The Role of the Teacher

Being a WorldTeach volunteer doesn't just mean you are responsible for teaching your students English. Our teachers work in schools with local professionals and are therefore part of a network of teachers and educators. How you and your supervisors define your role within the school varies from location to location. Colleen, a WorldTeach Panama volunteer, describes her role in the classroom and how it deviates from what she thought was the "typical" teacher experience. 

I am team-teaching with a Panamanian English teacher to various groups of 6th grade classes. Things are going pretty well so far, although it's still the first week and my responsibilities are still being established. Right now that plan is that I will fully lead at least one of the five classroom hours each class has per week and the rest of the time assisting with what Rodolfo (my Pana Teacher counterpart) calls "regular English class".

I suspect that learning how to lead classes and get the students to see me as an authority figure without stepping on toes (after all, I am a guest in someone else's classroom) will be a constant negotiation throughout the year, as will recognizing ways to maximize my teaching role and assist as many students as much as possible. One nice thing is that since this is the program's first year, there is no precedent of what we (the WorldTeach volunteers) are supposed to be doing, so I foresee our roles as being somewhat flexible throughout the year and changes can be made as needed in response to what does and doesn't work, especially since everyone I've had contact with at school seems open to suggestion and considering new ideas- a pretty lucky situation, since this isn't always the case in a lot of schools.

While it's definitely weird to not be in charge all the time and have my own classroom, it's also kind of nice because it means that less of my time and energy will be dedicated to lesson planning and preparation meaning... after my classes are done around noon... I have a LOT of the day left! I hope to get involved in a few community involvement opportunities that have caught my interest. 

Interested in finding out more about teaching in Panama? Click here.

Applications will be accepted for the Panama year and semester programs until December 1, 2011!

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