Updated: Apr 30
I love being an online ESL (English as a second language) tutor. It not only allows me to help my students improve their English skills, but I can also learn a lot from them.
My students taught me so many important life skills and values. They inspired me to become a better version of myself and to never stop learning and developing as an individual.
Here are 12 of the most valuable lessons my students taught me:
1. To be open-minded
An open-minded teacher-student relationship is essential for creating a positive and productive learning environment. When teachers are open-minded, they are willing to listen to their students' ideas, thoughts, and concerns without judging or dismissing them. They understand that every student has a unique learning style, personality, and cultural background. They are willing to adapt their teaching methods to meet the diverse needs of their students and create a safe and inclusive learning environment. They also recognise that they do not have all the answers and are open to learning from their students' perspectives and experiences.
Being open-minded helps us connect with others and build stronger relationships. When we make an effort to understand where someone else is coming from, we show them that we respect and value their perspective. This can help to break down barriers and build bridges between different communities and individuals.
2. To be respectful at all times
When teachers and students show mutual respect, it builds trust and promotes a healthy and supportive learning atmosphere. A respectful teacher treats their students with dignity and recognises the importance of their thoughts, ideas, and opinions. They create a safe and inclusive learning environment where students feel comfortable expressing themselves, asking questions, and participating in discussions. A respectful student shows appreciation for their teacher's efforts and values their expertise. They listen actively, ask questions, and follow instructions.
Respect is the foundation of any successful and meaningful connection. It is a fundamental component of healthy and fulfilling relationships in our personal and professional lives. Without respect, it's challenging to establish trust, build strong connections, and maintain positive interactions with others.
3. To be patient and understanding
Patience and understanding are crucial when it comes to learning a language or any skill. My students taught me that it takes time to become comfortable in a new language and to fully appreciate all of the nuances. It is also important to recognise that every student learns at their own pace and has unique strengths and challenges. We must take the time to get to know them and understand their learning styles, interests, and backgrounds in order to provide personalised support that meets their individual needs.
When we are patient and understanding with ourselves and others, we create a safe, supportive, and more compassionate, and positive environment. It involves recognising our own and others' strengths and challenges, practising self-compassion and empathy, and cultivating better communication and collaboration. We can create a more fulfilling and harmonious personal and professional life by embracing these qualities.
4. To be resilient
My students showed me that even when faced with challenges, it is possible to persevere and come out on top. Resilience is a critical trait that can help us overcome challenges and achieve our goals.
When we face obstacles and setbacks, it's easy to feel discouraged and overwhelmed. But with resilience, we can bounce back and continue to move forward.
5. To be kind and compassionate
Kindness and compassion are essential for building meaningful and fulfilling relationships, especially across cultural divides.
When we approach others with kindness and compassion, we demonstrate that we care about their feelings, needs, and perspectives. This can help to break down barriers and build bridges between people from different cultures and backgrounds.
6. To stay humble
When we are humble, we acknowledge that we have a lot to learn from others and that we are not infallible. This can help us to be more receptive to feedback and to seek out opportunities for self-improvement and personal growth. Moreover, humility can help us build stronger relationships with others. When we approach others with humility, we demonstrate that we are willing to listen to their perspectives and learn from their experiences. This can help foster trust and respect in our relationships, as well as create a more collaborative and supportive environment.
7. To be supportive
When we offer support and encouragement to others, we show that we care about their well-being. It can also be a powerful way to build trust and respect in our relationships. When we are willing to support others, we demonstrate that we are reliable and that we are committed to their success. This can help foster deeper connections and a greater sense of community in our relationships.
8. To become an attentive and empathetic listener
When we listen attentively and empathetically, we demonstrate that we are interested in and care about the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of others. This can help foster deeper connections and a greater sense of understanding and respect in our personal or professional relationships.
Attentive listening involves focusing our attention fully on the speaker and actively seeking to understand their perspective. This means setting aside our distractions and biases and being fully present in the moment. It also involves asking open-ended questions and clarifying any points of confusion to ensure that we have a clear understanding of the speaker's message.
