A Month in the Life of Mr. Teacher
As a relatively fresh graduate from the University of Helsinki, I was fortunate enough to be able to secure a job in my chosen career relatively quickly. This fall, I’ve started teaching English as a Home Language in various schools throughout the Helsinki area. I’ve also recently begun doing extra hours as a resource teacher in an elementary school. It’s been a hectic month or so but it’s been an enlightening experience and some of the most fulfilling work I’ve yet to do. I’ve done a bit of teaching before but this appears to be the first real step I’m taking in my own career. I have to let that sink in for a bit… I’ve got a career. Or at least the beginning of one.
Hear that? Yes, kids, it’s possible to actually get a career. Yes, kids, there IS life after uni. And yes, kids, you’re probably going to feel like you’re in way over your head. But remember: everybody starts somewhere. It’s a learning process. Here, for your entertainment, are a few things I’ve learned so far:
- Some of the more troublesome students can turn into some of the hardest working students the next moment. And vice-versa…
- You can never have enough photocopies.
- I got way too excited about getting to read some of my own childhood favorites to the students. It’s such a surreal experience.
- Just be prepared for the fact that 90% of kids won’t react to the stories the same way you did.
- You can also count watching childhood favorite films like An American Tail as part of your job.
- The one day that I have to bend over to pick something up off the floor and a kid sees my underwear poking out, is the one day that I happened to wear pink underwear. FML.
- I’ve learned what it’s like to watch the same youtube clip every day of the week. Outside of my personal life, I mean.
- I learned about nandus through LeVar Burton reading Nina Nandu’s Nervous Nogging on Reading Rainbow.
- I finally understand the joke in season 2 of Community when Troy freaks out about meeting LeVar Burton.
- I also understand Troy freaking out. LeVar Burton is so freaking charming.
- The little surprises are some of the best. For example, when I showed the Reading Rainbow clip to my fifth and final group, one student pointed out that there’s a lot of words beginning with “n” in the story. I hadn’t expected any of my students to actually point that out.
- Cell phones… Am I right??
OK, as much as I’m tempted to leave it there, I have to share one more anecdote. Just this past week, after I had let my class go and they had all filed out of the room, one student walked back in. He started walking towards me so I prepared to ask him what was up when he suddenly stretched his arms out to give me a hug. I can’t begin to tell you how much that moment meant to me. It was the most powerful praise I have ever gotten and made up for every frustrating or infuriating moment I might have experienced up to this point. Best of all, it confirmed for me that this isn’t just my career now. It’s my life.