Authentic Teacher, Authentic Learners and me

Welcome to the January 2013 Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Authenticity

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by Authentic Parenting and Living Peacefully with Children. This month our participants have written about authenticity through character, emotions, and establishing authentic communication with their children. We hope you enjoy this month’s posts and consider joining us next month when we share about Honesty.


small poppins

The word authentic means “something that has the authority of its original creator. . . The adjective’s original meaning in English was ‘authoritative’; the modern sense ‘genuine’ did not develop fully until the late 18th century.”
–from the Dictionary of Word Origins by John Ayto.

Today, looking through the paper, I came across a help-wanted ad for a teaching position. Hmm, this could be just what I needed, I thought to myself. I could use that extra bit of money and it would only be a few months, 6 at most, until the school year ends. I wonder what happened to the other teacher that he/she didn’t finish out the year.

Then I noticed the name of the school. It happened to be the same school I had worked at 3 years ago and quit before the end of the school year.

Now, I’m not the type of person that just gives up on something, especially teaching. I love to teach. That year I was teaching first grade and it couldn’t have been more delightful. Students are so open and excited to learn at that age. So what happened that I felt there was no other option but to pack up and leave?

The coordinator accused me of incompetence. She said that I did not turn in my lesson plans or complete the activities required in the classroom. It wasn’t true. As it wasn’t the first lie she told about me to the school owners, I knew it wouldn’t be the last and I felt the time had come. I had all my materials moved out 30 minutes after school finished that day. I don’t know this woman’s reasoning, perhaps she was jealous, perhaps she felt insecure about her own English, perhaps she just didn’t like me. Whatever her rationale, from that day on, I refused to continue to give authority to someone who would speak lies about me. So I walked out.

Since then I have discovered or rediscovered passion for my work. I teach ESL students that range in age from 4-75 with a twist. I’m no longer the typical teacher with a certain agenda to plow through. I no longer have to answer to anyone for the number of pages we cover in a day. We play language games, listen to Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends: Poems and Drawings silly ly poems, sing songs, and always have time for a conversation that is only slightly unrelated to the class topic.

As I am teaching English in Central México, not in the United States, I teach my students not just a language but a culture and a way to communicate with persons of that language and culture. It means sometimes explaining the dirty jokes, or correcting pronunciation or grammar, or talking about the history and transformation of the language over time. It’s more than memorizing where to put the verb in the sentence. There are things that just can not be translated and there are things that for which no words are necessary, so we look for alternate ways of communicating together. It doesn’t get much more authentic than that.

And my students learn, as only they can in an authentic language learning setting. They come to class full of excitement, express disappointment that the class hour has finished and look forward to the next lesson. They have learned how to be authentic students as well, something sorely lacking in a traditional classroom. I grant them the authority over their learning and they teach me what it is they need to learn. It’s a win-win situation. This is how it should have been all along.

Instead of taking that traditional job, (although I could use the extra bit of money) I will continue spending my days with my not-so-little anymore son, whose wacky teacher I have always been.

See Also: Learning and Teaching Year 1, Learning and Teaching Year 2, Learning and Teaching Year 3, Learning and Teaching Year 4, Learning and Teaching Year 5, and Authentic Teaching and Learning and me




APBC - Authentic ParentingVisit Living Peacefully with Children and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in next month’s Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon January 25 with all the carnival links.)


Filed under Carnival posts, Education, Teaching

10 responses to “Authentic Teacher, Authentic Learners and me

  1. “There are things that just can not be translated and there are things that for which no words are necessary, so we look for alternate ways of communicating together.” Exactly! It always amazing the teachers in Japanese schools how well the littlest kids can communicate with me. They don’t speak any English, but they have a will and desire to communicate so they find ways. They gesture, mime, draw pictures and they don’t just give up because it’s too hard.


  2. Good on you for following your passion, despite financial strain! I am not that your son appreciates your presence in his life and I know that your students benefit from the energy and love of teaching that you bring!


  3. Your passion for sharing your language skills comes through in your goal of allowing the children to learn in an ‘authentic language setting’. I’ve been reading some John Holt lately, and I love the idea that kids want to learn naturally. It doesn’t have to be in a book and follow an agenda, children learn best in their everyday life, no artificial scenarios required. Awesome.


  4. I too have left jobs as I felt that I could not be my authentic self at work. Good on you for not taking a job just because it would give you more cash, I am sure you will be a happier person for it. I love the sound of your lessons, I am not surprised you have engaged your students.


  5. money is not everything… we have learned that same lesson over the last few years. In going for the big bucks, we can easily loose ourselves and just become more miserable


  6. Pingback: Learning and Teaching Year 5 | Surviving Mexico

  7. Pingback: Learning and Teaching Year 4 | Surviving Mexico

  8. Pingback: Learning and Teaching Year 3 | Surviving Mexico

  9. Pingback: Learning and Teaching Year 2 | Surviving Mexico

  10. Pingback: Learning and Teaching Year 1 | Surviving Mexico

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