Empathetic listening involves not only understanding the speaker's perspective but also seeking to feel and experience their emotions. This means putting ourselves in the speaker's shoes and trying to imagine how they are feeling. It also involves responding with compassion and understanding and providing emotional support when needed.
Listening attentively and empathetically can help create a more collaborative and supportive environment where everyone feels valued and heard.
9. To accept that it is okay to make mistakes and not have all the answers
It's important to create a safe and supportive environment where it's okay to make mistakes and ask for help.
Making mistakes is an important part of the learning process. By learning from our mistakes, we can identify the areas that we need to focus on to improve. Mistakes can also help us to develop resilience and persistence, as we learn to pick ourselves up and keep going despite setbacks.
When we create a culture of learning and growth, we encourage others to take risks and try new things, knowing that they won't be judged or criticised for making mistakes. In addition, acknowledging that we don't have all the answers can help us be more open-minded and receptive to new ideas and perspectives. By recognising that there are many different ways of looking at the world, we can be more flexible and adaptable in our thinking, which can help us be more successful in our personal and professional lives.
10. To recognise that we are all unique
Appreciating the unique talents and strengths of each student is a critical aspect of effective teaching and learning. By taking the time to understand each student's strengths, interests, and learning styles, we can tailor our teaching strategies to meet their individual needs and help them to succeed.
Moreover, by recognising and valuing the unique qualities of each student, we can help build their self-esteem and confidence. When students feel seen and appreciated for who they are, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated in the learning process and to take risks and try new things.
11. To be carefree and optimistic
A carefree attitude and optimism are two positive traits that can have a significant impact on our personal and professional lives.
A carefree attitude is characterised by a sense of freedom, spontaneity, and playfulness. When we approach life with a carefree attitude, we are less likely to be weighed down by stress and worry, and more likely to enjoy the moment and find joy in everyday experiences. For instance, students are more likely to enjoy the learning process and discover new insights and perspectives when they have a more carefree attitude. It can also help them to be more creative and innovative, as they are open to new possibilities and willing to take risks.
Optimism is the belief that things will turn out well in the end. When we are optimistic, we approach challenges with a positive attitude, and we are more likely to persevere in the face of obstacles. Optimism can also help us maintain a sense of hope and resilience, even in difficult circumstances.
Combined, a carefree attitude and optimism can help us navigate the ups and downs of life with greater ease and grace. They can help us stay focused on our goals while also finding joy and fulfillment in the present moment. Moreover, these traits can inspire others to believe in themselves and to approach life with a positive attitude, creating a ripple effect of positivity and success in our communities and beyond.
12. To never stop learning
As a teacher, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you are the one who holds all the knowledge and that your role is simply to impart it to your students. However, the truth is that learning is a two-way street, and you can learn just as much from your students as they can learn from you.
Students come from a wide range of backgrounds, cultures, and experiences, and they bring with them a wealth of knowledge, skills, and perspectives that can be incredibly valuable to a teacher. By engaging with your students and actively listening to what they have to say, you can gain new insights into the topics you are teaching, as well as into the world more broadly.
For example, your students may come from different countries and cultures and have unique perspectives on the material you are teaching. By encouraging them to share their experiences and insights, you can gain a richer understanding of the topic and learn how to present it in a way that resonates with a diverse range of learners.
By embracing the idea that learning is a two-way street, you can create a more dynamic and engaging learning environment for both you and your students and foster a culture of curiosity, open-mindedness, and lifelong learning.
My students taught me a lot of valuable lessons and life skills, and I will always be very grateful for the time I spent with them.
Thank you, my dear students, for the many moments of laughter, insight, and growth we have shared. Your unique perspectives, experiences, and ideas have challenged me to think in new ways and broadened my understanding of the world. Let's keep on learning! Let's continue to ask questions, challenge assumptions, and seek out new knowledge and experiences. Remember, learning is a lifelong process, and there is always more to discover, explore, and understand. Enjoy learning!
Watch out for the next post about ‘Living in the UK’ where I share my opinions and feelings about my life here in the UK for the last 4 years. In the meantime, you may also be interested in ‘Travelling and Learning'.
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