Looking back at my elementary and high school years as well as my years in college, I understand that I had a number of teachers who were able to propel my learning forward, teachers who succeeded at creating an engaging environment that sparked students’ interest and curiosity.
When I finished high school I decided to pursue a career in languages, more specifically translation. The interesting thing about translators is that we learn a little bit of everything as we have to translate all kinds of documents from airplane manuals to birth certificates, to medical reports. For many years, I loved my profession, but after working at home for almost two decades I started feeling very lonely. During high school, I had quite enjoyed tutoring children who struggled with English. It had given me great joy to see those children grow and make progress. As I did not have a teaching license, I decided to teach Spanish for adults at the local community centre. My first group was quite large, with sixteen students who ranged in level and age. Preparing classes for many levels and interests was a challenge, but I looked forward to every class and it was very rewarding to see my students learn and enjoy the experience.
When my children started school, I had the opportunity to volunteer in their classroom. I would help with reading on Tuesdays, during field trips or with other tasks such as organizing students’ art books. A few years ago, I was also contacted by a local high school whose Spanish teacher had left a few months before the end of the school. They were looking for someone to take over temporarily. This time the challenge was different as I had to teach grade 10 students who no longer idolize their teachers and had little interest in learning Spanish. After the first class, I realized I had to adapt the content to make it more relevant to their lives in order to engage these young adults. Although I was not able to change the learning experience these students had had during the previous months, this new approach eventually led to improved student engagement. This experience was very inspiring as it shows the teacher’s ability to identify student’s skills, goals, interests and fears is key for a successful learning experience.
These experiences slowly led me to realize how much I missed and enjoyed being in a learning environment and the happiness student growth used to bring me. The contrast between the feelings of isolation and loneliness working from home caused in me and the joy and satisfaction teaching brought about slowly became very apparent and I realized it was time to make a change.
Although this new path has just begun, I am very excited about one day having my own classroom. I believe all children have something special and are capable of learning. Just like I was a curious child who was eager to learn, I look forward to inspiring in my students that desire to learn and to find out more, to help them grow and develop their skills and overcome their challenges in an engaging and loving learning environment.