What I have learned about teaching so far
On my year abroad, I am spending seven months teaching in Avignon, a town in the south of France. My official title is “teacher's assistant” but in reality, I teach the class by myself. Usually, the real teacher sits in the corner marking homework, only looking up to tell a particularly disobedient student to be quiet.
After my first week, I realised how difficult it is to be a teacher. First, there's the lesson planning. I have 12 classes a week, all of different ages and abilities, so I can't re-use the same materials. It takes me hours to look up worksheets, games, songs and activities to make the class more interesting.
Next, there's the lessons themselves. It's exhausting! I often teach four classes in a row, standing on my feet, having to be cheerful and upbeat even if I feel ill or tired. It's also very difficult when a student won't stop talking and doesn't listen to me. Most students are very attentive and well-behaved, but even one disruptive child can make things very difficult.
In addition, I never guessed how much extra work there is outside the classroom! Small things like photocopying worksheets and marking homework take up more time than I ever imagined.
However, despite all of these downsides, I love my job. I work in primary schools, so we play games and do colouring instead of always reading and writing. The children are very enthusiastic about learning English, and it's very rewarding to see them learn something new. I feel very proud when a student doesn't even understand a question at the beginning of the lesson, and at the end of the class can answer it perfectly! The best part is seeing a student who really wants to learn and tries hard.
I know that when I was at school, I took my teachers for granted. I thought it was a punishment for me to be in school learning all day, and not playing with my friends. Now I know that the teachers were just trying to help me, and that they put a lot of effort into lessons. When I go back to university for my fourth year, I have promised myself that I will try very hard to listen to my teachers, not talk to my friends during lessons, and do all my homework on time!