Popular to contrary belief, the life of an educator is not easy. I have watched my mom work for hours on end after coming home from an 9-hour school day. On top of grading tests and assignments until early in the morning, she would alter lesson plans to fit a curriculum that she did not design and come up with activities to keep students engaged so that they would be less likely to misbehave. As someone who really cares about her students, I have seen her work weekends, long breaks, and even summers, even though she technically will not get paid for all those extra hours. This is not a job where you leave your work at work and come home. So why do people complain about teachers being “lazy” or “bad”? What makes a “good teacher”?
It surprises me how many people pursue education that should not. There are those who do not seem to do well with people. As an educator, you are constantly interacting with all kinds of people. You need to have the capacity to do that every single day for hours. Teaching is more than just passing knowledge to others, not to mention being able to pass knowledge to others. Some educators are very smart but do not know how to transfer their knowledge to students.
You must encourage your students. Your subject is not mandatory after a certain point, so student enrollment can go way down after the first two levels of the language you teach. The goal is to get more students to take your class. If you are upset about enrollment, look at what you have been doing. Stop grading strictly; this will make students feel discouraged. Make them feel like learning a language isn’t so hard and like they can reach that goal. Dumb things down for them if they don’t understand a complicated concept. Make students excited to go to your class every day.
As someone who has successfully spoken three other languages with native speakers of those languages, I can confidently say that the majority of people will not correct every mistake that is made. Students will want to better their language skills, but how would you feel if you were excited about a certain subject or hobby and someone corrected every little thing you did wrong? Correction is necessary but should not be overdone.
My favorite class this semester is my Sounds of Spanish class. It is not just because I am interested in phonetics and the Spanish language, but a large part of it deals with the professor. Not only is he personable and engaging but he takes his time. As a teacher, professor, or tutor, you should be open to learning from those around you so that you can better your skill set. The best professors I have had all have that in common. They learn from other professors, students, and take their time presenting material so that others can understand it. Instead of assigning 100 pages of reading in a foreign language every day, they will assign a chapter of reading. The next day, they will reinforce what we read by going over the chapter and giving us an easy assignment that does not take up hours of our day, but still does a good job of reiterating what was learned in class. That is how information really sticks. That is how you set yourself and everyone else up for success so that one day, someone walks out of that classroom saying that they remembered something they learned.
I may not have much experience, but as a student who has been on both sides of the classroom, I have gotten a lot of insight from my experiences. I have tutored students in two languages and did an English-teaching internship in France, which is nothing compared to someone who has a doctorate or has gone through a certification process, but I came back from those experiences having learned some things. What I can pass on is this blog post, a plea to teachers to treat their job as more than just a job. Maybe I would be able to walk around school one day without hearing, “I loved Spanish/French/*insert language here* and was good at it until I had Mr./Mrs. So and So.” It is not completely your fault for what someone else chooses to do, but you definitely make an impact on their choices. Make it a positive one.