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gaby  Gaby

Essay on Teaching Experience
Purple Belt Test – Kicks Martial Arts
December 13th, 2003


I have to start by saying that I believe teaching is one of the most challenging things a person can do. When I think of teaching, the first thing that comes to my mind is school, and I always had very high expectations of the teachers I had in school. I was sometimes disappointed of some of them because their class and way of teaching was so boring that it did not spark interest in me. Others, however, were absolutely wonderful and I am grateful for those. I think that in all my school years I learned to be very critical of the person that stood in front of our class, and I would complain to my parents because they were not prepared the way “they should” (according to my standards, of course) so I never really had any interest in becoming a teacher myself.

After graduating from college I was invited to teach English to a group of kids (it was only a couple of days a week) “How hard could that be?” I thought. I needed the money so I took the job. It was the most difficult thing I have ever done. I did it for one year and to this day I don’t think I would do it again. That experience made me appreciate so many things I never even though teachers had to do. Here are some of the things I learned:

-Focus on the student
Teaching is never about you, you are not the all powerful, know-it-all person that is going to let everyone know how things are or should be done. It should always be about the person you are trying to help.

-Patience
I believe this is the most important virtue when you are teaching. You learn that people will not do things the way you do, and that they will find their own way at the right time, and you have to be there to support and encourage them. Sometimes, this is really hard for me because I am trained as a designer and even though there’s a lot of interaction with people, there is also a lot of working by yourself and sometimes you forget that when you teach, you have to walk with the student, not in front of him/her.

-Paying attention to verbal and non-verbal signs
Different personalities need different types of attention. As a teacher you have to pay attention to how students react to what you say, you have to understand what motivates them and how you can push them a little more, just to take them out of their comfort zone and show them that they are capable of doing more.

-Preparation
There’s no way you can not prepare for your class, the students will know that, and if they are like me when I was in school, they will be bored or loose interest because somehow it is letting them know that it is not that important, when the reality is that all their attention should be given at that very moment, because that is when you learn the most.

-Knowledge
You have to know your stuff in order to become an inspiration and a role model for the person you are teaching. It shows that if I stay here and work hard you can too, learn all those things and be as good (or better) as the one that is teaching.

-Learning to ask for help (you don’t know everything)
Knowing your stuff is great, but it does not mean that you can’t ask for help if you don’t know something. And it is wonderful to know that there’s always someone around you willing to help.

- Teaching is a challenge
I believe a teacher should keep in mind all of the things I mentioned above (and probably more that I am not even mentioning here), and I tried to when I was teaching English to those children, but it is extremely difficult to do it, at least for me. I believe now that teachers are blessed with the ability to remember most of these things and I have met some that do it with such ease that makes me jealous. And it is wonderful when you come across someone like that, you feel like you have to stay there and inhale all their knowledge.

So when we were asked to help teach the young girls in our Tae Kwon Do class, I have to be honest, I was not crazy about it. Mostly because of the previous experience I had (and because I think teaching is not an easy task), but there is something else I have learned here that I had not realized when I used to teach those children, you can do a lot with example. I find that if I don’t have the exact words to explain something, I can always show them and that makes it easier to understand. It is very visual.

Throughout the years I have learned that we don’t only have teachers in schools, they are everywhere in our lives, and you don’t have to have a teaching degree to be able to help and inspire someone to become a better person. One of the best things that has happen to me while training here is the time when we were doing forms back and forward and I complemented the sharpness and breathing in one of the forms this young woman performed and her answer was: “I learned that from watching you”. It was great, after that I try to pay more attention to what I do and try to do my best all the time, because you never know who is watching.

Thanks for the experience,
Gaby