The Joy of Teaching

In the cartoons I watched as a child, when someone had an idea or finally understood something, a light bulb would go off over their head. It was a metaphor for a person who struggled in the darkness of ignorance to finally understand what was happening as they saw with a light. Have you ever watched the light bulb go off over someone’s head?

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That “light bulb moment” is one of the greatest moments between a teacher and student. My wife, who taught fourth-graders, has countless stories of students who struggled with a difficult concept. When she tells me about students understanding complex fractions, her eyes light up and the lilt in her voice tells me more about the teacher than the students. It’s the joy of teaching. I have had the pleasure of numerous “light bulb moments” over the years with Overcome the Barrier. Let me share a couple of them with you.

Alexey worked in Novosibirsk, Russia. If you don’t know, that is in Siberia. We had many discussions about the definition of cold. I defined it as anything below +10 Celsius. He defined it as weather below -10 Celsius. That is a 20-degree difference. When I called it a “latitude attitude”, he thought for a moment and burst into laughter. He understood the rhyme and the joke. The light bulb was shining brightly. A month after our final lesson, Alexey asked if I could Skype for a few minutes. He thanked me for all my help. He had returned from a European business trip where he had many opportunities to speak English and understood everyone. Alexey was proud of his radically improved English. Every teacher loves to see the joy in the eyes of a student who understands.

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

Another student was Anna. She lived in Russia and was one of those students you dream about. She took constant notes, asked excellent questions, used new words and techniques. I learned as much from her as she learned from me. She sent me a message last October. We had just concluded our lessons two weeks before. She texted me from Dubai! Anna’s message said: “Hi Doug! I’d like to say thank you! Everybody here noted my English. They say it is surprisingly perfect. Thank you!” The joy of learning and teaching was embodied in those words on WhatsApp.

I could go on and on about students from Japan, Columbia, Spain, and all over the world. Each teacher has an opportunity to share their knowledge, their passion, their joy of teaching with students from places they have never seen. That is why I do what I do. It is all about the joy of teaching in those ‘light bulb moments” while exploring the world and meeting new people, all from the mountains of East Tennessee.

Do you have some stories about your students? Are you a student who has stories about your teacher? Feel free to share them in the comments section below. We’d love to hear all about them.

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