Eight Things I’ve Learned From Being An English Teacher

Oh hey there!

I didn’t see you start reading, why don’t you make yourself comfortable?

It’s been a pretty long time since adding anything to this blog, and for that I apologize. Sometimes inspiration falters and in other moments we get too busy.

Since the last time I wrote, which was maybe a couple of months ago, I’ve been continuing the life of an English teacher living somewhere outside of the USA.

The recent months have been filled with lots of private lessons, teaching at an academy with loud primary school students, spending time with friends, and doing a little bit of traveling.

Recently I’ve been hearing that people really like to read lists, whether it be about restaurants or maybe about football player rankings. I wanted to try a list out myself, just to see how it felt to write one.

Here is my first ever written list ( besides one used for grocery shopping).Since starting as language assistant two years ago, and now working as an independent linguistic gun for hire, I feel safe to say that a few life lessons have been learned since diving into teaching.

This is what I’ve learned (so far)…

We are all human beings

One of the most important things to always remember is that the person or people who you are teaching aren’t just students, they are people just like you. They might be only four years old and can hardly old a crayon but inside this is a little person who has emotions and feelings. I’ve caught myself many times just thinking of my students as just few extra dollars to fund my coffee addiction, but this isn’t right. We are all human beings who are trying to live the best life we can. The more you remember that they are individuals, then it not only makes you a better teacher but it also makes you an improved part of this planet.

Nothing lasts forever

Each time I finish a private lesson I try to be thankful, because in the world of private English teaching you can’t ever guarantee that you will see the person again next week. People get sick, bored, change their work schedules, or quite simply move away.  Currently I have a schedule that is comfortable and financially adequate to fund my love of keeping a low profile. At the drop of a hat this might change, so I need to not feel too comfortable and be always grateful.

Know how to manage your money

Since students do sometimes cancel, move away, or change life goals, it’s always important to keep track of how much money you are spending. Maybe this week I made enough money to go out to dinner a few times, but I shouldn’t make a habit of treating myself with money that hasn’t been earned yet.

Remember that you are valuable

In life it’s best to never cut yourself short of what you think you are worth. If you are a hard worker and talented at whatever it is you do, then why not try to get paid for it? I wouldn’t ever try and rip someone off, but I also don’t want to rip myself off either.

Respect your boundaries

Depending on where you teach English, whether it be in China or in my current place of residence, you will be confronted with numerous potential students who want to start a series of study dates. If I would have said “yes” to every person who has asked me to teach them, then I wouldn’t have time to write in this blog. I would be running around town, introducing strangers to my impressive friend-circle of phrasal verbs. It’s good and healthy to say “no” sometimes, in fact I think it’s important that people learn how to say this more often. If you are saying “yes” in order to be nice, then maybe you are setting yourself up for future problems. It’s good to always keep that in mind.

Be flexible

Sometimes people show up late for class, sometimes they need to change the day of class, and sometimes they forget entirely that there was one even scheduled. This is something that you can’t let ruffle your feathers. As stated before, people are people and no one is perfect.

Patience is a virtue

Sometimes you have to stand your ground in front of a bunch of screaming six year olds. The desire to enter a verbal cursing competition might be surging but you have to be calm. Some private students might be excellent speakers but very slow readers (or vice-versa ) and you have to let them finish each sentence even if it feels like you’re stuck in the movie Frozen. You are there to help them, listen, and be there as a guide.

Lists make you sexier

This probably isn’t true, but I wanted to make sure you were still reading and not completely asleep yet.

You just passed my reading test! Ten life points for you 🙂

Thank’s for checking out this blog and I hope you liked this list. We are always learning something, even without realizing it.

Have a wonderful day or evening.


Daniel Catena

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