There are so many things I could write about when it comes to my time in Honduras as it comes to an end. I’m trying to think of what I wish I could tell my past-self to prepare for my year at CBS.
Here are three tips I think every scared incoming teacher should know. Being a teacher ‘ain’t’ easy, but it’s incredibly worth the struggle for the sake of creating a better world, and a better you.
The learning curve for an unexperienced teacher was brutal. Before arriving I earned a 120-hour TEFL certification online, and I thought I had a good idea of what I’d be doing in-class for the next ten months. The value of hands-on learning for teachers, however, is insurmountable. Please be ready to accept change to your classroom on a daily basis. You will constantly be making discoveries (especially in your first month) about how different modes of discipline work, how your students react to different things, and which activities succeed or fail. You will undoubtedly find yourself on google every day looking for tips and resources (our newly-implemented Cambridge and Trinity recommendations will work wonders in this way) and by the end of the first month you’ll probably be a completely different teacher. Open mindedness is never a bad trait. As a teacher, it can be a life-saver.
VOLUNTEER-TIP®: Meditating for 20 minutes some days helped me astronomically in taking a step back to develop a plan to continue. Any day you feel overworked, just relax anywhere you want, and repeat a mantra pertaining to your struggle. Perhaps, “[This] will not defeat me.” or “I am totally awesome for being here.” could work.
Lesson planning for the first month or so (and still after a year to an extent) was very difficult. I consider myself a fairly self-conscious teacher who’s rather sensitive to how effective my lessons can be. When you’re overly-sensitive to how effective a lesson is, you start to become dismissive of every suggestion you hear or read. Japan, one of the most educations countries in the world (usatoday.com) has an educational system revolving around lectures and book work. Not exactly the most compelling classrooms, but students end up learning nonetheless. My point is, no lesson is a bad lesson, unless someone dies. If I was capable of understanding “tough love” in the classroom, I would have been so much more comfortable making lesson plans simply because it leaves you with more options when you’re comfortable being a little boring, at times, for the sake of education. The children are the ones who primarily should work while in class, not you. You only facilitate.
VOLUNTEER-TIP®: From my experience, the moment you put your image in front of the source material is when you stop being a teacher. Moans and grunts of displeasure upon learning the assignment WILL BE DAILY occurrences no matter what you do. Instead of thinking how it can be more fun, think of how it can be more educational (which doesn’t always entail ‘fun’). That’s vague, I know, but you got this.
Patience in the classroom will be tested every day, and it can often times seem unbearable. Think back to your own primary school days. Can you remember an instance in which a teacher went bonkers, and raised their voice loud enough to hear it tomorrow morning? Chances are you can remember at least one, and probably multiple times you’ve seen it. Understanding that it happens doesn’t make it acceptable, but it’s important to understand you’ll be tested and tried in the same way those teachers were.
VOLUNTEER-TIP®: When all patience seems lost, grab a flashlight and look for said patience under desks and bookshelves. No, seriously. Do that. You’ll probably have to teach your kids the word patience at the beginning of the year, but this is a much better alternative way of showing your kids they’re getting on your nerves a little too much. When you find your patience, don’t forget to tell your kids that is you lose your patience again, you may go CrAzY and give everybody detention next time.
In conclusion, it’s a no-brainer that being a teacher isn’t easy. I would tell my parents before coming that “I expect Honduras to be the hardest year of my life.” but I didn’t really understand how or why or when or for how long or… It was hard. It’s okay to not be okay, but remember it’s not okay to fight in the dark. The people here (like Ms. Dana) will help you in any way you need to dropkick your problem. Teachers love helping teachers.
Still, though, you got this. If I can do it (which I was astonished I could) then you can, too.
Mr Noah, 3rd Grade Teacher.