Tomorrow is my first class—a zero level class with a kid named Michael. I feel like I’ve never swam before, and now I’m jumping into the ocean. He doesn’t know any English. I’m not panicky, but things are so new that everything feels uncertain. I have to think many new teachers feel this way.
By teacher Brett A
I used to teach college speech classes. That first class was always so important. It wasn’t content that was critical. Content can be covered, reviewed, and demonstrated in so many ways. It’s connection that’s important. If they were laughing and talking that first day, I had them!
I have to believe young Michael is the same. Can I get him to laugh? Can I get him to say a few words? Can I foster a human connection? What I’ve found is we connect to the heart first and then the head follows. Sure, I have my whiteboards ready. I have my puppets: Rex, my T-Rex, and Nugget, my friendly squirrel. I have my magnetic letters. I have years of teaching experience, which gives me some intuition. But, Michael will be unique. He’s a new challenge. I’ve never taught anyone that knows zero English.
I see Andy on my upcoming roster. He’s level one and is going to learn action verbs. I must admit, there’s a little relief there. He at least speaks some English. Plus, action verbs are so much easier to explain than those verbs of being. Eventually I will see that on my roster, and then my stomach will sink.
I also see Louis, who is learning about asking for things in the community. He’s level two. That’s a little less intimidating for me. He’s already familiar with our learning system, and I can talk to him some and have some confidence he’ll understand.
Fortunately, VIPKID already has the lessons prepared for me. Sure, I’ll have to look them over and prepare, but I know what I’m going to teach. Every new kid, and particularly those first few, are new experiences for me. It’s a little frightening, and I’ll make some mistakes, but I just have to relax, smile, have fun, and make connections. I’ll learn to swim, and so will my students.