Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I can't turn children away who want to learn...from me!

I have to teach 3 weeks of English Camp during the winter vacation.

Week 1 - 3rd grade
Week 2 - 4th grade
Week 3 - 5th grade

I've run many of these camps before. They're different from regular classes because I teach alone (I teach with a co-teacher during regular classes).
Image taken from Google Images

The class limit has always been 20 students. That's a manageable class size.

Yesterday when I arrived at school, there were about 20 students (3rd graders) waiting outside the English classroom to hand in their reply slip to say if they wanted to attend the camp.  The final count was 22 students. 22 screaming hyper-active 3rd graders for a whole myself?! I figured I could do it.

A little while later I heard that there were some students who were late to hand in their reply slip. Their homeroom teachers misunderstood and didn't send their students to the English class, so they got left out. So it wasn't even the student's fault!

I felt very sorry for them, but had to be strict and say no more applications. If I kept saying "Ok, one more student", I'd have to do it again and again. Also, the bigger the class is, the less time I will be able to spend with each one individually.

This morning I woke up thinking about how I had to reject those few students. A voice inside my head told me that I can't turn children away who want to learn...from me! I had to make a decision - should I bend the rules and allow them all in? I knew very well that I was getting emotionally involved with my work.

It's hard to divorce your emotions from work
when children are involved.

I called my teacher friend on my way to work at 8am and she said that it may be hard for me since I'd be teaching alone. Still - it bothered me.  I decided that by working here in Korea as an English teacher, it's not just a job for me, but it's service I'm providing. When I arrived at work, I told my co-teacher that I will accept the other students who want to join the camp. The latest count is 29 students.

This made me think of a passage I read in The Unmistakable Touch of Grace, by Cheryl Richardson.

According to the ancient philosophy of Vedanta, selfless service is called karma yoga, the path of selfless work, wherein every action is offered to God as a sacrament. By doing so, it is said that one eventually attains unions with God.
I felt so much better after I decided to bend the rules. I shared this story in a chat with an uncle whose advice I always take to heart. I feel so lucky to have mentors - all over the world. He said:

Some personal issues arise out of this:

  1. If you bend the rules, there is always the possibility that you will be taken advantage of. Are you prepared to accept that?

  2. If you follow the rules by the book, then your personal feelings come into play and can make you feel despondent.

  3. With such a heavy load alone, what is in the best interest for you, is the question to be answered!

    and then..

  4. Your peace of mind comes first, otherwise YOU WON'T BE DOING A GOOD JOB WITH THE FEELING OF HAVING DEPRIVED SOMEONE.

Well, I know I'm going to bed tonight feeling satisfied about my decision!


Unknown said...

Its a very good decision, to teach is a duty for teacher. So those who want to learn, you have to teach them, and only 9 students more dont make that much difficult, but you are making the difference in their life with teaching them foreign language and that way you will make them take more interest in english. Even one of the extra student do better in life, you will be very happy to see it. In my opinion you are doing right. And they says, "All good Karma will count in life, whenever you need". Take care..

Anonymous said...

chetan i love your energy. keep it up.

Anonymous said...

well my child i can only say that im very proud of your decision and i know you will be able to handle it coz i witnessed you with your kids in the summer camp and you were brilliant. thanks to big uncle to for guiding you.

Sheetal said...


I agree and I'm glad I changed the rules for them. By the way, here ... 9 extra children make a big difference. Even one or 2 makes a difference. Sometimes, students can take advantage of foreign teachers 'cause they know that they can get away with mischief. I hope they will behave for me :-)

Sheetal said...


Thank you very much. Yes, I'm very grateful to Motamama for the good advice and very wise words. xxx