（Contributed by Sylwia）
I had my first experience teaching in 2012, when I moved to Seoul, South Korea. After finished my TESOL Certificate, I applied to the EPIK program and started teaching middle school boys in August. Even though I had studied teaching ESL for a year prior, this small middle school is really where it all began. Professional programs teach you a lot about pedagogical practice – techniques and strategies, classroom management, how to lesson plan, curriculum expectations. But, it was only in the classroom, where I realized what it meant to be a teacher.
Throughout my time at that middle school, I had a lot of challenging moments and a lot of really fun moments. Overall, it was one of the best experiences of my life and it made me really want to become a teacher. There was one moment that really made me think about the learning-teaching process and the teacher-student relationship. After the end of the first semester, I was teaching an English winter camp with a small handful of students. There was one student in my class, about 15 years-old. The student and I did not get along the first class we had. However, over time, we had overcome this initial hurdle and began forming a real relationship. One day, during class, we were taking up some answers to an activity and looking up, I caught the eye of this student. It took me aback a little because I saw complete vulnerability in his eyes. It made me really contemplate the position I was in, as a teacher in this student’s life. I realized that he had expectations of me – not just to teach him how to speak English, but to be a present and responsible adult figure in his life. I realized that, as a teacher, I am responsible to my students to create safe, engaging and constructive learning environments. I am duty-bound to be encouraging, kind and respectful. I am duty-bound to challenge my students, ensure they understand the learning material, and create life-long confident learners. These moments can only be learned when you’re actually in the classroom.