The teacher experience
High school and college teachers can tell you about those revelatory perspective-changing phenomena that sometimes occur in their profession, when a teacher realizes that their pupil has surpassed them in knowledge and skill. The pupil becomes the master and leaves the scholastic nest. I wonder what that’s like? Is it a feeling of satisfaction, or pride, or something else? Maybe depression? As an English teacher in Japan that will never happen to me. No Japanese student will ever surpass me in English fluency or proficiency. They may surpass me in many other fields of knowledge, experience, understanding and accomplishment, but not in English language. The best I hope for is when students say that English is their favorite subject when I ask “What is your favorite school subject?” Of course they might like English whether I am their teacher or not, but I feel like crediting it as a personal accomplishment when I hear it. I’ll have to settle for it.
When I am doing a lesson I am delivering a performance. My lesson is a show. Some important points for me: since I have to be at school for X number of hours I want to enjoy myself. Enjoying myself is rule number one. Moving the students to enjoy themselves is rule number two, so I will try to draw students into the show. Rule number three is functional lessons. If I take lesson materials from a book or from some other teacher I often have to cut them, streamline them and shape them in a manner that I am confident will work, or at least work for me. No use teaching unnecessary vocabulary or idioms, or things that aren’t of demonstrable relevance to the students. If students are to remember vocabulary or grammar then the lesson has to have some function in their lives. If they don’t use it they won’t remember it. I am sometimes amazed at the junk some foreign teachers are trying to teach their Japanese students and simultaneously suspicious of their claims of success.