Monday, September 6, 2010
Teaching makes a difference
This is my favorite class. The first time I met them they all stood up and recited a poem for me. And then they handed me flowers. They are so excited to learn English, and I am going to do my best to keep them interested and show them how fun it can be in the next two years. I really feel that I have the ability to change their lives, to show them how English can open doors for them to have better lives. Especially the boys.
When boys are finished with school they must go into the army for two years. After that they usually go to Russia where they do manual labor. They consider education for women, who will most likely become teachers. The older boys that I have in my class who are smart are often teased for it. It’s hard to know how to encourage them without making them a target for the rest of the class. I think if I start teaching them at a young age all the opportunities they will have by knowing English, then maybe I can encourage them to learn.
The older classes are much more difficult. The education range varies to such a strong degree. In my tenth grade class I have kids who can write sentences and answer my questions in English and then kids who do not even know the alphabet. I told my school director today that I will offer all my students private tutoring if they are behind. She was shocked. I am expected to start clubs for the good students, and to dedicate my time to them. She couldn’t see why I would want to waste my time on the students who in her opinion can’t learn. For the most part these students are passed on year by year because the teachers don’t know how teach them, and therefore do not want to deal with them any longer, so they are given passing grades and skate on by. The biggest part of my job is not to teach children English, it’s to teach teachers how to teach. If I teach them how to be better teachers, it is sustainable change that can really make a difference for many. If they see by my example that even the bad kids can learn if they are given attention and time, then maybe they will change their methodologies which will help many future students to come.
These first few days of teaching have been such a positive experience for me. I have found that I actually really love to teach, and for the most part it comes natural to me. I have a patience for it, that I do not have in other parts of my life. I am honestly thrilled when a student gets an answer correct, or asks a smart question. I love being the antithesis to the Armenian teacher, always with a smile on my face that lets them know its ok to make mistakes. I have so many ideas on how to make school more exciting for them, and to get them interested in learning.
Already me being an American has drawn them in. They tell their other teachers how excited they are for their English lessons. The English students that don’t have me as a teacher, but instead have another English teacher complain that it is not fair and that they want to be in my class. When I walk in the halls from class to class groups of little girls follow me, waiting to show me that they know how to greet me in English. I am something new and exciting to them which gives me an advantage. I have their attention, now I just need to use my creativity to keep it and use it to teach them. I pray every day that I am up to my task. This is where Peace Corps decided I am most needed, and more than anything I want to do the best that I can and make a difference.