Terror /ˈtɛr ər/: noun; intense, sharp, overmastering fear

If a person could live in terror for one specific thing, one thing that though you’ve experienced it a few times already, it still knocks you back on your butt before you’ve even managed to find solid ground beneath your feet, then that person is me. I haven’t posted in two weeks. 죄송합니다 (“I’m sorry” sounds better in Korean.). I’ve moved to Chicago for a month to do my CELTA, and the first week was torture. In five days, I’ve already taught three times and have written a paper. If that doesn’t convince you of how intense this course is, let me put it this way. I slept 18 hours in 5 nights. That’s not very many hours.

My terror did not stem from sleepless nights or attending class and meeting new people. No, it came from one small, insignificant thing—teaching. Of course, I knew what I was in for when I signed up for this course. But somewhere down the line, it didn’t occur to me that I would be teaching my second day (when I’ve never taught before) and then the third, and then the fifth days. I’ve taught an hour and forty minutes. I have another four hours and twenty minutes left to go before I earn my certificate. You’d think it’d be better. But it’s not. The terror lingers.

Is it terror of standing in front of students? No, but that’s what my tutor seems to think. Is it terror because I’ll forget what I’m teaching? No. It’s terror from being assessed by my tutor and five other teacher trainees. I’ve never liked public speaking, but that’s nothing compared to how much I loathe knowing and seeing someone “assess” me. That’s just a kind of way of saying “grading,” isn’t it? We all know that, and therein lies the terror. She tells us to ignore her. Teach as if she’s not there. For someone like me, that’s nearly impossible when she’s sitting directly in front of me, albeit in the back of the room, scribbling away notes on my lesson plan and her random bits of paper.

It's not up to this scale.Then there’s the Inquisition. Literally, she calls it the Inquisition. The other trainers and I have termed it Inquisition Time. It’s not clever or witty, but it gets the point across effectively. We sit in two rows, facing each other. Those who observed face those who taught. And then the observers tell the teachers what they thought, good and bad, although it seems the bad outweighs the good every time. I’ll get used to it. Eventually.

The morning of my second day teaching my tutor handed out a sheet of tips from one of the Cambridge assessors. The first tip said, “Keep the course in proportion.” As in, don’t cry. Don’t stay up all night working. I was guilty of both of those the night before. It seemed alright then, after reading that tip sheet. It seemed that it was ok if I wasn’t perfect because that’s what they’re supposed to do—teach me how to teach. But I can’t help but want to be perfect right away, so I’ll have to figure out how to calm that desire. I was so exhausted come Friday that I hardly cared that I had to teach because I could barely walk in a straight line to school. It was my best day teaching so far. I was also jittery and shaking all day because of exhaustion. I got home at 6:15, tried to eat dinner but only made it about three bites in, when I laid down and slept from 7PM until 10:30 the next morning.

I don’t want to do that again this week. Maybe I should splurge every day and watch an episode of Return of Iljimae. He’s got a lot more problems than my terror of an assessor assessing me.


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