Posted by: viaprograms | September 9, 2010

The First Year of Teaching

Dear 朋友们,

It’s been exactly one month since I’ve left you in the Kyrzyg Brigade Hotel. You’ve all gone to your respective posts, unpacked your bags, and have started to make your new homes.

Before you totally forget what we talked about during training, I want to share something with you about teaching.  We had so much fun during the training, I know, and I tried to tell you this.  But as some of you are finding out right about now: teaching is hard.  This is a graph that somebody first showed me when I started teaching in 2003.  These are the “Phases of First Year Teaching” as sketched out by Dr. Mark Littleton and Dr. Pam Littleton.

Does this look familiar?  Do you remember the old “Culture Shock U- Curve”?  It looks like this:

I don’t mean to scare you.  I do mean to remind you that all first year teachers, even those who are not facing the additional challenge of living in a new country/ learning a new language, struggle during their first year.

As you struggle onwards (and upwards!) remember the lesson from these graphs: what you’re doing is not easy, will not be easy, but will become easier.  Remember you’re not alone.  Remember that your life doesn’t have to resemble tidy U-shaped graphs.  And remember the strategies we talked about to help you make the most of this exciting time:

  • Work smart, not hard: You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
  • Help each other: Share lesson plans, share ideas, share stories.  You’re such a dynamic and inspiring group.  I hope you continue to support and inspire each other.
  • Use your resources: Use all the old blogs, wikis, google groups, and the internet; talk to each other, talk to your mentors, talk to me, talk to Patrick.
  • Celebrate daily victories: When reflecting on your classes/ daily experiences, don’t forget to ask yourself: “What went well?”

This last one is crucial, for as hard as teaching gets, the rewards always outweigh the costs.

On that note, thank you for a rewarding training experience.  I couldn’t have done it without you.  Truly.


Ligaya Beebe

(VIA China ’07 – ’09)



  1. And Ligaya, when I’ve been planning lessons to teach at ETTI these first few weeks, I couldn’t have done it without my time in your training class. Thank you. And overall, so far (*fingers crossed*) it is going okay.

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