A Journey of Inspiration and Gratitude in Teaching
To those who will inspire
Chatter and endless curiosity
Filling hallways with sacred song
Innocence and love
Bloomed as our own world, we inspected
As our own worlds
Blossomed and we learned skill, creation
Endless insects and dolls
Walls filled with pastelled Hope
Children, you are a delight
Your enthusiasm and flair
Even as I teach you
You teach me
of the child I once was
Of easy laughter and simple kindness
My heart is for you
Wherever you go
Let compassion and curiosity
Give way to a walk with Wisdom.
Thinking about the children I have taught, the ones who remember me as “funny”, to those who saw in me a friend. I am filled with gratitude that I am a teacher. A title I once felt disappointed in.
I had in my mind a knack for building worlds, embodying characters and spewing poetry more readily than small talk. How could I have known that the greatest stage I would perform on would be to an audience who could be enthralled by my silliness and passion. The little philosopher, historian and writer within - found in these little beings curious debaters. Ones whose simple questions about life could make me pause a lesson and think. Ones who had created fantastical new species and majestic worlds that considered cause and effect.
When I had decided to go on an adventure and teach English to children, I was unsure what would await. A pandemic affecting my job description a month after landing, had not been on my checklist of preparation. I had been approached by two academies before Twinkle and had been wondering how I felt about the hagwon system considering the research I had seen about the negative elements. Countless blogs posted bad experiences for foreigners and the lessons for many seemed more like; “Here’s the alphabet and rote learning”.
How on Earth would I stomach the repetition and lack of communication? In the words of my former student, Sunny, I was a poet, an actress, a singer, a performer, even counselor at times and I thrived off communication. How could I look at their tiny faces, have so much to say and at best, achieve small talk?
Life lessons, insightful observation, deconstruction I wanted to explore, the heights and depths of Literature, its reflection of humanity and its application of imagination. How could I?
I came across the Twinkle advertisement one day and saw “performer” among the criteria, pausing, I then went to their Youtube page and found children speaking fluent English. They were discussing Matilda, at a younger age than I had read it myself. My eyes widened and I reached out and “auditioned” so to speak with a video of a mock lesson. I then pondered why most hagwons didn’t request such evidence of us teaching a lesson. I mean, not everyone should be a teacher as our Literature showcasing Mrs. Gorf, Miss. Trunchbull and Mrs. Hardlick could attest. Personally, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to teach children, in fact, I had been preparing to teach adults. Until I saw these fluent, curious and captivating children who seemed to share a passion for learning similar to my own.
As with any decent job searcher, I contacted one of the teachers known as Laura, to hear of her woes. Instead, she reminisced about a time when our bosses came to help her move when she’d had trouble. That type of kindness stuck with me and throughout the pandemic – when some of my friends in other hagwons had been left unpaid or just treated without humanity, I found myself at the receiving end of their kindness. When you are in the business of education, humanity should be an approach one is able to impart. This was something I found lacking in an industry that sees foreigners as numbers. This idea of making sure the teachers were okay was also extended to the children. In thoughtful discussions about curriculum and genuine care amongst the staff and teachers alike when discussing students.
Perhaps in the twins, Andrew and Brian, having had their own children and experiencing teaching in Korea themselves, they decided to make a better path available. My director, Jason, shares this vision. They all desire to make better curricula they would be happy with their children receiving. Curriculum that challenges them, makes them think and innovate, aids them in becoming delightful adults who will, it is my belief, change this world for the better. There are several students who have discernment, reason and wisdom to boot that I think would make good presidents. Scarily, I genuinely mean that.
This job was one I had to work hard at to become competent in all the ways needed to serve the children. The skills I have learned did not always come naturally. However, with some perseverance, and guidance from those more experienced, I am genuinely happy to call myself a teacher now. As I’ve walked into yet another year with Twinkle, I find myself content. I am more confident due the character and skills my experiences have developed. I am blessed to work with staff and teachers who will always lend a helping hand and lastly, eternally grateful to have taught and encountered so many lovely children. In them, is good reason to hope for a brighter future.
Ms. Rachel S.