I’ve been pushing myself to learn everything in Thailand. Learn the language; learn how to ride Lady Ivy (my trusty, lime-green steed); learn directions to the restaurant with the best food, the market and airport; learn the students’ names; learn what room I’m supposed to go to when I teach – normal stuff. But I’ve also been forcing myself to learn how to teach, which, ironically enough, I’ve learned is the worst thing I can do.
In the past few weeks, some days I went up and just wrote grammar rules on the board and read from a book. Some days I created group work and sat at my desk, hoping for student independence and teacher relaxation. But, of course, I never relaxed. I felt guilty and knew it was a waste of time. That wasn’t teaching – it wasn’t even living.
If my kids are going to learn English, they need me to do more than just show up. I needed that from teachers when I was a student, and my kids need it now from me as a teacher. They need me making a fool of myself. They need my heart in every assignment and lesson I create. I flew 9,000 miles to do just that – to be a living, breathing, teaching heart. And instead of vigorously seeking that lesson, it vigorously sought me in the middle of jumping up and down, my hair matted with sweat and my face smudged with blue marker, waving my arms around, smiling, teaching the word “excited”.