Teaching in Vietnam – September 12, 2018
I arrived in Vietnam on Friday (August 24, 2018) and was invited into my school’s office the following Monday. Since I was new, they said I’d be shadowing some experienced teachers for the first few days so I’d know what I was doing when it came to the classroom. However, when I arrived at the beginning of the week, I found out I’d been thrown off the deep-end and was actually teaching my very own class on Tuesday morning. I spent all Monday in a panicked state, sifting through and perfecting lesson plans for my 1st graders.
All night, I tossed and turned, worried that something was going to go wrong in class… that my lesson was too long… that my lesson was too short… that the kids would be bored… that I wasn’t cut out to be a teacher… but when I grabbed up my purse full of agendas, worksheets, games and songs, my coworkers assured me that first graders are forgiving, have no expectations, and pass no judgment. HOW COULD I HAVE FORGOTTEN THIS?!
Hopping out of the company cab, children in blue uniforms with little red neckties cheered and crowded around me as I walked toward my first classroom. They all wanted to touch me, get a high-five, hug me, and yell “Hullooo Teachaaa,” to me. As I lifted my sunglasses, I had a strange déjà vu sort of feeling, where I pictured myself as Jackie-O exiting a plane and getting mobbed by hundreds of her following fans.
Once in the classroom, the feeling of fame escaped me as there was no air-con and the children were all hot and bothered. Not only was I teaching them English for the first time, I was also teaching them how to behave in school for the first time—to raise their hand, to not bite their neighbor, to stop picking their nose… Keeping a class of 35 screaming-six-year-olds at bay is a task all in itself. I left this lesson feeling rather lost, wondering whether I made the right choice in teaching for the year. My voice was spent and my entire being was thoroughly exhausted.
Again, I tossed and turned through the night, worrying that the following day would be just as hectic as the days before. However, in the cab on the way over, a little voice in the back of my mind said, “This is the reason why you came here. Do this, and do it well.” I doubted this voice a little at first, but when I walked into my second classroom, I was relieved to notice that they had provided me with a microphone system so the children could hear me better. Thank the Vietnamese Gods!
The microphone (and my outlook) seriously changed everything, as this class was a HUGE success compared to the precedent. The mic made me the “boss” of the classroom, and turned teaching into something similar to a stand-up comedy routine, where I wasn’t afraid of sharing my weirdest-self with the students. They laughed hysterically at everything I did and actively participated in every activity I presented to them. I played lots of games with them; squealed, wiggled, and shook my body about like a crazy person; picked my nose at the children that had a problem with public nose-pickery, and felt like an auctioneer slinging stars to the teams that got the correct answers quickest or listened to me the most intently. A kid will do just about anything for stars. So, maybe I AM made for this job?
Alena Horowitz | Miss Potato