Things That Make Me Smile


Teaching is full of ups and downs: good days and bad days, activities that go exactly as you’d hoped and others that are just plain disaster, students that are motivated and others that couldn’t care less, parents that understand and others that never will… There are days when I wonder why I put so much time and effort into what I do when students don’t seem to care much and parents only want to complain about something.  But there are other days (thankfully!) that completely offset those days of frustration. Sometimes it only takes just one fleeting moment to restore the balance in my teaching universe. The following is a list of things that make me smile and remind me why I do what I do:

–a six-year-old student who hugs me and tells me, ‘I love you!’ in English (there are a few in that class that do this daily!)
–hugs and more hugs from my little ones: they’re showing me that they value me and trust me
–when one of the four-year-olds gets impatient because the other students in front of him are taking too long and he says, ‘Let’s go!’ spontaneously in English
–students who try to ask me questions or tell me something in English without me having to remind them: young learners often don’t see the point in using English when they don’t have to so it’s nice to see them motivated
–when a student offers to help another student: I try to stress collaboration in the classroom and small gestures like this one really make my day
–when a student corrects another in a tactful and helpful way: certainly a special feat for young learners
–a student who normally hands in homework assignments and projects late if at all suddenly has three assignments ready to hand in
–while waiting in the playground before class, watching the five-year-olds invent and organize some sort of ball game: children’s creativity and social skills will never cease to amaze me

Reflection is an important part of teaching. It’s helpful to think back on a class and consider what went well, what needs to be changed and what we should never attempt again. I think we should also include those moments that make us smile. Those are the moments that keep the ups and down in check and make it all worthwhile.

Please share the things that make you smile with the rest of us.

About careymicaela

I've been teaching Young Learners and Very Young Learners for over ten years now. My degrees are in Psychology and Spanish. I also completed my TEFL certification in Madrid and the Ih Young Learners Course in Seville. I enjoy working with children and sharing those experiences with other teachers. In my free time (when that exists!) I like to read, listen to music, practice yoga and go on long cycling routes.
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4 Responses to Things That Make Me Smile

  1. Zhenya says:

    Hi Micaela, thank you for sharing and reminding me how very young learners bring moments of happiness by simply being themselves! I remember that the questions they asked me (in L1 or L2) often made me smile. One example: a 3-year-old is listening to a story in English and suddenly stops me and asks ‘Have you ever been an ape?’ I was almost laughing and started to explain (both in L1 and L2) that yes, there is a theory about how humans developed, about the evolution of species, etc. She listens attentively, and then asks again: ‘No, I mean you personally, have you ever been an ape?’ I think lessons with them is a smiley shower!! Thank you for this post.


  2. Hada Litim says:

    Hi Micaela,
    Your post made me smile.
    Now that I only teach adults, it s a little different but still just as rewarding at times.
    I recently had a beginner student who was extremely shy and clearly not motivated to come to class. I had a couple of private chats with her to try and understand her better. After those, I saw her gradually opening up and showing more interest. She started showing up on time, taking part in group work and sharing answers aloud. It was such a great turn-around.


    • careymicaela says:

      That’s great, Hada! I’m glad you were able to help bring her out of her shell. She’s learning English and improving her social skills at the same time. It’s wonderful when we as teachers can see those changes happening as well as be a part of them. Thanks for sharing your experience. 🙂


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