Offensive responsibility: I am a teacher

Teaching.  It’s hard!  Not even hard as it is a huge responsibility.  I swear after just three months of teaching I have more appreciation and understanding of teaching than I ever thought I would have.  I may once in my life have wanted to be a teacher but I was probably about 9 and was like lalala I’m going to be a teacher fun times.  But really I never wanted to be a teacher.  And people who did want to be teachers I didn’t quite understand.  Who really wants to go BACK to grade school or high school? Yeah no thanks.  And while I still would say that I don’t want to be a teacher I at least can understand why people would want to.  You have so. much. power. to change people’s lives.  It’s overwhelming.  I feel like I’m discovering responsibility for the first time.  And I mean real responsibility.  Not the kind of responsibility that you have as a babysitter when you just have to make sure the kids don’t get kidnapped or third degree burns or die or anything—that’s more of a defensive responsibility.  You don’t have to change anything—you just have to make sure nothing changes.  Teaching is offensive responsibility.  If you don’t do what you’re supposed to do other people will get screwed over, maybe for the rest of their lives.

I smile to hide the fact that I don't know what I'm doing

Currently I am wondering… the Madrid province is paying me 1000 net euros a month to teach in their schools- they are paying about 700 of us foreign teachers–while Spain is on the edge of financial disaster, while local teachers are protesting salary cuts and an increase in work hours, while 20% of the 20-something population in Madrid is jobless.  They are paying us, collectively, 7,000,000 euros this year.  These kids that I’m teaching better learn something from me.  And I’ve started giving private lessons, which have been going really well so far.  Let me stop and say—everything has been going really well—the faculty at the high school I’m working at are so friendly, the students are great, the kids I give lessons to are ecstatic to have a tutor from the United States—and I really like it here so far.

But with things like the economy hanging on edge there’s a little bit of desperation in the air and parents desperate for their kids to learn English, to be successful, hoping that they somehow won’t be in the 20% of the jobless.  And I have somehow tied myself into their path towards success.  I have become partially responsible for it.  WHAT AM I DOING?!  I don’t even have a teaching degree!  There are the logistic questions of can someone actually learn English in one or two hours of lessons a week?  Should I be strict or lax?  Do they need a friend or a superior?  I have a friend here, who thoughtfully said, you’re not here to teach them English, you’re here to teach them about life.  But even that is quite a bit to ask.

All in all, I’m not too worried about it, even though I might sound maybe slightly concerned maybe.  I work hard and I do the best I can, the rest is up to them.  But it is amazing the sheer realization of it.  The power and responsibility that one person can have in others’ lives.  Just wanted to share.  Omg and learning all those names.  When I go back to my high school and to William and Mary I will personally thank every teacher/professor I had who remembered my name.

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