Saturday, July 10, 2010

What if I'm not good at it?

Larisa the Sack Cat is home, acting like her old self. This morning she found a plastic sack on my dresser, but I caught her before she ate any of it. We'll have to be careful, though, as she has forgotten already about her $950 experience at the vet.

I finished the first of 14 modules of my online ESL course. Since I don't have any formal teaching experience, the material was new, but I picked it up in the reading, and I'm a good enough writer that I easily passed the essay questions that concluded the unit.

Now I'm on the Classroom Management module. I visualize 20 middle schoolers going berserk in my classroom - but, no, it will probably be fewer than 10 students, all adults, with infractions like chatting with a friend in their native language or interrupting. Even so, this was really new material. How to set up classroom seating, how to give clear instructions, how to elicit information rather than providing it. For those of you who have been teachers, you're surely wondering why on earth I'm having any issues with this topic. It's because you have been teachers and I haven't. I've been a trainer, but that's not the same thing.

Anyway, I read through the material yesterday and finished all but the essay questions. And I'm torn. Should I choose a question I already know the answer to, or one where I need to do some research and some learning first? Clearly, if I want to become a competent ESL teacher, I should choose the research and learning. But that means I'm delving into something I don't know about yet. The old achiever in me wants to take the class, earn the A and be done with it. The new explorer in me - remember when I said one thing on my bucket list is to learn to embrace risk? - wants to go to the bookstore, check out various ESL texts, and figure out which one I'd want to use, then discuss the pros and cons of using that text - or anything at all.

For some reason, I feel like I ought to know this stuff already. After all, I know a lot of teachers. I was married to one for 15 years.

How ridiculous, I say to myself. You've got this goal, so do the work.

But what if I'm not good at it?

For sure, I won't be the best. But it's likely I'll be good enough to be useful to my students. I'll just have to get over myself.

What a concept for a new retiree!


#1Nana said...

Hi Linda...Good for you. You'll have fun teaching ESL. The students are so eager to learn that if you can make it fun and low stress for them, you won't have management issues. I wish ou lived across the street, I've still got lots of ESL reference books from my teaching days. I was the administrator for the first ESL program in our district...many years ago. Feel free to email me if you have questions.

Linda Myers said...

I wish I lived across the street too! I figured you'd respond to this "oh, my god" blog.

I'm so basic I don't know how to make it fun for them. Hopefully Mods 3 to 14 will do that. I have lots of energy, enthusiasm, brains and compassion, so that may help, at leaset.

Jo said...

Yes, indeed, "What a concept for a new retiree!"

You're my hero. :-)

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

I think you want to stretch a little by doing new research, so that you "own" everything you've come up with. And yes, you'll be going from experienced pro to inexperienced newcomer, but your life skills will help you get really good at this new task quicker than you think!

Linda Reeder said...

Your words really hit home to me. "What if I'm not good at it?'' has always plagued me. This achiever also wanted the A, whether I learned something new or not.
But now you are setting a new course. You will take on the challenge, the risk, because now you really want to learn.