It’s been 90 days since my first day of teaching. 90 days of singing, laughing, crying, yelling, and just about every other emotion you can imagine. Teaching has been a lot of things to me over these last 90 days. It’s been a job. A challenge. A reward. An outlet. A pain in the ass. A reason to smile. A germ catcher. An adventure. An avenue to travel. But mostly, it’s been a learning experience.
Like most jobs, you learn a lot in the first three months. You learn the ins and outs, how to take the easy way, how to do it right, how to succeed, how to fail, and mostly, you learn about yourself. You learn if this job is for you. If you have the patience. If you have the energy. Essentially, if you have what it takes to do this…forever.
A question I’ve gotten a lot since moving to Thailand is do I want to be a teacher forever. Up until this point I haven’t really known the answer to that. It’s always been a possibility. A very exciting possibility that I’ve never really wanted to fully close the door on. However, I think I’ve come to peace with the fact that teaching isn’t my calling. While I do love it, I am honestly not sure I can say that I want to be a teacher for the rest of my life. I’m not sure I could find the energy every single morning. I’m not sure I have the passion for it that I thought I might. And without that, how can anyone be expected to do something for the rest of their life?
There are moments, of course, that my students are so dang cute and I wonder how I’m ever supposed to leave them. Here are a few of those moments:
I taught emotions for about two weeks. Every day we would go over the vocab words and would say “I am sad”, “I am angry”, etc. This week we started learning about classroom items. My students now say “I am ruler!”. Not 100% sure how to correct this one so I think maybe I’ll just let it slide.
The other day I was sitting at an assembly and a little girl came up to me and said something in Thai and I smiled, said “cool!” and she walked away. This is a usual exchange that happens (bc ya know, language barrier) so I thought nothing of it. One of the Thai teachers walks over and is hysterically laughing and asks me what the girl said. I said I had no idea. She confers with the girl, comes back a minute later, and informs me that the girl said “I look SO sick”. My que to start wearing makeup, ladies and gentlemen.
Last weekend I spent the weekend at the beach and, I’ll admit, got a little bit too much sun. However, thanks to my new friend mentioned above, I put on a little makeup and the redness was barely noticeable…or so I thought. Walk into my first class on Monday, and am greeted by most of my students pointing at my face saying, “teacher, teacher, red!!!!” while shaking their heads at me. I’m being condemned for not wearing sunscreen by four year olds.
Being that Phangnga is a small town, I see my students outside of school at least once a day. Sometimes at the Big C, sometimes at 7 Eleven, sometimes pulling over on the side of the road just to honk at me and say hi. A couple of nights ago I went to get some groceries and ran into one of my students. She proceeded to help me with the rest of my journey through the supermarket, being sure that I got plenty of apples and bananas. Guess I’ll make a separate trip for wine tomorrow.
It’s little moments like these that remind me why I do love teaching. Sounds weird that students telling me to wear makeup and sunscreen is somehow rewarding to me, but it is. It reminds me how little these kids are. How much they still have left to learn and how much they have already learned in the 90 days I’ve been with them. Being that I can’t seem to make up my mind about anything these days, I could very well change my mind on the whole teaching thing, so I’ll keep y’all posted. Happy February everyone!