Glance Back, Gaze Ahead
As I begin my first week of work tomorrow, I take a look back and ahead.
My final TEFL Course assignment was to write a self-reflection on what I liked about the course, what I planned to do right after the course, in the next six months and then five years from now.
Here’s what I had to say:
What I enjoyed most during the TEFL course (that ended Friday) was the same thing that I have always enjoyed most about teaching, the students. I really liked the change of pace of working with adult students. Knowing that the students choose to attend class and seeing the effort that they put forth was motivating for me to find ways to help them learn. I could empathize with their struggles with learning a foreign language as I started learning Spanish when I was fourteen years old.
During the course we covered a lot of information and strategies that I had used during my career as a Spanish teacher. It was very interesting for me to learn how to apply that knowledge and experience to teaching English as a foreign language. There are areas that I need to continue to work on, although I know that I will improve and I am motivated to plan lessons that will ensure that.
Immediately after finishing the course I have two priorities: first, I am looking for work and second, I will look for housing. Then, over the next six months I will be settling into my new life in Barcelona. I will be busy with work and friends and have a nice balance between work and personal time. I’ll finally be able to say, “I work to live,” rather than in my former life when “I lived to work.” I love my work, but to be most effective I know I have to take care of myself even more than I take care of my students.
When thinking about what I’ll be doing over the next five years, for the first time in my life I can honestly say that I don’t know. Now if I were asked in an interview what I will be doing over the next five years, I’ll have a prepared answer that reflects someone with direction and responsibility. But my actual answer is, “I don’t know.” The one thing that I do know is that I’ll be teaching in some capacity. The practice teaching opportunities during this course reinforced for me that I feel most alive, most stimulated and excited when I’m teaching.
In my “former life” I always had specific plans for the future, like continuing to work at my school and eventually retire from there. I had job security that most people would dream of. I loved being in the classroom and year-after-year my students were amazing. The circumstances outside of the classroom were changing though and I knew that if I wanted to be happy not only in the classroom but outside of it too, then I had to do something about it. That’s what brought me to Barcelona, a chance to start over and put myself in situations that I choose to be in. And INTESOL provided a way for me to continue pursuing my passion of teaching. It feels good to say, “I don’t know what I’ll be doing for the next five years.” It feels so liberating to have limitless possibilities lie ahead and to know that I can go in whichever direction I choose.