However, I am also completely scared out of my mind. I am NOT a teacher. Something that the Korean English-worshipping population does not take seriously. At all. I mean, I have a year's teaching experience under my belt (which has substantially widened! I think I've gained all my weight back to be the size I was at the wedding!! AHHH! I hate America! Or myself and my lack of self-discipline and inability to delay gratification. But hating America is easier. So, yes. I hate America!!). But that year was spent barely surviving 3, 5, and 6 year olds who inspired many What the Crap Wednesday posts back in the day. I constantly felt I was letting my kids down and yeah, maybe they can read now, but I just don't feel that was my doing. That was more like a kids being kids and getting smarter by being alive kind of thing. So, I'm completely intimidated by the idea of stepping into a classroom again, as a teacher. To temper this intimidation, I decided to do some reading.
I found a book called Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire by an amazing man named Rafe Esquith. It's kind of his teaching manifesto and method in a short, well-written, and brilliantly inspiring book. He teaches in Los Angeles and every one of his students speaks English as a second language. But they do Shakespeare plays put to music that they play themselves and they make huge awesome art projects and they watch films and write about them and how they relate to their lives and they read novels and they have a classroom economic system that teaches them about how to earn, save, and spend money and THEY'RE IN THE FIFTH GRADE. They're like, 10, people. I haven't even gotten the hang of the whole earn, save, and spend thing yet! This book is serious. And it makes me wish I was a real teacher here, teaching all the subjects. But I'm not. I'm going to be a pseudo-teacher in Korea, teaching English.
This year should be better than last. I am at a serious school, Yonsei ELP, a partner with the Yonsei University in Wonju. They have a real curriculum that I will teach from, which I'm excited about. I always wondered how much better I could have done had I had sufficient teaching materials last year. And I'm not teaching spoiled, sometimes lovely, most of the time riotous small monsters called children. I mean, I guess fifth graders are still children, but you know what I mean. I'm not teaching preschool and kindergarten anymore. I read the book. Finished tonight actually. But I'm still not feeling super-duper prepared. And of course, why should I? I read one book.
But this was a good book, and I am walking away with more of a teaching ethic than actual material to teach with, which hopefully I won't need to get on my own. And there was one part that really confronted me with my own behavior lately. Esquith talks about the Six Levels of Morality and lists each level. In the sixth level, "I Have a Personal Code of Behavior and I Follow It" Level, the kids behave not for reward, not to please someone else, and not even just because they are considerate of other people. They behave because they know what the expect of themselves and they just do it. And I realized sometimes I'm not even coming close to functioning at Level VI. And it hit me here where Esquith discusses characters from Arthur Miller's play The Death of a Salesman:
Later in the play, as Willy desperately tries to understand his failures and those of his own children, Bernard shows up but is in a hurry. He is a lawyer and has a case. As he rushes off, Bernard's father mentions that the case will be tried in front of the United States Supreme Court. When Willy marvels that Bernard didn't mention this astonishing fact, Bernard's father tells Willy, "He doesn't have to. He's doing it."And I thought of how many things I'm mentioning, but not doing. I want to shut up and just do it. And with that ladies and gents, I'm shutting up. I'm going to do.
But I'm still scared as all get out about teaching.