A TEFL Confession

5 Jun

Rarely have I pictured myself teaching.  To clarify, you could count the occasions I’ve imagined such a thing on one hand – with fingers to spare.  As someone who never wants children of their own, I took for granted that this meant under no circumstances would a job working with children appeal to me.  (By children, I even include college age individuals with a vivid lack of maturity.)

I wasn’t being entirely honest with myself.  I allowed myself to conveniently ignore the years teaching swim lessons (it was just another summer job, after all), babysitting (the occasions were rare, and I barely survived), and lifeguarding (saving their lives does NOT mean I have to like them).  After my first weekend of TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) training, I can see I was wrong.

Will I come back from Peace Corps service determined to launch into a career in teaching?  Doubtful.  Strike that — impossible.  I am, however, starting to fully appreciate the opportunities I’ll have within my own classroom in Ukraine.  From the day I turned in my application, I knew the Peace Corps could offer me “a lot.”  But what could I possibly offer a country – a classroom of young students – as I flounder in the basics of their language?  I thought I was being realistic and modest by reminding myself that the learning I would witness over the approaching two years would be entirely my own.

I’m starting to think maybe, just maybe, that could be a two-way street.

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One Response to “A TEFL Confession”

  1. Ann O 12 June, 2009 at 06:36 #

    Linnea, It will be interesting to hear your reflections after teaching children. First, I am often amazed at what I learn from the children that I “teach.” Even though many of my clients have disabilities of some sort, their insights, freshness, honesty, and view of the world is often amazing-and delightful-and entertaining-and provocative! They come to see me to learn—and I’d like to think I am able to help them learn—but I also learn so much from each of them. Keep your eyes (and mind) wide open—I am not going to tell you that you’ll come back wanting to teach or to have your own children, but I think you’ll be surprised at how your thinking is going to be changed. How exciting—I am thrilled that you are going to have this opportunity.
    Ann Osterling-Dampier

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