a blog for teachers who follow the Master Teacher
This is not my first year teaching. It is also not my last. The age levels change. The language levels change. The reasons for being in the class change. The motivation levels change. What remains consistent is the reality that I stand in front of a group of students who deserve the best that I can bring to them on a daily basis. This also means that the best that I have prepared may not be the best that they need at the moment. What has changed for me is my response to that need.
Here is the back story. I have taken on a new teaching assignment. TEFL courses for expats in China who need a little extra certification for their visa requirements. In any given course, I may have a few veteran teachers, a few with teacher training, and then many wide eyed young people, the ink barely dry on their diplomas, looking for a unique experience. How do I meet the needs of such a diverse group? (And you thought the variety of levels in your class was an interesting challenge.)
This particular group had a couple of young people who came with quality training and experience, but their employer wanted them to jump through one more hoop to ensure they met all the requirements for their work permits. One student felt rather comfortable with giving me unsolicited feedback on the content of the course on a daily basis. Now, there was a voice in my head that wondered at the audacity of this young man telling me how to improve my teaching as well as a second voice that advised I listen and consider what I might adjust to improve this learning experience for the students.
In this season of teaching, I stand in front of groups of expats who have landed on the shores of China for a short while or for extended service. I am here to be Salt and Light. Only to the locals? Or to all? Which voice would the Master Teacher advise me to listen to? With a sigh, I swallowed my pride and listened to what my students were asking from me.
While I could not go back and change the activities already completed, I did find myself reviewing the lessons for the next day and considering how I could bring in more meaningful learning activities for the next day’s sessions. In reviewing and preparing for the next course, I found myself considering how to better design each session the next time.
What is the lesson learned for me, even after years of teaching? There is always room for improvement and sometimes the suggestions for improvement come from students. A lesson I would have liked my new teacher self to have learned much earlier in my career, but I am thankful to have been able to learn it now.
The Master Teacher asks us always to bring our best to our students. Maybe our best needs a bit of improving.
Heather Petersen first came to China to teach in 1989 until her return to California in 1991. China is where she discovered she truly is a teacher. In 2013, she returned to China after teaching middle and high school students in California in the USA. Recently, she has found herself in Beijing leading teacher training courses instead of standing in front of university students. For her, teaching is a never-ending adventure.