I taught Spanish and Business for ten years at Pine Valley Central, a little district that borders the one I’m in now. Back in the day, I was able to obtain certification for the position after only 24 credit hours in Spanish. Business, I had to have 36 hours. I entered my Spanish classroom in 1990 clutching my college notes for dear life.
That meant I always felt inadequate in the content. When I finished my course work my professor said, “and now you go to Madrid.” My reply? “What should I do with the 2 year old who lives in my house?” Obviously, I couldn’t leave my daughter and husband for a year abroad.
I loved teaching in every imaginable way, but mostly I just loved my students. I always felt like a fraud, not fluent enough, not good enough. My students did very well on the State exams, but I never got over that feeling that I should be fluent. When I became a principal, it was a relief. I could just focus on the parts of the work that I knew I was good at, without feeling so inadequate.
Now we have the wonders of Facebook and other social media and I’m reconnecting with all of these amazing students who I taught in the nineties and the feedback I get from them is so positive and warm and caring that I wonder, if my Spanish had been perfect would I have been a better teacher?
Cause honestly, I’m thinking no matter how perfect my Spanish had been, my students wouldn’t likely remember any more of it than they do now. But they do remember me and how I treated them, how I listened to them, how I cared about them. We do our best with the content, what’s more important is that we do our best with the kids.