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Moment in the Classroom with Worldteach

WorldTeach is a Boston-based program which places college graduates as English teachers in developing countries. When I accepted a 1-year assignment here in Manta, Ecuador, I remember thinking, Teaching? Well there's nothing to it. How difficult could it be?

After nearly a year, I think I've figured out what makes someone effective in front of a class: More than commitment, patience, and knowledge, it seems that a good teacher has to be able to switch gears and take the least obvious road. To have a clear, firm vision but be ready to change in an instant if the situation dictates.

I've got them talking now, Indira telling me what she plans to give her mother for Christmas: a handcrafted necklace from the Sierra. Her speech is direct if not eloquent. We've moved away from the lesson plan entirely, but there's a renewed energy in the room.

I'm not a teacher by profession and I may never teach again after I finish here. But after spending some 17 years slumped behind a desk, I've finally seen the world from another side and I know that my life is much, much richer for it.

I step back and watch my students grapple with words and sentences. Here in this school on a bluff over the Pacific Ocean I watch them and see that we are all learning.

Contact: WorldTeach, One Brattle Square, Suite 550, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA. Tel./Fax: 857.259.6646 ext. 201/857.259.6638; www.worldteach.org.