In Chile, students don’t call teachers by their names. They call them “Profe” which is an abbreviation of “profesor”, or teacher. In their high school English classes, for some reason they call their female teachers “Miss” and their male teachers I actually have no idea. Maybe “Mister”, that would be the logical choice. With my adult students I can usually convince them to call me by my first name instead of “Miss” or “Teacher.” With my teenage students, though, it’s impossible. One student told me that it was just too unnatural and disrespectful to call a teacher by their first name. So all my teenage students call me “Miss”. In fact, they use it as a noun, as in “The Miss is so nice. She plays games with us all day.”
So now for my BIG NEWS!!!
I am leaving the Institute. My new job has offered me full time employment, so as of next week, I’ll be working there and only doing private English classes.
How do I feel? Well, today in the morning I felt so happy I could burst. I thought of the fact that I wouldn’t have to worry about planning for up to five classes at a time. I’ll probably arrive home before 9:00pm most nights. I won’t have to fill out rollbooks only in pen and worry about making mistakes. I won’t have to deal with grumpy students. I won’t have to correct tests. I won’t have to travel to throughout Santiago and to kingdom come on the smelly and hot metro. I won’t have to worry that when I answer an unknown number, the secretary will be calling to ask me to sub at 8:30 on a Saturday morning.
However, on the other hand (there’s always an on the other hand, right?), I am sad and nostalgic. I truly love teaching. I love meeting new people and learning about them. Every class is a bit different and has a different dynamic, and I like the unknown. I’ve been lucky that the majority of my classes have been great experiences. I get a thrill standing in front of the class and having everyone pay attention to me. I like having knowledge that other people don’t and being able to share that with them. I enjoy inventing interesting activities and listening to students’ discussions.
I think about one year nine months ago when I first started teaching at the Institute and how nervous I was. How I planned every class down to the minute and wrote it all out. How I was really strict with my kids’ and teenagers’ classes and was really disappointed when they didn’t do the activities like the adults did (I have since learned!). How I spent hours searching Google for new activities and articles and podcasts. How I arrived at least five minutes early for every class. How I panicked if I hadn’t fully prepared the class.
And now I think about now. I’m much more relaxed. I have an archive of activities, and I know what works well and what doesn’t. I know which pages to skip in which books. I know which obscure vocabulary word to emphasize because it’s on the test. If I don’t plan a class, I can pretty much think of appropriate activities as I go. I can anticipate students’ questions and mistakes. I play games and sing songs with teens and children, and have learned that competition always makes thing more interesting. I know which podcasts speak slow enough for students to understand, and which are impossible.
In other words, now that teaching is 100% easier for me, I’m leaving. And I’m having to learn all over again at my new job.
But that’s pretty much what life is all about, right? If we always did the exact same thing, we’d all end up bitter and bored.
I’m going to be sad on the last day of class, when the students file out of the classroom saying “Bye, Miss.” There won’t be a “See you next class” and instead of “Have a good weekend” it will be more like “Have a good life.” But I’m happy that I’ll be able to continue teaching private classes, because yes, it’s good money, but also because I won’t have to 100% completely stop teaching. I enjoy it too much to do that.
Note: For anyone seeking information about teaching English in Chile, please don’t think that you have to stop emailing me. I am still very willing to answer your questions, and if I don’t know the answer, I can refer you to someone that does.