month stay, I know this has already been by far the most life-changing.
- Noah, 3rd Grade Teacher