Jessica Raines: My AmeriCorps YearJuly 27, 2012 at 12:10 PM | Posted in AmeriCorps, Announcements, Class, Development, ESOL, Family Learning, Student Stories, Teaching, Tutoring, Volunteers | Leave a comment
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I came to the Literacy Council with practically no teaching experience. My background is in psychology and political science, but I wanted to try something new. I did not really know what to expect from this upcoming year of teaching, but I knew it would be hard and rewarding.
The first semester, my fellow AmeriCorps members and I hit the ground running. I had to learn to teach through trial and error. Quickly, I discovered that teaching is not an easy task. Often, there are so many available resources that you can feel like you are drowning in textbooks, websites, and advice. Plus, actually being responsible for someone else’s learning felt incredibly overwhelming. Part of me expected teaching to come naturally, but I found myself spending substantial amounts of time lesson planning and feeling incredibly nervous before each class.
Teaching is an art AND science; skill and practice are required if you want to hone your craft. As time went on, I became more comfortable with it. I took advantage of trainings, sifted through resources and articles, and practiced five times a week in front of my own class. Eventually, lesson planning and teaching became easier. I also stopped stressing about being responsible for someone’s education and focused on enjoying my time with my students; as the saying goes “showing up is half the battle.” Students are ecstatic that someone is willing to take time out of her day to show up to class with a smile on her face and talk to them. I really enjoyed conversing with my students, even though it was extremely difficult at times given their limited language skills. While working with my students to accomplish their goals, I learned about their lives and cultures, and this was incredibly rewarding – more rewarding than words can express.