Last night, I had a pretty long conversation with Curt. He was distraught over difficult business decisions: complaints from parents about teachers (fortunately not about me, at least none reported)… therefore more changes in the employee rolls forthcoming… lost students….
"I don't want to be 원장 [wonjang = hagwon boss] anymore!" he sighed.
He paid me an unexpected complement, then, as I complained, in turn, about my current struggle with reconciling my slow and still painful post-cancer recovery with my ambition, such as it is.
"In the time if have known you, you have shown a strong ability to be reborn," he said. He stood up and demonstratively tapped the Nietzsche quote that is still taped up beside the staffroom door. I'm often surprised and pleased by the philosophical turns our conversations take.
"I reinvent myself," I clarified, perhaps wanting to move away from the religious connotations of being "reborn" that he no doubt wasn't really familiar with in English.
"Yes. You were very different when I first met you." That was in late, 2007, and I worked for him the first time in the spring of 2008.
I didn't feel different…. I don't feel different.
But yes… I reinvent myself, it's true. Constantly.
"So now, I have to reinvent myself again," I finally said, with my own sigh.
"Yes. You can do it."
I will strive to become a better teacher, in my new post-cancer version of the jared.
Here are some ideas from my sixth-grade student Andrea in her recent month-end speech, on how to be a better teacher.
She's the kind of student that I am teaching for – I prefer students like her who have such high standards and expectations. I have titled her speech, "Teach Children with Love and Wisdom" – because that's what she says.