When I was seriously considering an offer to teach in a junior college several years ago, my family (of teachers) was against it. Said my mum, sister, husband, in no particular order:
“A new teacher will have to pull longer hours. You will have less flexibility than a reporting job.”
“The holidays are not worth it; you don’t get to enjoy the full holidays anyway.”
“Interaction with students is over-rated, many don’t appreciate what their teachers do for them.”
I took in their comments and remained as a reporter for several more years.
But since I left ST, I’ve taken on a couple of teaching stints. I’ve taught secondary/JC students short media courses, I’ve taken a class of journalism undergraduates for one semester, and I’ve also done some corporate training – teaching English to adults in a corporate setting.
The corporate training stint was something I thought long and hard about before taking up. I’ve not been formally trained to teach English but had to come up with my own training syllabus based on the organisation’s needs. I was most stressed out about this job before the lessons started and almost regretted taking it up. It has meant week after week of lesson preparation. It has meant I’ve blogged less in the last few months. But four months later, I can safely say, this has been my favourite stint so far.
This group of employees from the organisation’s quality management unit deal with complaints from the public. A LOT of complaints. On all sorts of issues. Their job is to reply emails and take calls politely. Some of them have been with the organisation for many years, and some do not have a good grasp of Grammar or know how to write succinct replies. So in the last four months, we have focused on Grammar rules, using Public Relations skills in replies, as well as going through each of the replies to see how they can be improved.
The group of them in their 30s to 50s, are down-to-earth, enthusiastic, and appreciative of the lessons. They had asked their management for lessons so as to better do their job. I found them very quiet in the first few lessons, and started to think of ways and topics to draw them out. I’m happy to say that by the last lesson, all would frequently volunteer their answers, argue cheerfully with one another about the correct use of Grammar, and confidently question me about things they did not quite understand.
I conducted the last lesson a week ago. I came away with a newfound respect for people who handle public complaints, some of which are rude or downright unreasonable. I admire how they stay calm on the phone with people shouting at them. I take my hat off how they politely reply to each email, even apologising for issues they are not directly responsible for. Their English may not be perfect but you can’t fault them on their professionalism.
Best of all, they’re appreciative of the lessons. I realise it takes very little to make a teacher’s day. A word of thanks, a note about how it is useful to their daily work, and a comment about how they have started using some templates we came up with together. These are all it takes to put a smile on my face. Thank you.