Why become an English teacher? There are thousands of reasons, and of course it differs for everyone. Some people want the adventure of living in a foreign country, some want to learn a new language and culture. Others want to improve their resumes or get into teacher’s college when they return to their own countries. There are as many reasons as there are English teachers. Some of us lucky ones take it a step further. We decide that we don’t want to work for other people and we buy our own English Schools!
Why buy an English school? I can think of only one response: Why not?? You get all of the benefits of teaching and a whole lot more. You don’t have to answer to a boss. You can pick your own hours. The harder you work, the more money you make! And yet, you really don’t have to work that hard. I make more money than I did working for someone else already, after only a year an a half of owning my own business. And I don’t teach as many hours! In another year, I’ll be making more than now! In the last year, while the world has been experiencing a deep and scary recession, my school and other Smith’s schools have grown!! I can’t imagine working for anyone else, ever again! But again, there are as many reasons for deciding to buy a school as there are owners. I’ve talked to many owners, and read about them on Soapbox, and we all have different reasons for buying our Smith’s Schools.
Whatever our reasons, whether we own or own schools or work for someone else, I think we all have one thing in common. There are moments when students say or do something so amazing and so touching that you just know you’re in the greatest job in the world. I have a list in my heart of those moments. All teachers have them; those moments when students let you know in their own way that you have touched their lives. Sometimes it’s with gifts or invitations, sometimes it’s a compliment.
Each student has their own way of letting you know they appreciate you. I have had some amazing students over the years, each with their own amazing stories, but there are two moments that stand out in my mind. The first is a little kindergarten boy, who ran after me on my last day of class, calling, “Sensei, sensei, please wait!!” I turned around and he hugged me a gave a little card that he had made. It said simply, “Please don’t forget me.”
The other moment involves an elementary school student. He was one of those students who makes you work really hard. But no matter how hard I tried, I never felt like I was getting through to him. However, when I was leaving, he gave me a gift. It was a cup from the 100 yen shop (dollar shop). It was obvious that he had picked it out himself, and he presented it to me with such shy pride, that I knew it had been his idea. I have received many gifts, all of which I value, but I treasure that 100 yen cup and that hug and homemade card as highly as I value the most expensive art, pottery or clothing that I have received.
I began thinking of this because one of my students cancelled this week. She wrote me an e-mail and told me she was going to Okinawa with her university classmates and that she was going to bring Yuichi and me back “great Omiyage”. (souvenirs) This same student told me that one of the good things that happened last year was meeting me. She is one of the many students that makes the “list in my heart” grow ever longer.
Why did I become an English teacher and Smith’s School of English owner? Because of the students! They are the ones that make my job worthwhile. They are the ones that keep me going. They are the ones that touch my heart. Thank you to all of my students at Smith’s School of English, Kamishinjo! スミス英会話上新庄校
John C says
My first reaction to your question was: “Well, I’ve met a lot of teachers working for the big English Schools, and they’re generally not a happy lot of people, and I’ve met quite a few SSE owners, and what a satisfied, motivated and, yes, happy bunch”. But as I read on, I must agree, it is the students. I, too, am touched so often by them, and inspired.
You are right, the students are at the core of my job satisfaction.
I too have a list in my heart, and the majority of the items on that list are from my time as an English teacher at Smith’s. Caring for our students comes back to us tenfold! We really are the lucky ones. And I too have not worked as hard since we bought our Smith’s school as I did at any of my previous jobs, yet I am making more money now than ever before. Your words are spot on.
Edward, SSE Ohtsu