I’ve been tutoring foreign students, again, going five months now and everyday is always a new experience for me. Each day I’m given a new student by the organization I work for. I have about three or four regular students who I meet with once a week and one student who I meet three times a week when she feels like it, otherwise, she is also a regular once a week student.
My spiel for my new students start out as “I used to teach in college which I did for 11 years, and I’ve been teaching English as a Second Language for three years now.” So, all told, I’ve been teaching 14 solid years out of my 31 years of professional life. The remaining 17 would include working as a trainer (which is still teaching basically), a bank officer, a secretary, transciptionist, abstractor and data entry worker.
I pondered on my teaching as a tutee recently asked me why I was doing this. Without hesitation, I answered, “because it is rewarding.” And, since her English vocabulary is limited, of course she asked what it meant. I simply said that “When you get to make a correct sentence in English, then I know I did a good job teaching you.” And I got a sincere thank you from her.
This is what I have considered as my reward — my objective of witnessing my students apply what I have taught them.
When I was in the academe, I saw my “bitchy” students become kind-hearted and “socially concerned.” I saw my seminarian students become impartial politically and be more conscientious about what they say to other people when they do their cathecetical work. True, of the hundreds I have handled, only two or three come back to me a year or so after they have graduated and tell me that I have been instrumental in what they have achieved.
The learning process is a two-way street by the way. I learned to be more lenient in the standards that I follow. I allowed myself to make mistakes, to laugh at my mistakes and allow myself to grow from these.
My teaching competencies were not only from the higher education units I have taken, conferences, seminars attended or from the faculty development meetings. A lot came from peer observation and mostly experiential – a practical application of theories.
But, of course, values like patience and empathy, kindness and tact are also important in teaching. Being humble and sincere are also essential traits. This is the acceptance that you are not the expert in the field that you are teaching but still striving to be one; and, that you are knowledgeable about the field of course, thus, you are competent to be imparting knowledge about it.
Through teaching I have been exposed to different cultures. I have come to learn about Vietnamese, Laotians, Cambodians. Seven years ago, I came to know how Koreans are like. Now, I am getting to learn that the Japanese are not that inscrutable and are really the polite people I learned them to be when I was in the grades.
So, this is teaching for me. It may not be financially rewarding but it definitely is REWARDING in other aspects.