In this article, I share:
- How I started teaching
- 3 reasons why I liked teaching
- 4 reasons why I quit teaching
- What my plans are
How I Started Teaching
I started teaching when I was 23.
At the time, I hadn’t graduated from university yet. But I took a gap year because I was going through a rough time. So, even though I only had one more year left before graduation, I packed my bags and moved to Budapest to stay with my parents.
While I was there, my mom encouraged me to look for private tutoring opportunities. And I decided to do it because I wanted to be a teacher when I was younger since I loved kids.
So, I started to look for job openings. And that’s how I found Angloville.
Angloville is a language and cultural exchange program. It’s hosted in Europe between native English speakers and language learners. The learners are a mix of professionals or youths depending on the program you choose. During the program, there’s a mix of casual conversation, workshops, roleplays, games, and activities.
This program was perfect for me because I was already in Europe. So, I completed week-long programs in Poland, Malta, and England.
While doing the programs, I also got certified to teach English as a second language. This is because Angloville offers an Advanced TEFL Scholarship.
From there, I taught English to 1st and 4th graders at an elementary school in Budapest. Then, I moved to Taiwan where I worked at a private elementary school for one year, and a kindergarten for another year. And eventually, I moved back to Budapest to teach kindergarten.
What I Liked About Teaching
I’ve talked to a lot of teachers during these last couple of years. And if you ask them, “Why’d you become a teacher?” The first response is usually something like, “I really love kids.”
At first, that was the case for me, too. It seemed to be the perfect career path for me. But my passion for teaching evolved as I gained more experience.
So, here are the top 3 reasons why I loved teaching:
1 — I loved seeing their progress.
You see their whole journey from the moment they enter the classroom to learning the rules and routines. From not being able to say anything in English to then being able to speak and express their thoughts and feelings to you.
More than the academics, I loved seeing their non-academic progress. I loved watching them learn how to communicate, be kind, be problem-solvers, and be okay with making mistakes.
Seeing your students’ progress is truly one of the most amazing feelings in the world. Because it’s gratifying to know you’re making a positive difference in their lives.
2 — I loved building relationships with them.
I had a 3rd-grade student confide in me that she wanted to commit suicide because of how depressed she felt at school. This little girl attended a private elementary boarding school where she saw her parents for at most 3 days, every month.
She studied all the time. She had no time to do all the “regular” things kids do at home. Like watch TV. Use the computer. Or play with her friends because of the intense curriculum at the school.
I’m relieved and glad she felt safe and secure enough to confide in me so that I was able to get her the support she needed to overcome her suicidal thoughts.
This journey of your students not knowing who you are to then liking you. Trusting you. Feeling safe and secure with you. And confiding in you with their deepest thoughts and feelings is truly a heartwarming experience. And I’m so thankful I experienced it.
3 — I loved learning from them.
We can learn so much from kids.
For example, adults tend to spend most of their time feeling depressed about the past or anxious about the future. But kids have this incredible ability to immerse themselves in the present. This is why they’re able to laugh, cry, get angry, and express all their emotions so wholeheartedly.
Kids also don’t care as much about making mistakes. When I lived in Taiwan, most adults didn’t like speaking English even if they could because they were afraid of making grammatical errors. And they always apologized for their imperfect English. But kids? They don’t care about making mistakes. They don’t care about grammar. They just want to talk to you.
Adults tend to hold on to people, situations, and things that don’t serve them for a lot longer. But in my experience, kids tend to let go of these more easily. For example, if they get into an argument with their friend, if they fall, or if someone doesn’t share toys with them, of course, they’ll get upset. But after it’s been resolved, they’re quick to forget about it and move on.
And lastly, kids can teach us so much about patience and empathy. Because when dealing with kids, you have to be unconditionally patient and empathetic.
Why I Quit Teaching
Even though teaching is incredibly gratifying, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine like most people think. Teaching has many challenges, too. So, here are the 4 reasons why I quit teaching.
