The Jungle This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

October 14, 2008
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I stood in front of the classroom like a specimen under the scrutiny of 23 pairs of eyes. The children were hunters on high alert, ready to pounce on any mistake I made. I began stuttering and gave wrong answers for simple math problems, only to be instantly corrected by several smirking students. The rest started murmuring in the background. Yes, they were skillful hunters.

In the summer of 2008, I worked as an assistant teacher at a children’s day camp. I struggled to create weekly lesson plans, pulled apart kids who were clawing at each other, and taught Chinese to students who were novices to the language. Amidst their incessant chattering, the rare moments of silence came only after the teacher’s booming calls for attention. The classroom was a hectic sea of kids running around playing tag, shouting insults at each other, and arguing about who should go first in a game. Every day was a battle between me and these wild little creatures.

What had I become? I was supposed to teach them, and yet I had ­become their terrified subordinate. I had an epiphany one day and realized it was time to do something about this. I was older, more knowledgeable, and most importantly, I had more authority. The next day, I walked into the classroom and stood in the front firmly and calmly. The students curiously studied me, but I did not flinch or stutter. From that day on, they gradually started to pay attention. Some even started calling me “Ms. Amy.”

Seeing a hint of respect in their wild eyes was like getting recognition for my achievements. I was finally acting as an ­authority figure, someone they could look up to. The respect I received also marked a crescendo in my self-confidence. It made me believe that I had the ability to overcome obstacles and command respect. It was a confirmation of my skills and abilities.

One month after my summer job ended, I went back to visit the students. I saw the same hectic room full of kids running around and shouting at each other. However, their playful insults were a different kind of music to my ears now. Instead of the cacophony I heard that first day, this was a unique harmony – the song that played during my march to self-confidence and belief in myself.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 10 comments. Post your own now!

Applex said...
Jul. 14, 2010 at 4:27 pm

Lols, that's so ironic because my friend came about this website and assumed it was me who wrote it. My name is Amy Z. also, and I'm working as a teacher's assistant as well in various Chinese after schools and summer schools(including CPC/CAPA's 244).

I loved your essay and I really can relate. Hahas. Especially the "Ms.Amy" bit. :P

R3iiNA said...
Jul. 13, 2010 at 9:39 am
i dont get it
Mike said...
Dec. 27, 2009 at 1:13 am
Amy! no way..did you work in ocm summers day camp? or cpc? I don't think I know you, but I probably have seen you before. Btw, your essay is beautifully written.
Amy Z. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Dec. 28, 2009 at 2:15 pm
Thanks for your comment!
No, I didn't work at either of those places...
Indder said...
Dec. 21, 2009 at 1:09 am
that was a really nice actually tells us not to give up hope...thanks was really entertaining to read
awesomeaugust This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 5, 2009 at 6:11 pm
I really enjoyed this. I actually was glad that you didn't expand on how the students kept quieter, or how their behavior improved (if it did), because that really doesn't matter- the point I got from this was that you stood your ground until they respected you. Congrats and I'd love for you to comment on some of my writing.
4everluvjc said...
Dec. 5, 2009 at 5:53 pm
That was really good. I wish you expanded on your impact on renewed confidence on the students. Like the students kept quiet, and listened.
But thinking about it, that could contradict your ending with all the cacophony(but not to your ear, anymore) that you found when you returned.
But thumbs up. I am going to imitate this sort of writing.
PoetOfNyx16 said...
Nov. 13, 2009 at 3:23 pm
this is awesome. what i dont get is my sister, who is attending community college here where i live, writes things like this all the time, and she gets a mediocre grade for them. but of course, i am in Highschool so i would get an exemplary if i wrote a paper this dang good. keep on writing like this, you're really good at it!! :D
SallySunshine said...
Aug. 16, 2009 at 6:58 pm
I realize that you are a teenage author, and like me, you'd appreciate a positive and constructive criticism, therefore i am here to tell you that that was the best story ever told, however a little on the boring side. Work on it, will you.
totalbookworm96 said...
May 21, 2009 at 5:55 pm
that is really good!!!
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