Monday, December 19, 2011

A few minutes could make a difference

This is my third week with my Pre-Int & Int classes so it's no surprise that I've gotten to know their personalities and moods by now. This morning, when one of my students, who I'll call "A" walked into the classroom rather quietly instead of his usual smiling face, I immediately knew something was up.

I quietly asked him if he was alright. He said no. I asked if he was sick. He said no. I asked him if there was anything he'd like to talk about, and he said he'd tell me after class.

A is in his early twenties. He's sharp, witty and generally a nice guy. So when he spoke to me after class and told me about his "problem" I felt two things. Firstly, I was glad that he felt he could trust me enough to open up and tell me what was bothering him.  Secondly, it reminded me how each and every student comes with their own unique background. Within 90 minutes, I travel between Cape Town, Brazil, Columbia, Angola, Saudia Arabia and many other countries. Each student in my class has some story to tell. They're mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives etc. After a 90 minute lesson, I feel more rejuvenated than tired - believe it or not!

Being a teacher does not mean merely teaching. It means learning just as much as the students. It means empathizing, but at the same time being cautious so as not to become emotionally attached to students.

We have to remember that a language school is like a business. As teachers, we are the service providers and the students are our clients. Each "client" has a particular need and it is up to us - the teacher - to ensure he/she is comfortable as many have traveled far and wide to be here in our country to study English.

By just taking a few minutes of your time to chat to a student, you could be making a big difference for him or her. Just by knowing that somebody cares!


Eduardo Santos (@eltbakery) said...

Great post! I've learnt throughout my years as a teacher that 5 minutes before and after my lesson can make a big change in the progress of a group. It's about making them comfortable and able to trust you not only as a teacher, but as a human being. In the end of the semester, these minutes make a huge difference!

Sheetal said...

Hi Eduardo, Thank you so much for reading this & for your comment. I can only, but agree with you :)

Vicky Loras said...

Hi Sheetal!

I started looking at your blog again tonight and among lots of gems I found this one. Spot-on!

It happened to me last Tuesday, when one of my adult students, a very sweet young lady, wanted to talk to me about something troubling her. Immediately after our talk, I think she felt better because she lost that worried look and went into class to see the others and when they asked her, "How are you?" she said: "Great!"

That made my day great too!

Your students are very lucky to have you as their teacher. I won't tire of repeating this : )


Chiew said...

Can't agree more with you, Sheetal! And it's not only with adults, but also with, or even more so, with teenagers. The problem then is the stigma attached to such 'relationships'.
Great post!

Sheetal said...

Dear Vicky & Chiew Pang,

Thank you SO much for your kind words. I appreciate it immensely.

Vicky, you're such a special teacher & I know without a doubt that your students are lucky to have you too xoxo