On being a teacher

IMG_1306I’ve been a mentor, a tutor, a camp counselor and an after school education leader, but I’ve never really been a teacher.

Now I’ve heard lots of stories about how the first year of teaching is ridiculously difficult. The Internet tells me that most teachers don’t last longer than 5 years. It’s a tough job without immediate satisfaction; your impact on your students may not be apparent for years to come. And yet, here I am, living in a complicated, often contradictory developing country, and trying my hand at this teaching thing.

Fake it ‘til you make it, right?

I was sitting in my class today watching my students play a game of hot potato (we’re working on letter sounds, I swear!), when I realized that I was having as much fun as they were.

My teaching philosophy, formed with help from my Peace Corps trainers, as well as my most memorable teachers, has quickly evolved such that my goal is for my class to be enjoyable. On the first day, I asked my students to help create the class rules. In nearly all of my groups, at least one student said, “No playing!!” and every one of them looked at me with wide, questioning eyes when I let them know that we would in fact be playing nearly every day.

I’ve made it a goal to show my students that learning can be enjoyable. And so I craft, I play, I make a fool of myself and I make silly noises, I level with them and I discipline without threats. I’m still learning so much every day, but I’m mostly having fun doing it. And I guess that’s what this is all about.

Then again, I’m a first year teacher. I am a Peace Corps Volunteer. This post was written in an emotional upswing, and I realize that it’s full of idealism and perhaps naivety, which are two things I’ve been frequently criticized for.

Foolish as I may be, I believe that we are capable of thinking our desires into reality. That, maybe, the more I tell myself “I am having fun” and “I am good at this,” the more fun I will have and the better I will be at it. I’m not saying it’s that easy, but I do know that this mindset is certainly helping me.

Now please enjoy these pictures of my classroom. It’s little, it’s got a long way to go, but it’s mine! Check out the whiteboard I made out of cardboard and clear tape hehe.


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