“Teacher, how do you spell yellow?” “Teacher, may I go to the bathroom?” “Teacher – “ The word that I most frequently hear since the beginning of March has been TEACHER. As I continue to learn from assisting, substituting, and observing other amazing English teachers at a private school, it made me ponder what the characteristics of a good teacher are. Since teaching English to elementary school kids at an international school is my career path of choice, I have acquired a bit of knowledge on how to answer this question.
I studied at an all-girls international high school in Tokyo for 4 years, and due to my lack of confidence in English, I decided to join the ESL class for grades 9 to 11. After ‘graduating’ from the ESL class, I thought that the ESL teachers represent the epitome of how a good teacher should be: warm, caring, and considerate. I was only 18 years old at that time and looking back at it now, I can say that I’m overly naive in making that judgment. Having an opportunity to substitute an English teacher for one week became a reality check for me. The ESL teachers I had in the past were amazing teachers, however being an overly lenient and submissive teacher can connote with becoming an ‘inexperienced’ teacher.
My teaching role model is not limited to teachers in schools. I also enjoy observing different mentors in survival shows or other TV programs. Watching the popular survival show series Youth With You allows me to meet Lisa, a manifestation of a perfect mentor who can help and understand trainees in the face of obstacles, whilst maintaining a strict stature when trainees failed to meet her dance performance standards. Other than Lisa, this character also introduced me to Kun, who was a producer (a main host that helps the trainees) for the previous season of Youth With You. Like Lisa, he is an exceptional mentor and when combined, their duality becomes an ideal example of exceptional mentors, professional figures with just the right dose of warm-heartedness.
Reminiscing back to my days as a young student, perhaps there is a tendency that students take teachers for granted – often finding neglecting their teachers’ authority or drifting to oblivion a more lucrative option than sitting in lectures with full attention. I wouldn’t say that I am the best student, especially during elementary school when out of boredom, I occasionally lost my attention in class. However, as I continue to color my experience book as a student and teacher, it is fair to say that teachers are underrated. In response to this, every year during teacher’s day, I send Line or Messenger stickers to my teachers that have taught me as a token of appreciation for their hard work, devotion, and effort to become a lantern of knowledge and role model for us all.
In reality, until today I still haven’t found the correct formula to what defines a good teacher. Perhaps it is difficult to describe qualities of a good teacher in single adjectives, but I am certain that an idea of a good teacher will associate to the ability to lead a moderate sized class of elementary school children and to find the perfect balance between being strict and understanding, two skills that I am still learning until today. Unfortunately, teachers are still a comparatively ‘poor’ occupation since many still believe that the threshold to become a teacher is not that high. In my heart, I truly believe that it is not easy to become a great teacher and as I take more steps in my path to becoming an experienced English teacher, hopefully more appreciation can be given to all the wonderful teachers in the world.