Teach English in Suchen Zhen - Taizhou Shi

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Teaching is one of the oldest and most honorable professions in history. Whether they worked in a formal setting or not, teachers have been responsible for passing down the knowledge that mankind has amassed since the beginning of civilization, mentoring and shaping the generations that followed their own. For those who realize this, and eagerly accept the responsibilities that being a teacher entails, few paths in life could prove to be more rewarding. However, when charged with such an important task, one has to consider exactly what part they will play in their students' lives. I believe it is a teacher's duty to look beyond course curriculum, thinking of it as the bare minimum of all there is to impart to their class. Perhaps it is the naivety of inexperience, but my goal for myself as a teacher is ensuring that my students leave my class having not only learned the English material that I set out to teach, but also having gained a lust for knowledge, and the confidence in their potential to learn anything. A teacher's role, to me, is that of the motivator and the mentor. At the end of the day, no matter how well a course book is written, how many crosswords or word searches you devise on your own, and no matter how much money a student has spent on attending class, the motivation to learn is what determines success. While motivation is in large part the student's personal responsibility, I do believe that teachers are also accountable for fostering and helping to maintain it. It is too easy for a student to begin a class with high hopes and a genuine desire to learn only to come away from it, or worse, get halfway through it, and find themselves feeling burnt out and no longer caring how well they do as long as they pass. I have personally felt this in my own language learning experience when learning Korean. Some of the biggest factors of being a motivating teacher rather than a discouraging one are in the lesson plans themselves. Nobody wants to be talked at about grammar for hours on end, especially in a language that they don't fully understand. It is vitally important to include activities that make the lesson materials feel "real" and important! While obviously the level of the students' English can present obstacles, it can be extremely motivating for students to learn how to have discussions about things that matter to them personally. A teacher can elicit so much more effort and excitement from a student who is talking about why they love something or someone, rather than stopping at the bare minimum "How much does this cost?" type of practice. Finally, I wholeheartedly believe that one of the easiest things a teacher can do to motivate their students is to simply take the time to acknowledge their growth. Few things will burn them out more than to feel happy that they are making progress, only to have their teacher belittle it. Teachers should be excited for their students' accomplishments, and being forthcoming about that excitement can go a long way towards keeping them confident and hungry for more. While being motivational and engaging is absolutely crucial to being a good teacher, it is also necessary to step back at times and take a practical approach to problems that will undoubtedly arise. The hard times are where the role of "mentor" comes into play. At the heart of the mentor role is a thorough understanding of the material that they are in charge of teaching, as well as the knowledge about each individual student's needs, habits, strengths and weaknesses that the teacher gains over time. A mentor must be approachable, therefore going hand in hand with the role of motivator, and must also be ready and able to help students come up with practical solutions to whatever problems they may face. A teacher should be ever evolving, much like the world as a whole. As time passes and more they become more experienced, a teacher should strive to continuously learn and hone their craft. A teacher is not, and never will be, perfect. In that way they are just like everyone else, but just like they should motivate their students to always try their best in spite of that fact, they must also remind themselves to do the same. Teaching is a noble profession. In today's world we often see examples in the news, or perhaps in the stories of those close to us, of how thankless it can be. However, I am choosing to believe that the reward far outweighs the risk, and that teachers really can make a world of difference in the lives of their students. As a teacher, I believe my role is to encourage my students to start a fire in their hearts. Whatever they are passionate about, whatever is important to them, I want them to feel like they have the power to accomplish their goals. I intend to work hard to have a positive impact on my students' lives and help them to find a lasting desire to keep learning for their entire lifetime.