1 — Teaching is emotionally draining.
I’ve worked a lot of different jobs before. I was a waitress, customer service representative at the gym, aesthetician, and copywriter. But none of those jobs were as emotionally exhausting as teaching.
Plus, you have to anticipate and solve problems every minute in the classroom. This can lead to decision fatigue. Surprisingly, teachers make more minute-by-minute decisions than brain surgeons. That’s extremely tiring! And so, by the end of the day, your self-control and willpower get depleted making it easier to snap at people or get upset.
To make matters worse, teachers can’t express their feelings because they shouldn’t get angry or break down crying in front of their students. So, they need to bottle their feelings which is unhealthy.
2 — Teaching is a lot of work.
You might think teachers only work 40 hours a week. Plus they have summer and winter holidays, half-days, and school trips. Sure, this may be true… but this doesn’t account for the work they need to do outside of teaching hours. There’s no such thing as leaving work when you’re a teacher.
When teachers aren’t teaching, they have to:
-Organize and keep their classroom clean
-Decorate their classroom for every holiday and season
-Plan out every five minutes of their class, while making sure the lessons are engaging
-Anticipate potential problems and solutions
-Prepare for school trips, parent-teaching meetings, open houses, and school events
-Grade assignments. All. The. Time.
-Write progress reports
Most of these things are done outside of teaching hours.
3 — I don’t agree with the educational system, especially in Taiwan.
In Taiwan, kids are always taking tests because the Ministry of Education thinks that taking tests means kids are learning. And that test results represent how well they’ve learned. Even my kindergarten students, 3–5-year-olds, had 3 tests in one semester!
So, there’s a lot of pressure on the kids to do well. And because of this, kids often lose their passion for learning. How can they not, when all they do is listen to teachers lecture, memorize, and regurgitate information without applying anything? And without engaging and applying the information, they lose the ability to think critically.
Plus, we give everyone the same test and judge their intelligence based on how well they perform without considering their individual strengths. It’s like this picture:
In short, “if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it’ll live its whole life believing it’s stupid.”
In Taiwan, we focus so much on test results. We believe that the kids who score well are geniuses and praise them. And we believe the ones who don’t score well aren’t smart. Then, we force them to study to get better grades. We discourage them from focusing on their strengths and interests. All these things can negatively impact their self-confidence in the future.
4 — There’s a lot of pressure on teachers.
Being a teacher is a huge responsibility because anything you say or do can have either a tremendous positive or negative impact on the child.
Good teachers will help you find your talents, pursue your dreams, and prepare you for the future. But some teachers may accidentally do the opposite and discourage students from succeeding. In my experience, this is because disciplining students is hard and can get tricky sometimes.
As a teacher, you’ll, without a doubt, come across a student who can be difficult to handle. In these cases, you have to be careful about how you discipline your students.
If you always discipline them in a negative way by disrespecting them, shouting, and sending them to the hall, or to the principal’s office, then it can destroy their self-confidence. This can have severe consequences for them when they’re adults.
I’ve seen a lot of teachers be disrespectful toward their kids. Some of them have said, Shut up, you’re terrible, or I really don’t like you to them. Now, I can understand why they handled the situation like that. Sometimes, the kids become too much to handle, and you burst out with anger. But this is not the way to discipline your kids.
Instead, you need to have justified consequences. You have to get to the root of the problem. And sometimes, you have to ask their parents for help. These are more positive ways of disciplining students.
My Future Plans
Before I quit teaching, I freelanced as a copywriter and content writer. So currently, I still have clients whom I write copy and content for, for their online businesses. I also work at my parents’ restaurant. And I plan to continue researching, writing, and creating content about my topics of interest and sharing what I know with the public on Medium, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
This was my experience with teaching. I hope you gained some insight from my experience. And I hope it helps you to either decide whether you want to pursue teaching as a career or gives you the courage to quit teaching and start over if you’ve been considering it.