In the Adventures in TEFL series, I will be recounting stories from my year in Thailand Teaching English As A Foreign Language (TEFL) to students age 11-16. Applied philosophy is used to take these lessons for utilization outside the classroom.
Shake It Up
After a few months hiatus between semesters, I came back to Bangkok to teach one more semester as an English teacher. Within the first few weeks, I began feeling bored as it seemed the second half of a year as a TEFL teacher would be the same as the first.
In order to mix things up a little bit, I began being a bit more creative in what I did. By this point I had more or less become confident in what I was doing in the classroom which lended me the luxury of experimenting with… less then conventional tactics.
To start with, I personalized the classrooms by adding:
- Custom quote posters
- Maps from around the world
- US state license plates (replicas)
- US, State of Nevada and University of Nevada Flags
- “Mug shots” of students and impromptu certificates
Stand Up And Fight
As I began thinking of how I can change things up. I was confronted by my past fears of seeing myself on camera. A hard truth and a bitter one. Something I really didn’t want to do. I thought back to how in my college communication class, my speeches were recorded and I was expected to watch and write a report with what I thought. I was unable to face my fears then and lied about having watched them.
No more running away.
I made the nerve racking decision to record my lectures and force myself to watch them afterwards no matter how much I cringed.
The execution was fairly straightforward. I had brought a small tripod with me from the States so it was just a matter of setting up my smartphone on it and proceeding as normal. Some of the kids were curious why there was a camera system set up in the back of the classroom but that was about it.
Each lecture recorded I forced myself to watch twice which honestly, when it came down to it, wasn’t that hard.
It was all mountains made out of ant hills.
Afterwards, I wanted to have this “time stamped & on record” that I did this so I uploaded some of the lectures onto YouTube.
With the passage of a few weeks, I got a complaint of how it was against school policy to record and make public classroom activities. And was instructed to cease and desist such activities.
When I decided to be an English teacher for a year, my prime motivation was to validate my self worth through employment. Facing the fear of public speaking was a mere by product.
But recording, seeing myself on camera and learning from the film through a third person lense, that was my own initiative. That is, this was purposefully facing a fear that has hounded me for years.
It was this act that broke open the floodgates of creating online content at volume which continues to this day.
Knock Down the Gatekeeper
What I learned is that a fear is like a clogged funnel. With said clog, the water (your time & energy) are redirected elsewhere. But once that clog (fear) is removed, the water is not only able to flow into that funnel, but all the endless possibilities that lie beyond it.
An example, with seeing myself on camera being a fear conquered, next came a slew of other videos, from kung fu & Muay Thai demos, to right now seeing myself sing (well shout) and play the guitar. As well as being interviewed on a radio show to further spread my truth.
And that is just the beginning, keep in mind this was all within a year. I have decades ahead of me. Which means decades of opportunities made available because one fear was conquered.
Said another way, a fear is a gatekeeper. A gatekeeper whom guards an ocean of dreams & possibilities behind it. Now this gatekeeper is in your way, keeping you confined in a little world.
Get him out of your way.