This year I will begin on the first leg of my passion projects, a series of jobs and life experiences aimed at discovering my personal goals, skills and place in this world. After failing to secure a favorable position with Americorps, I have decided the first of my passion projects will be teaching.
I chose teaching early on as one of my passion project goals. As part of my soul-searching, I made a list of “heroes” from my personal life. These are not the classic epic heroes – no Martin Luther King or Mother Teresa characters appeared on this list. I just wanted to reflect on people whom I have personally met and respect. I’ve lost the original list, so I can’t post the actual contents, but I do know that half of the people were teachers.
This is no surprise – as a young person two years out of college, it’s natural that the people who influenced me most would be teachers. But the whole time I was in school and university, I thought about my teachers and their teaching a lot. I thought about what they did that I liked and didn’t like. I wondered about their methods, how they treated and dealt with students, and I tried to imagine what I would do the same or differently if I were a teacher.
I’ve also had several people tell me I am a good teacher – I like to help people understand new things, I can be patient with learners, I like kids a lot, and I feel comfortable with public speaking (despite being shy one-on-one, go figure.)
I can also see myself being a teacher – but before pursuing further education or credentials, I wanted to get my feet wet. I though about doing volunteer work, there are some great groups in San Francisco to work with students of any age on any subject. But I decided I wanted a real teaching job. I wanted to learn what it’s like to teach full time, day in day out. I wanted to see what it’s like to actually be responsible for a class, deal with students on my own, and not have a choice about whether I show up to class or not.
I chose to start by teaching abroad. With the current boom in English language learning worldwide, it’s the easiest way I can gain experience teaching that also allows me to work a full-time job without any credentials – for better or worse. I can carry out this experiment while earning real pay and I can save for my future and also save money for less moneymaking experiments later on in my passion projects.
I chose Korea in particular because I already spent time here in 2005-2006. I spent three semesters studying abroad at Soonchunhyang University, a program where I received a room and tuition-free classes at the Korean university in exchange for tutoring and befriending university students to help them practice English. Since I already feel very comfortable in Korea, I can focus on my teaching skills without having to deal with heavy culture shock from teaching in an unfamiliar country.
I will start this first adventure in April, I will detail the process of hunting for and getting a Korean teaching position in future posts.