More than ever, now that I am a teacher, I have found myself in times when I am simply exhausted (mentally... and sometimes physically) and wondering, "What more can I do? I've tried x y and z and nothing is sticking." There are times when I feel like the hill in front of my students is as big as Mount Everest... we have so much work to do before they are where they need to be. And yet, I look at them, and when I teach them, I am filled with so much joy. Every small success is a step forward, and they know it too - when I smile, they smile and feel good about themselves. So much of the job is building a child up - how can I teach them all that I can, push them to succeed, and give them the confidence they need to keep trying?
I think that's why I love working with children. In them, I see such resiliency - most of them are not afraid to try, and it's okay if you make mistakes. I tell my kids everyday, "You have to give it a try - it's okay if you don't get it right, that's why Ms. Pan is here, to help you learn." They know that after being with me for the past 3 months - "Ms. Pan is here to help you!" Hahaha. :) Anyway, on the other hand, I have seen some of my students who are at the verge of giving up, at the young age of 6. Imagine this - you are sitting in a classroom, where you don't understand the language, where the teacher is giving directions but you have no idea what you're supposed to do. Day by day, this is your life - how would you feel?
I think I'd be so frustrated and I would give up, in those circumstances.
But I don't see that in my students. Even when it's hard to communicate and I resort to silly gestures and pictures, they are eager to learn and eager to please. I always tell them, though, that their learning to read/speak is not for me, it's for them. It's for their future. I have felt completely overwhelmed by the responsibility that has been given to me, but I think I can sleep each night knowing that each day, I am doing what I can.
Today, a student was able to recognize 16 letters as opposed to two weeks ago, when he recognized just 9. Small steps, small victories - we will get there, together.
And I'm enjoying every minute of the journey!