Emotional Factors within TEFL and how to deal with them

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Emotional Factors within TEFL and how to deal with them

Unread post by DrHypnotic66 »

Hi All,

I have been a TEFL teacher in Spain for over 4 years; soon approaching five in total.

I have found teaching in Spain to be very emotionally challenging and I was wondering if any others here have techniques or recommendations on how to cope.

As the term is drawing to a close I must admit already, I am feeling somewhat burned out and this is likely why I am posting this message now.

Here are some of the challenges which I am finding somewhat challenging.

1. Sporadic working hours and different classes

For me this has been one of the most challenging aspects of my own schedule and job. I start my very first class at 8am and work on-and-off until 9pm. I am roughly teaching between 4.5 to 6.5 hours a day and its a mix of in-class and virtual classes. But I am finding the on/off nature of the job very tough. I find it very hard to switch-off during free hours and even when I can, those hours are spent preparing classes. Even Sunday's are consumed with a couple of hours of planning and I feel this is a vicious cycle. Because it feels like Groundhog Day Ad Nauseam.

One other thing I am finding difficult is the fact I do B2, C1 class, Business Classes plus Young Learners and Teens. I'm finding it exceptionally difficult to wear different hats for each class and the planning of classes is very difficult to swap and change. How does one deal with this overwhelming feeling that you're losing your marbles.

2. Feeling personally responsible for Student failure.

I've been teaching CAE AND FCE since I started and have had a very successful candidate pass rate. However, today one of my girls failed her C1, I had warned her of waiting, but she went ahead and booked the exam. She bombed the exam completely. She was good in practice tests, her speaking was fine, her writing even good. But she got a disappointing grade and I always take it personally when they fail.

Each summer I am the same, absolutely worried about students passing or failing.

Overall I have had 100% cambridge pass rate until today. But I have experienced failures with Students preparing local EOI exams and Toefl.... I just can't disconnect from feeling responsible.

3. Spanish Young Learners.

I saw a previous post on this forum about how lacking in discipline Spanish kids are. I teach a a group of 7 year old kids and find them to be very very disrespectful in class and I've got to the point, where I've essentially lost them. One of the problems is that 7 of the 8 kids in this particular class all are in the same class at primary school, they are essentially all friends and this familiarity is exceptionally hard to control. Especially when they are all Beginners in English and don't really understand what I am saying in English. I have spoken to parents in Spanish saying, the kids are too hyper-active, to boisterous. However, the parents seem to not really care, its an hour they don't have the kids and we're essentially a nursery at this point.

Bare in mind, I haven't experienced this with all YL classes, just this one seems to "take the biscuit" so to speak and I have reached my limit.

For the moment, these seem to be the things I am struggling with the most within my job and I am just wondering, how one garners the emotional support and feeling of lost confidence.

All the best,

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Joined: 17 May 2022, 14:09
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Re: Emotional Factors within TEFL and how to deal with them

Unread post by JerryCaller »

Hi! It's a pleasure for me to read this from a teacher! Thank you!
Posts: 20
Joined: 12 Jan 2022, 14:02
Status: Prospective Teacher

Re: Emotional Factors within TEFL and how to deal with them

Unread post by hcb2022 »

Your post made me feel your utter exhaustion. I know that I could not deal with a schedule like yours. It takes me far too long to write lesson plans. I hope that, as I become more experienced, I'll be able to do this more quickly.

I've decided that I will not work with children in a school/classroom setting. I might tutor them individually, but I refuse to deal with class management. I student taught German in a US high school. The regular teacher was a real softie and let the students get away with anything and everything. The second- and third-year German-language students were extraordinarily undisciplined, but the first- and fourth-year students were a pleasure to work with. Mainly I've taught German at the college level, as well as privately to adults. And that's what I intend to do with EFL. I also plan to tutor or teach one-on-one or in very small groups.

Right now, I'm only working with one student. But then again, I just earned my TEFL certification in late March. I have to prepare complete lessons for him, I have no set curriculum, and he doesn't have a textbook. I ask him what he feels he has trouble with and what he'd like to work on, and we go from there. I rely on three EFL grammar books, as well as many online EFL websites that have lesson plans, grammar explanations, and so forth. Even working with just one student is pretty exhausting when you're doing all the lesson planning yourself.

I'd highly recommend considering working as a freelance EFL teacher and working with a much more pleasant age group. I hope that's a possibility. Please do keep us posted.
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