Back home in Gilbert, Arizona, all 6th graders are required to do a report on a different country. When my 6th grade sister, Andie, decided to do her report on Spain, the country where I studied abroad a few years ago, I was so excited to share what I knew with her. I told her all about the geography of Spain, listed some of the important tourist sites, and, of course, went into great detail about the food. Andie dutifully took notes as I went on and on about the country I had grown to love, and I sent her on her way, happy I could enlighten the world with my vast amounts of Spanish knowledge.
Fast forward a few weeks to a conversation I had with my mom. She had gone to Andie’s country report presentation and told me all about it. It turns out my little sister is quite the public speaker—poised, eloquent, and maybe even the tiniest bit sassy (something she definitely learned from yours truly). After she presented her information, the class was encouraged to ask Andie questions about what she had just presented. One of the boys in her class (being a true boy) was fascinated with the bull fights and how they worked. Apparently Andie, with no notes in front of her, proceeded to explain the brutality of bull fights, the various stages involved during a fight, and the controversy surrounding this historic tradition. My mom and I were both shocked. Yes, I had loaded Andie with all this information when we had talked, but I had no idea that she had actually been listening! Apparently, she had found value in what I had to share with her.
As an English teaching major, I often wonder if my future students will appreciate what I have to share with them. When I tell my friends that I plan to teach English, I generally get stories about how much they hated English or how useless it was in high school. I’m sure this is a common occurrence for future teachers of any subject, and sometimes I wonder if anything I do will actually make a difference—how can I avoid making students feel like the year they spend in my classroom is just a waste of time?
Although I have these worries, my experience with Andie gave me hope. At the time, it seemed like all Andie wanted was the minimum information—to jot down the required notes and be done with it. But because I went beyond what was required and shared something I was passionate about, she too became excited and internalized what we had discussed. Maybe as a teacher, I can make my students see the value in what I teach and create a few more English enthusiasts.