I went to my last class this past Friday expecting my entire class to be present. Well, of the 13 who normally attend, only 5 showed up! I didn’t know how to feel about this. But no matter, I carried on with the lesson. To stay positive, I thought it was great that I could focus more on each individual. We had a lot of fun despite the lack of attendance that day.
The feeling in the room was certainly bittersweet. On one hand, I was happy to have my Fridays back to spend with my little girl, but on the other hand, it was kind of hard for me to leave these special individuals, whom I’ve come to respect and appreciate so much throughout the course of the past seven weeks.
If you remember from my last post when I discussed WorkPlace ESL (http://blog.teslontario.org/workplace-esl/), classes run on average for about 10 weeks. Because they’re so short, you feel like you need to cram everything you possibly know as a teacher into your lessons and pass them on to your learners.
However, a really neat thing that this program offers, (which I didn’t share in the last post), is upon completion of every session, there is a small ceremony held for the students to celebrate their accomplishments. The staff involved join the teacher in congratulating the the students on completing the course. Then, certificates are handed out to each student along with a nice gift. Finally, dessert and fruit are typically served for all to enjoy.
It’s a day both instructor and learner look forward to because it demonstrates how far they’ve come in their knowledge, and it shows the instructor how much value they have added to their students.
But I have to say, I was taken aback when, after handing out all of the certificates and the gifts, one of my students approached the translator and asked him to tell the room that he had something for me! He then handed me a card and inside it read: “Dear Ms. Laila, thank you for teaching me English.
I couldn’t help but get all emotional inside and tear up. You have to understand that the English comprehension level of these students is at the beginning stages of literacy. They did not speak English when I first met them. So, to see the card and what this man had written, was assurance that I had made an impact, and it meant so much to me. In fact, by the end of the 7-week course, they were all able to greet and make small talk with each other! I was humbled yet again by this experience.
I was also overwhelmed with joy and sadness. My motherly instincts kicked in and I couldn’t help but wonder what was going to happen to them now that our time together had come to an end and how they would manage out in the world. Silly, I know, as they are adults after all. But still, I feel how vulnerable they must feel because of their limited use of the English language. Hopefully, they’ll take what they’ve learned from my class, put it into practice, and expand upon it without problems.
The card this student gave me had this very fitting sentence that sums up what we do as a profession, and I thought I’d share it with you. It reads: “It’s the special things that people do for us that make all the difference in our lives.” I’m going to hold on to this card for a long time.
I wish my students all the best in the next few months, and come September, I hope to reunite with them to continue with our lessons where we’d left off.
Have you ever received a special gift or had a moving experience in your teaching career?