Categorized | ESL, Expat Life

Making a Difference

Recently I have been involved in a few conversations on making a difference as a teacher.  I think anyone who gets into teaching wants to make a difference in the lives of those they teach.  I know it has a lot to do with why I wanted to teach.  I felt I could have a positive affect on the people I taught.  There is something about seeing a child get something for the first time.  You see the light in their eye when the get the concept, and it’s exciting to know you were the one who taught it to them.   But what happens if you feel you can’t have as great an impact as you would like?

That seems to be the case here in Korea.  I work at a hagwon, or a private school, that is first and foremost a business.  Sure the students would not come back if the school did not have a solid reputation of teaching kids English, but it is a business and it’s run like one.  The hagwon I work for happens to be very successful at both making money, and teaching the students.  However, when that fine line is crossed it is typically in favor of the business side of things.

Does that mean I can’t have a positive influence on the kids I teach?  Of course not.  It does mean that my influence can be lessened for the sake of the business.  I think some of the teachers have a hard time with that.  They don’t understand, or may not want to see, that the school is there as a business first.  I admire anyone who wants to further the education of our youth.  After all, they are the future and a solid educational foundation is needed.  When teaching you can’t lose site of the ultimate goal.  Whether it is in a privately run business or a public school, the goal is to educate.  And that is what the teachers should focus on.  Don’t let the business side have an impact on your teaching.  Focus on what you can do, rather than what you can’t do because of  the business side of things.  Even if you are told what to teach, you can still have an affect on the students education by how you teach them.

I really enjoy my job.  Sure there are days when I feel I could have a bigger impact somewhere else, but once I reevaluate things I understand that I canhave an impact where I’m at.  I have really tried to be an optimist.  Seeing the good, no matter how small it might be, in anything makes for better days in general.  Plus it helps me to get more satisfaction out of my job.  If I continued to dwell on the things I don’t like, I would make myself miserable.  Instead I try to focus on the things I do like.  Besides, the things I generally don’t like I can’t change anyway.  I hope this rubs off on the kids as well.  We already have too many pessimistic people in out world.  We don’t really need anymore.  I always think back to one of my first jobs.  It was a popular restaurant, but the incorporated name of the company was AME Inc.  I was told, and I assume it is true, that the AME stood for Attitude Means Everything.  No matter where you go or where you work, that holds true.  A bad attitude can be infectious in a bad way.

So, don’t sweat the small stuff.

Any thoughts on attitude or favorite quotes/sayings?  I’d love to hear them.


About Eric Bynum
I taught ESL for three years in South Korea and now I am looking to set out on a new journey after just finishing my teaching certification in the US. I hope to continue teaching and traveling and you can follow his journeys here.

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2 Responses to “Making a Difference”

  1. Mom says:

    Bloom where you are planted. Always thought that was good.

  2. admin says:

    I like that one Mom. Allen emailed me one.
    “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
    Winston Churchill


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