The Complexity of Teaching

It’s 12:00 on a Monday and I’ve got that familiar feeling of excitement coursing through my blood. It’s a feeling that I have only experienced consistently in my life while operating a classroom. After three days off, I was happy to get back into the swing of things this morning; I always am. For one hour, four days a week, I get to head a classroom of knowledge-hungry students and I couldn’t find the work more rewarding.

At this time each day, I find myself pumped to be alive, happy about what has just been accomplished and charged for what is to come in the remainder of the day. Even if the rest of my day is mapped out to be relatively mediocre, there’s a magic that comes with being able to teach in the morning. Teaching English to beginners is not a complex thing at first glance, but then again, it may just be the most complex thing.

For example, this morning, I spent the entire hour I had with my students teaching them how to properly use three words: on, at, and in. These are three tiny words that seem like they would be relatively insignificant, but then you stare at them for an hour while trying to convey their meaning to a bunch of non-English speakers and you realize how complex even the smallest of words are.

The fun thing about teaching though, is that even when the students stare at you as if you are an alien, you can come back around and re-explain what you’ve just said in ten different ways. After an hour, it was nice to see the majority of students beginning to understand that we have class ON Monday and AT 10:30. Looking at this from a new perspective, it is a little odd that we “do” things IN a month and ON a day. These are prime example of things that stump my students, leaving them asking me to explain something further, and all I can do is shrug my shoulders and say, “sometimes English is just…funny.”

I see it in their eyes, when they laugh at my dumb jokes, they’re relaxing because they know to be in class ON Thursday AT 10:30 IN the month of March. They get it.

They’re getting it. 

I took the opportunity to emphasize at the end of class that even just adding these three little words to their vocabulary really increases the quality of their English. By mastering these three words, they go from, “my birthday is March,” to “my birthday is in March.” Both make sense, but one makes them sound like they’re circling mastery.

I’m so thankful this is my job right now.


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