I teach TESOL. My students are visitors to Vancouver who would like to gain more skills teaching English for when they return home. English language learners themselves, they often lack confidence in teaching English, no matter how many years of teaching experience they may already have. My students are (sometimes) also native English speakers, in their 20 somethings, eager and ready to get a taste of the world through the wonderful opportunity of teaching English overseas. These students may not have traveled anywhere before, and are not aware of their need to simplify how they say things, and expect cultural and linguistic barriers when they finally, eagerly, go overseas.
This current group of students is extremely bright and wonderful. Most are already experienced teachers, hungry for more information. I have added many things to the six week curriculum because of their interest, including a how-to seminar on dealing with students with ADHD, a talk on Autism, some interesting developments in SEL (social and emotional learning), and even discussing some neurobiology such as how activity in the Nucleus Encumbens is lessened in students with autism and adhd. Specifically, the depletion of oxytocin in children with Autism, and the depletion of dopamine in children with ADHD. (Notably interesting: these are 2 of the 'love' chemicals in the brain.) We even did a Japanese calligraphy workshop after school one day.
My students are marvellous. They cook meals for each other to share at lunch. They give each other massages. They cry on each other's shoulders. They drink together. They share bed bugs. (This last point is true... but I don't want to get into it here.) There are no boundaries between them.
Additionally, they are extremely sweet towards me. They bring me food. They shower me with compliments. One student even slapped me on the ass a few days ago (then immediately felt awful for doing so...) but I took it as the most wonderful expression of love from a student I have ever received. Ha!!!
One day (2 days ago) I walked into the classroom and two students (actually the most eager and wonderful of the group... and yes... one of them was the ass-slapper) were speaking in Korean. Now, this is absolutely against school policy. We strongly enforce the English only policy here. I was verklemmt!! What to do? The ass-slapper needed to be expelled from school for a day, as this was the second time I'd caught her. Woe, woe, woe. To undo the feelings of love and generousity which had until that point run so freely! To do the duty of the faithful officer at her post as professional and obedient teacher in this ESL establishment, to gain the respect of my boss and colleagues at the expense of the classroom atmosphere!
Well perhaps they will be mature about it. I could only hope that my philosophy of friendly boundary-less-ness would not make my professionalism at this point utterly confusing and devastating for the poor things.
I sat them down. There were tears. There was a look of being betrayed in their eyes. And then one student burst out... "By doing this so late in the course, you have ruined the entire experience for us! We cannot get rid of this shame!!!" WTF?
Dudes, it's school policy. I was just staying on track with my role as employee at this school. I did what I had to do. (wait... wait... that line is familiar... where have i heard that before???)
That night (2 days ago), I dreamt that I was on a rickety roller coaster. As I rounded the corner, I could see that the car ahead of us was stuck on the track and nearly falling off. We couldn't stop and came colliding down the track into the car ahead, throwing one of the passengers onto the concrete below. She died instantly.
I was staying on track. But I still feel terrible about it.