I remember saying to myself a few years ago that I would never want to teach high school students. I’ve always enjoyed being around young children, but I didn’t think I would have the strength or temperament to teach fourteen and fifteen year olds. This is mostly due to the fact that I was not always the most well behaved high school student and I would not have wanted to put up my sixteen-year old self as a twenty-two year old or any aged teacher. However, now that I’ve been in the classroom for two weeks now, I officially take it back!! Each class that I find myself teaching is full of enthusiastic, energetic, hilarious and bright young adults that remind me that even though they can be a lot sometimes, they’re all students that deserve my full attention and commitment to them as a teacher and at the bottom of any high schoolers are young adults who are trying to figure themselves out. Or at least that’s what high school was for me.
I finally got a chance to sit down and read some of the 100+ cards that I had students write with facts about themselves. Although I gave them examples to list such as family members, hobbies, favorite foods, places in Manado and goals for English class this year, many of them wrote even more personal things that surprised me and put many smiles on my face. I advertised the activity as a way for me to learn their names but I’m so happy that they wrote what they did because it makes me a lot more motivated to form relationships with as many individuals as I can: they’re all so wonderfully different, full of different goals, worries and senses of humor. Although not everyone’s English is correct all of the time (and I’m starting to notice more that mine is not either!!) their ideas are getting across and reading their ideas with some errors makes their writing more endearing.
Some of my other favorites:
- As a teenager I don’t like to socialize with people, antisocial teenager, you can say. I just don’t want to blend with society, so forgive me if I’m too shy
- I love playing basketball, I’m not arrogant, care to each other. My favorite food is fried chicken
- I can speak English in American, Australian, and British accent
- I’m 16, healthy, and alive. I don’t like veggies, unless one day it will taste like chicken then I’ll eat those green things. I’m 5”1 (I’m not short, I’m just a packaged size of fun)
These responses are only from the first activity I did with six of my classes so I still have over 100 more cards to read…I can’t wait!
Last night I went to the senior high school’s choir concert, which was one of their performances before thirty-two of the members go to Korea in two weeks to compete in the international competition there. Although I had little idea of what the concert would be like, I did have some expectations because they have apparently gotten first place the last five years. Seeing as it’s an international competition, I figured they had to be pretty good… but they weren’t just good or great, they were exceptional.
They began with a few songs in Indonesian that I was mesmerized by but then also sang many songs in English. Since my school is first and foremost Christian, at least 90% of the songs were somehow related to Jesus. All of the members were dressed in red outfits and most of the girls were wearing high heels (according to Megan who has been in choirs all throughout her life, this is a big no-no). From the moment they sang their first note, emotions welled up inside me. Even though I’ve only been apart of this community for a month, I felt so joyful and thankful listening to the students (some of whom I teach) singing so expressively and beautifully. I think I felt more emotional because I was so happy to not just be a guest at the event, but to feel like I was somehow a part of it.
While all of the singers were great, one girl who is in twelfth grade had the most jaw-dropping voice I think I’ve ever heard in my entire life. She sang most of the songs in a register I didn’t know was possible and at the end of the second to last song she hit five notes, all of which I’m pretty sure could have literally blown the roof off of the place. It was truly a sound I cannot put into words, but that’s okay. I felt like the whole concert was something I could have only fully captured in the moment with each note lasting in its own magical eternity.
So yeah, being back in the classroom has been such a wonderful thing these last few weeks. While I’m sure I have many long, hot days ahead of me, I’m excited to be working with such wonderful young minds that will undoubtedly make me a better educator and shape my character. I feel lucky to be in a situation where I can positively influence students in both their English language skills and as young adults trying to navigate the world of high school. While I’m in a country I’ve never been a student in before, I was only in their (relative) shoes six years ago and I believe I have something to offer.