I’m at a very early stage in my teaching career. I’ve been working as a teacher of Japanese while doing my PhD for three years now. Most of us teachers have to deal with the same emotions. It’s a sad feeling when we have to say goodbye to classes we really like.
In January this year, I joined a university as new teaching staff. My first class was super awkward on the very first day. I was new, the students were new and none of them knew each other. But I could feel their curiosity and excitement to learn a new language.
We have spent six months seeing each other once a week, apart from the Easter break. During the course, the students asked me an awful lot of questions and I spent so much time preparing for the classes over my research and we learned together. Actually, helping them to learn turned out to be my pleasure.
There were a couple of students who were unwilling to memorise the Japanese symbols, hiragana and katakana. I didn’t force them to learn and showed romanised words to help them read sentences. In the later months of the course, the students learned the symbols and their writing made significant progress. I believe other classmates and the atmosphere in the classroom influenced students’ motivation. We have been blessed with a really nice class and the quality of the whole class has grown.
Many teachers I meet say: “Students are good if the teacher is good.” In my little experience, it’s down to the students. Whenever a class is successful, it’s always because of the students’ contributions and engagement. I do the second or third round of the same lessons with different students and provide the same lessons, but the outcome is always different. The students’ personalities and open-mindedness positively affect the whole class and my feedback.
I just feel so grateful to have had students who created such a classroom environment, who have been my teachers, and who have brought me up as a teacher.
For now, all I can do as a teacher is to wish my students good luck and continue to grow. I look forward to meeting a new group of students in October.
On a teaching day, I carry a tote bag with a Japanese kimono pattern (students love it!), containing omamori (lucky charms), the textbook, a notebook (about students, class activities and outcomes), my whiteboard markers and eraser, pens and some cute ‘well done’ stamps. This has made my work enjoyable and productive.