Yesterday Sophia asked me, "Do you ever have regrets that you went to college for education?" My immediate response was, "No." She went on, "You never wish you had done something else or wondered about what another job would be like?" Again my answer was "No."
When I set out for college at 18 years old I knew I wanted to be an elementary teacher. I totally absorbed myself in my education classes and couldn't wait to have a classroom of my own. For five years I taught fifth grade full time and then for two years I taught part time (Alexander was born and Steve and I had opposite schedules so one of us could be with him) in elementary and middle school teaching ESL. I loved it. Everyday was different.
I took a break from teaching when Sophia was born and we moved from Kansas to Illinois. For the last nine years I have been teaching adult ESL part-time and I have to say it is by far my favorite age of students. I love creating lessons, delivering lessons, and interacting with students who realize it is a privilege to be educated. I love that with adults I can do what I love without having to deal with potty breaks, discipline, or a strict curriculum. My job has always felt more like a hobby to me! It feels like me.
At the end of every quad we have a party to celebrate the hard work the students have accomplished. As my morning class was planning the party on Tuesday, I volunteered to bring something. One of my students said, "No teacher, this is a celebration of YOU." Wow! That really warmed my heart. While I have been thinking we were celebrating them, they were thinking we were celebrating what I gave to them. Oh my, the food was incredible. We had the most delicious seasoned pork, Puerto rican rice, tamales, a shrimp salad, jellos, and lots of flan. (Yes, all diet restrictions are ignored for these parties. I am not about to reject these gifts from my students.)
As each student left yesterday, I was received with hugs from each and every one of them along with a "Thank you Teacher." From some I also received, "I love you Teacher." I also received other gifts (gift card, candy, homemade flan, candle) and nice cards. Many of them asked if there was any chance I could move up with them next semester. I have done that on a few occasions, but over the years I have learned that each new set of students quickly becomes my favorites so I might as well start enjoying them.
My answer to Sophia is a solid answer. I love what I do! When I teach my students, I leave each and every class feeling that as much as I gave, I received that much more. Saying that, this semester has been exhausting. I took on an additional ten hours of teaching this quad and I am looking forward to a month long vacation. My family has missed me and I feel the same way. January 18 will be here soon enough and again I will be ready to meet all the wonderful loving people out there who work so hard to learn English while also maintaining jobs and families.