Autoethnography

            When I look back to my school life, I see that I have so many positive and negative memories that probably affected my decisions. Among them, the first memory that I could say is the one from Elementary school. I studied in a Public School which was the best and the biggest in my neighborhood. As other public schools, our classes were so crowded that three students would share one desk. We would hardly put our textbooks and write comfortably. The reason of this crowded was that parents generally preferred that school for their kids. As a result of the crowdedness, school had really discipline issues with at and out of school gangs. Almost every day we would see a fight among boys or student-teacher arguments. There were so many factors that turned school to a social place for students rather than a learning place. Teachers were so depressive and unwilling to teach new topics. They would just want us to read chapters of the book and memorize them for exams. Lessons were so boring and ordinary that students would play cards in front of the teacher. No one was complaining about this situation because the only thing that they wanted was to pass exams and to graduate no matter how the lesson went.

            During that time, I would always observe my teachers and especially admin to see how they would manage the classroom and take problematic situations under control. If they were more professional or willing to develop our school, it would have been more different for us. If they had provided a better learning environment, a safe place and a beneficial classroom for us, we would have enhanced our personality and social skills better while learning courses we needed. My school life was not the reason for me to choose this profession but the important effect which shaped my behaviors when I became a teacher. 

             I am the oldest one of 2 sisters. My father is a math professor and has been working for 15 years as a principal of a private college in Istanbul. I come from a family in which almost 1 in 4 works in teaching field. Education is very important and the only one tool for my family. My parents have always been so supportive and helpful during my education life with my sister. However, this is not the reason why I have chosen teaching field. When I look back to my memories from Elementary school, I completely remember the time my teacher gave me the math question to show my father. My father was known the best math teacher in Istanbul during that time. Our home had always been full of students who came for private tutoring after school. My father was so enthusiastic to teach every single student even if he couldn’t spend much time for his family and himself. One day, my teacher gave me a paper full of math questions and asked me to give my father if he could solve them for him. The more he could, the more my teacher kept sending him questions. The reason why my teacher was sending questions was that he wanted to learn different methods from him. Each time my teacher asked me to give a paper to him, I was so proud of my father. In that time I didn’t know that this memory would help me to find my way and to determine how a teacher should be. Years later, I understand that even a small memory has a huge affect on our decisions and our lives.

                    The main reason of my choice to be a teacher has always been my lovely English teacher at Elementary School. She was so friendly and educated person in her field that I would love to listen and study more to show my abilities in English to her. In Public Schools in my country, second language education is very poor and not affective. Because of not having new materials and opportunities, she had to use other strategies to engage us in classroom and to develop our skills in learning other languages. I was so interested in learning English that she would try more to keep my anxiety at the same level.

            One day, she was teaching the difference between British and American English. She brought a list of words from each of them and told us a story. In classroom we were separated into two groups to present two different accents in a story.  The way she was teaching those words were so affective and easily-remembered that I never forgot them. The reason why I am telling this story is that I have always appreciated my teacher for her effort and support to help us learn something and develop our abilities in that poor school circumstances. I still meet her whenever I need her experiences or thoughts. I believe that she is the best example of successful teachers that I want to be in the future.

           When I entered the University, everyone around me was asking me why I chose Spanish to study major. They all thought that it was not a good major to study on. I explained so many times even to my parents that I was interested in languages and wanted to work in that field. As our language is different than other languages, we always have to learn a second language. However, when it comes to job selection, no one wants his child to study on a language. It is a common thought that study music, language and social science won’t help you to earn good money to survive. At that time, I was getting so angry when someone asked me why. According to the general belief, I would never have a wealthy future if I continued that way. What was I going to be when I graduated from college with Spanish major? Was I able to work at least in a company with low salary or going to be a housewife with college diploma? I knew that these questions were going back and front in my parents’ mind. Feeling lonely on that way made me stronger. I had so many expectations and hope that could increase my success in college. No matter what people thought, I was prepared to the things I was going to face with.

               After graduation from college, I started to work as a Spanish teacher in a private school. That time questions were different. They would ask me again if I earned enough money to maintain my life or not. I truly know that it is hard to change people’s thoughts. Being a teacher meant to be a less intelligent person who struggles to work in a better job. Even if teachers are so valued in my culture, people don’t prefer their children to become a teacher. I worked hard to show them that I could be a teacher while earning good money. After school, I did private tutoring, worked in weekend courses, and participated in seminars to learn something more. I determined to be a good teacher and keep working in this field no matter what people thought. It was a tough and long way for me but I think I managed.

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