Saturday, October 15, 2016

On Becoming a Teacher

Today's story isn't about my recent travels to far away lands. This story begins many years ago with a little brown-eyed girl growing up in the American Midwest.  A little girl who spent many of her carefree childhood days teaching her ''classroom'' full of younger siblings and cousins in her grandparents' basement.  A girl who admired her teachers, loved them, and regarded them as real-life super heroes. This is the story of a girl who grew up in a society where teachers are far too often overworked, underappreciated, and underpaid.  Where barely 18 year old kids feel the pressure to already know what they want to do with the rest of their lives.

And that girl, well if you didn't guess already, it's me.  And all I knew in those days of important college decisions was that I wanted to learn foreign languages and see the world and felt that politics, international relations, and foreign language studies was the way to that goal.  

So I set off to university, naive and optimistic. I poured myself into my studies and experienced success in my academic endeavors.  From representing Georgia in a Model UN to writing my senior thesis on the politics of a divided Ukraine, I shined bright within the sheltered environment of my university, yet found myself time and time again in a completely different role in the ''real world''.  I became a dedicated volunteer teacher of Russian to children in the community, a peer-instructor of a university course for first year students, and an English conversation partner for ELL students. I started out my year abroad as a nanny and English tutor in Germany and found myself spending more time in local schools, orphanages, and English clubs than at the university during my year abroad in Ukraine.  Sometime during that year it became entirely clear that a career in politics just wouldn't make me happy and didn't fit into the plans and dreams I had for my life.  Upon my return to the US I diligently finished off my bachelor's degree in International Studies and Russian Language and Culture, while all the time looking into what the next step might be.

And as life so beautifully has a way of doing, things fell into place exactly as they were meant to.  It took a few rejections and wrong turns, but I eventually ended up Munich - enrolled in the perfect teacher training program, living with the most wonderful host family, and learning and growing in the classroom of the world's most inspiring mentor teacher.  And 2 years and 4 months after the big move across the Atlantic, I met the 24 first and second graders who would fill my classroom in my first year of teaching at Jules Verne Campus.  Less than a week later I held my first Russian class at school.  Each week I get to teach one of my class's music lessons. I'm learning to let go and let the class become a bit chaotic as they discover the world in our Curiosology lessons.  And as someone who has always considered herself anything but artsy, I've surprised myself with how much fun I'm having teaching arts and crafts for two hours each week. The teachers and students at the school come from every corner of the world and you can hear the schoolyard buzzing with a colorful mix of languages. I have the best colleagues anyone could wish for and am surrounded by so much positive energy each and every day.

Since starting at the new school this fall I feel such a sense of contentment and peace.  And I'm so thankful for the journey that brought me here!