We´re in April now, and I have two months left of my grant here in Bogota. BUT…I get to return to Colombia in July!! In early March, I applied for a Senior ETA position, and I received it! I cannot be more excited. I will be placed in Pereira, a beautiful, small city in Colombia´s coffee region. Senior ETAs continue to teach English at the university level, but they are also responsible for mentoring and supervising incoming ETAs in their region. I think I will very much enjoy this role, and I look forward to spending another year in this country. I´ve grown so much as a teacher, and I definitely feel like a stronger person. Adapting to a culture that is so different from my own has made me get to know myself better and become more rooted in who I am and what I want in life.
Not too long ago, I faced some challenges in the classroom here at my university, but I overcame that with the help of my tutor and my students. I was able to move forward by being honest, expressing that I needed help and actually being willing to say, ¨What I´m doing isn´t working. I don´t want to change, but I need to listen to improve my classroom environment¨. I now take things less personally in the classroom, and I feel like I´m listening to my students more. It is so easy to go into class and want to dictate every single second that happens. It is easy to want them to hang onto every word you say and pay attention 100% of the time. I have these expectations because of the culture I come from, but I´ve had to let that go because it was causing tension in my class. I think we´ve all had moments as students where we have daydreamed or our mind has left the classroom. It happens. On top of that, our students are not pets that need to be controlled. They are human beings with a bunch of thoughts going on in their head, from thinking about homework they need to turn in and things they have to do at home, to thinking about whether or not their teacher likes them. By recognizing that, I have begun to make a conscious effort to listen to them. Yes, I am in a position of authority, but I am no better than them and some teachers forget that. I may have forgotten that in my attempt to get 100% of their attention at all times. I have my rules, but I now enforce them with empathy and by being very transparent with what I am doing and why. Furthermore, when students feel they are included in the learning process and their teacher recognizes that their students also have a voice in the classroom, things change for the better. The students feel they have a stake in the classroom and that is what I feel allows students to give respect and give importance to the class.
Well, I´ll end this post here for now. Thank you for reading.