English Teacher – Taiwan
Facing a depressed economy after graduation in 2009, I decided to fly to Taiwan and see some of the world. I soon landed a job working as an English teacher in Taipei.
Four days a week for six hours a day I taught the Beavers, a group of 20 rambunctious Taiwanese children about seven years old. I had never been in charge of a classroom before and felt an enormous sense of responsibility for these children’s educations. For example, we learned about tectonic plates, and I realized if they didn’t learn about it it was because I didn’t teach them effectively. I’m glad to say that all of my 7-year-old ESL students passed their English only tectonic plates test.
At the beginning of the year my class had a reputation for being the most undisciplined in the whole school, so I had to quickly gain some valuable problem solving skills. I wrested with where the students should sit, established rules for how they interacted with each other respectfully, and how to best both discipline and reward behavior. I experimented with when to give some slack and show compassion and when to become strict.
Fortunately, I had a supportive boss and co-workers who gave me effective teaching techniques and classroom management styles. I drew deeply from their knowledge and am grateful for it.
I really enjoyed the job. It was fun to play with my creative side devising games and activities, challenging questions, and interacting with the students.
The most rewarding part of the job was when the students used what I had taught them. For example, I was incredibly satisfied the first time taught them how to use the past tense and then later heard them using it correctly during lunch.
I also learned about the importance of putting extra work in. I would write lesson plans for hours off the clock because it made my job significantly easier when I was on the clock. I also got a sense of ownership with the school and wanting to make it great. For example, when they asked me to dress up as Santa Claus and work unpaid hours on Christmas, I said, “Of course.”
Although I loved Taiwan dearly, I got tonsillitis six times in the last two months there and moved back home to get surgery.