Benefits and Challenges of Being a Volunteer Teacher
"Doing nothing for others is the undoing of ourselves." - Horace Mann
Volunteering is one of the most satisfying human experiences. It gives one a feeling of relevance, of giving freely to those whose live those skills one has will be of an immense benefit too.
A volunteer has been defined by the Business Dictionary as a person that that actively takes on a task, responsibility, or project on his or her own accord without needing to be assigned, ordered, or told to do so. Often a volunteer is not paid for the work that they provide. For example, a volunteer may desire to work at a company's charitable events with or without pay and may even request to do so without being asked or told to.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Isiaka O. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
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A volunteer teacher takes up a vacant teaching spot when necessary. These vacancies are not there by design. They always come based on at least two reasons. Lack of teachers qualified to take up those positions. Lack of sufficient funding for such programs.
In the case of English teaching, It is important to note that the business world is biased towards the English language. This has caused a disadvantage for countries where the language is not spoken officially.
There is also a bigger issue for poorer countries in the sense that they have a more difficult task of attracting talented teachers and native speakers due to their lack of sufficient remuneration packages. This is why there are needs for volunteer teachers.
Volunteering in Ecuador
Ecuador has foundations tasked with sourcing and convincing English teachers (or native speakers) to come in and help in the development of the language in the local schools or language institutions.
Benefits of volunteering
- Gain confidence: For most volunteers, this would be their first experience in teaching. Since they are just volunteers, it gives them time to work long enough without pressure in order to gain confidence.
- Make a difference: Most communities in the bed of volunteers are poor. This signifies that whatever benefits they receive will go a long way to add value to their lives.
- Meet Interesting people: Volunteering can help you meet different kinds of people and make new friends.
- Be part of a community: Volunteering in a community helps you build goodwill quickly. You end up having a new family.
- Learn new skills: If one volunteer in a foreign country, for instance, teaching in English in South America, the probability of picking up the Spanish language is increased.
- Take on a challenge: Communities in need of volunteers often have social issues. Apart from the financial one, a volunteer may have to take on these issues in order to get across to the students.
- Have fun: Well, enjoy yourself to the fullest.
Challenges of Volunteering
The most common problem for volunteers is a disorganized program. Volunteers show up and the event is canceled or over/understaffed. If a program is consistently disorganized, volunteers will quit in discouragement.
Change of personal
- Too much work: When there are not enough volunteers, the available ones will get overworked.
- Boredom: When there are lots of volunteers for teaching positions, the teacher may end up doing meaningless work.
- Being overtaxed emotionally: This has been known to happen if the students involved with, have serious challenges. Getting involved with those challenges could put too much emotional pressure on the teacher.
- Ineffective administrators: Lack of communication from the volunteer manager.
- Negativity from colleagues: Staff and colleagues may not have the kind of zeal like you and may try to discourage one’s interest.
- Lack of appreciation from staff
- Lose of interest in the cause
It is of utmost importance to always remember the reason for taking up the role of a volunteer teacher because, even though the benefits are great for both oneself and humanity in general, the problems are also really enormous enough to change ones’ mind towards the whole idea.
Volunteer teacher needs to always be mindful of the intention for taking up the challenge in the first instance and not allow for doubts to creep in.
Do you want to teach English all over the world?
It is better to opt out entirely, in that instance because any negative feeling well eventually have a spill-over on the good work is done already.
Speak with an ITTT advisor today to put together your personal plan for teaching English abroad!
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