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  • Eric Young

A Summer of Teaching in Taipei

I had an amazing time spending my summer teaching at an educational firm in Taipei, Taiwan. This was my first experience teaching a larger class and though challenging at first, my teaching abilities improved tremendously.

Summer is not only a time to rest up and have fun, but also a time for personal growth. When I was invited to return to the educational firm I part-timed as a 1-on-1 ACT tutor / college consultant the summer after graduating from high school, I accepted the offer happily. This time I was given a bigger challenge — teach a 6-person comprehensive SAT class. I was in charge of teaching all 4 sections of the test: Math, Evidence-Based Reading, Writing, and the (optional) Essay. In addition to teaching at this educational firm, I privately tutored two students Calculus and English (respectively) and part-timed as a software engineering intern for a medical device start-up, where I created relevant data visualizations using Python software.

What a Typical Day Looks Like

I would usually wake up around 7:30 AM, get ready, eat warm Taiwanese breakfast, and take the metro (MRT) to my student's apartment in Tianmu. If I get there before 9 AM, I would review the important concepts and exercises I am planning to teach that session. After the tutoring session, I would head back to the city center, where the firm I taught at is located. Following a quick lunch break, I would head into the classroom and prepare for the 3-hour long lesson (3-6 PM). At night, I would work on my start-up projects and hang out with my friends in Taipei if I have time.

My Three Takeaways

1. Addressing Individual Needs

One of the primary challenges I faced teaching the SAT class was having students with different skill levels and different learning needs. Throughout dozens of classes, I slowly learned to accommodate and adjust my teaching methods to maximize my positive impact on each individual student. For instance, when I noticed a student, who was fairly behind the rest of the class in terms of math section mock-test results, was missing problems that I knew he understood how to solve, I asked him to directly show me his work while the other students were away so he wouldn't feel singled out. Realizing that his show-work method often misled him to incorrect results, I was able to work with him on re-framing his math-solving habits, which contributed to helping him improve more than 300 points by the end of the class.

2. Staying Engaging Throughout the Class

Before this summer, I've never taught a 3-hour long class. I initially struggled with writing on a white board and projecting my voice for 3 hours. However, after slowly gaining more and more experience throughout the classes, I learned how to ask open-ended questions, assign purposeful group exercises, and foster an engaging learning environment where my students felt comfortable asking questions and discussing about the content taught with each other. Teaching didn't feel like a chore. Instead, I thoroughly enjoyed how I was able to learn from my students as much as they learn from me.

3. Creating Meaningful Relationships

Perhaps the most rewarding part of teaching this summer is being able to create meaningful and long-lasting relationships with my students. Since my age is very close to the ages of my students, I was able to connect with them easily. Throughout the summer I would treat my students out to lunch, play basketball, and hang out with them outside of class. It's heartwarming to see one of my students, a local Taiwanese student who had not much English background, get in Boston University and has become an English tutor herself. It makes me smile when get messages from my students every now and then asking about how I am. I'm also glad to be able to help my past students on their Duke admissions essays (fingers crossed that they get in).

Overall, I had a busy summer where I got to teach, learn, and grow. The best part of the whole experience was the fulfillment of making tangible positive impacts on people who I care about!

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