Teaching in general and in particular in a cram school, can be a profession where recognition and praise is hard to come by. In my kid's school, I never talk with the parents and the kids don't want to be there and make sure I hear them loud and clear. But every once in a while there are those moments(rare as they might be) that make teaching very rewarding.
Last night was the last of my TOEFL classes with my students. Some of these students I've had in my class for the past six months. The class is generally a lot of fun and I try to infuse humor into my teaching (as I try to do with all aspects of my life). Despite that, it still was incredibly difficult to illicit the students to speak. It was a class of mostly girls and Taiwanese students are a little shy about making a mistake in front of other people. Anyway after class a student came up to me and said that I was a really good teacher, and that her English has improved. Not only that she said, but that her confidence speaking has gotten much better and she just wanted to tell me she was sorry that I was leaving and to tell me thanks.
Stuff like that makes it worth it. The old cliche that you are making a difference, albeit a small one, in some people's lives and helping them improve themselves is really what teaching should be, but unfortunately isn't always about.
As a point of contrast, yesterday I told my kids' class that I was leaving and won't be there for the next two days. They asked which teacher was going to replace me. I said, "teacher Adam" and before I could get the end of his name out they broke out in spontaneous cheers.
"Yeaaaaaaaa Teacher Adam tomorrow"
"Really? I'm so happy Teacher Adam will teach us"
"I love Teacher Adam, he's much better than you"
" He's the best teacher. Better than Teacher Brian" (I overheard this one during their playtime)
Ouch...I'm not too concerned with what an 11 year old Taiwanese kid thinks of me....but still. Damn.
They were giddy the entire rest of the class.
Seriously I've never seen them so happy.