Image courtesy of Jonas Maaløe Jespersen
Shortly after my 11th birthday, my parents and I visited Disneyland for the first time with some of my cousins. It was a beautiful December morning in California and we spent most of day getting on as many rides as we could. It was late afternoon before my cousin Rick and myself decided we wanted to go on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride by ourselves. We got into the little ‘boat’ (a glorified rail car on a track sitting in water) and took off with an elderly couple joining us in our 4-seat ‘watercraft’. The ride was okay for the most part and we were reaching the end of our journey when the power flickered and then went off. Nothing. A complete blackout. Since we were sitting in a boat running on a track, we came to a complete stop and were surrounded by shallow water. The biggest problem was that there wasn’t a single light source in the entire room. There we sat for over an hour before a rescue canoe came to take us and our companions to the emergency tunnel where our parents waited for us anxiously. We thought it was fun and ended up getting a single-day pass to come back any time we wanted. It was the first time in Disneyland history that the park had to close due to a power failure. The one thing I remember quite clearly from that time in the dark was how disorienting it was. I remember feeling paralysed, unable to do much to fix our situation. We just had to sit there and wait for help to arrive. Continue reading Reorienting
Image courtesy of Christoph Rupprecht
Today marks the beginning of another week of TESL practicum observations for me. While I have enjoyed watching these new ESL teachers starting off their journey, I have to say I am a getting a bit tired. I realize that this is an important step for these trainees, but I feel like this is taking a whole lot more out of me than I had anticipated. It is funny considering that I’m not the one doing the lesson preparation and having to teach the class. I am not entirely sure why it takes so much of my energy, but I think I have a partial reason. I think it is because I care about helping them.
Long ago, I was in their shoes. I remember being that energetic, enthusiastic, nervous-to-the-core, rough-around-the-edges teacher in training. I distinctly remember the disaster of my first class and the not-so-interesting second class. But what I remember the most was the support I received from my TESL instructor, Gail Tiessen. I am so thankful for her. She was kind, firm, direct, and quick to help. Her comments kept me going, thinking, and improving. I am happy to still call her my mentor.
Yesterday, I was in church and the pastor was using the analogy of a pair of oxen being yoked together to work the fields. These oxen would not be able to finish the work on their own. Also, young oxen might not know what is expected of them without the support and guidance of the more experienced oxen by their side. The yoke isn’t there to punish them, or to say they can’t do it, it is there to give them support and guidance.
This analogy got me thinking about how we support and mentor those who don’t have the same amount of experience as ourselves. Continue reading Mentoring