I think I’ll stay.

It’s like that reoccurring nightmare that everybody has after leaving primary school: you’re standing in front of the class, but you forgot your pants. Teaching English to first graders feels a bit like this, but instead of pants, you’ve forgotten your sanity. 32 pairs of eyes stare up at you like you’ve lost your mind. You’re babbling on and on about sharing and listening, about the water cycle and prepositions of place…

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You don’t notice the progress at first. “There’s no way that I am making a difference,” you start to think. “I’m too small, and the mountain is too high. There’s just no way.” But then it starts happening: a boy sprints up from the far corner of the classroom, weaving through floral-printed backpacks and deftly dodging his own untied shoelaces, and shouts “Miss! I am…sick!” You’re suddenly comforting said student, ignoring the fact that today’s lunch has just made an encore outside the classroom by thinking about the ginormous, immense amount of pride you feel for his use of English in a moment of such pure panic.

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last day first grade

Later on, another student comes up to you holding a pack of cookies and calmly asks “Open please,” fistful of Oreo wrapper crinkling. You open the cookies for your tiny English geniuses. And maybe, if you’re lucky, the tiny geniuses decide to share.

The girls are doing cartwheels and perfecting their skips, desperately pleading for a photo shoot. “Miss, please! One more photo! One more!” When you scroll through the endless photos you’ve taken, the little gymnasts peering over your shoulders declare triumphantly, “Very good, Miss.” And you definitely feel just that: very, very, good.

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The more we learn together, the closer we become. The more words we can use, the more things we can talk about – from robots to unicorns, from Paw Patrol to Peppa Pig. Every raging noise-induced headache is nothing compared to the immense happiness they fill me with every day. I couldn’t be more proud of them for all that they have learned, and couldn’t be more grateful for all they have taught me.

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“Ser maestra es cuando te das cuenta de que toda la vida serás estudiante.”

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