You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
– Jim Rohn
Every year, my school gets new teachers – both Korean teachers and foreign teachers – and every year, things change.
Every year is different.
No year is ever a predictor of what the next one will be like.
And yes, I’ve signed up for another year, based on how much better things were for me last year than they were when I was at this school before.
Though what guarantees do I have?
The legacy of those who have been here before
Due to my history with my school, I know why certain things are as they are, and who is the originator of these things. What methods and expressions have I learnt from the teachers I have worked with before? What are others learning from me, not knowing that they are (perhaps poor) imitations of others?
For instance, there are nicknames and jokes that are now being used and absorbed by the new teachers that my coworkers and I don’t realise need explanation. There are verbal habits that I’ve picked up from teachers who are now gone. There are teaching methods, tips and tricks that they spoke about and that I then adapted for my own classes that I now suggest to others.
Every person who passes through those halls leaves parts of themselves behind, and this is something that I currently find fascinating. Especially as it affects the way that things are done now.
Knowing why something is done- and not just going along with it because that’s how it is – seems to be a crucial part of making it better. I know the foundations of certain situations and once those foundations are exposed, I can better explain why a thing needs to change. Or, perhaps, why it shouldn’t change.
But does this matter?
Some people like to walk into a place or position and change things simply for the sake of changing them. This – it would seem – is the nature of the working world.
But there is a legacy now of teachers who once stood in my shoes. Some of them accepted bad changes or kept things the way they were because they didn’t feel like they had the power or authority to have their say.
And there were those who did not.
If I have learnt nothing else in the last year, it is that I am able to have my say. And that this is not wrong or unreasonable of me, and that it can be done (contrary to some lifelong lessons I’ve had to unlearn) without being unpleasant, or being a doormat.
This matters because I feel like this is a lesson I ought to have learnt long ago.
This matters because, however long it took me learn this, it is something I’m happy to finally understand.
So what happens now?
A new academic year, with a host of new changes that make some things harder and some things easier, has finally begun. Teachers have left and new teachers have arrived. Things – it feels – are finally in full swing.
And what happens now is anyone’s guess.
But I have learnt an important thing – I have a say in what happens, and I will shape this year as much as I can. And this is what is different.