It might come as a surprise but I have always been dreaming of becoming an English teacher. Once I am now, it gets me into thinking what teaching actually is, what it means to me, what it means or should mean to others.
John Ernst Steinbeck (an American writer, widely known for the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath and the Nobel Prize Winner for Literature) attempted to shape by saying, “A great teacher is a great artist and you know how few great artists there are in the world”. So, is teaching art? Might it even be the greatest of all arts?
Undoubtedly, teaching is somewhat “audience”- oriented which works best when tailored to each individual student’s needs. It is meant for every single body in the classroom, meant for them both as individuals and parts of the big whole. Teaching human beings cannot be done successfully in an assembly line fashion. It works best only as an interactive and evolving process.
Is teaching mere transmission of information and knowledge? Certainly, it is much more than that. Knowledge is only real and permanent if it is the result of students’ own efforts, which is why teachers cannot be mere transmitters to their passively receiving pupils.
Furthermore, it is not only knowledge that our students should take home. It is the ability to think critically, to submit sufficient evidence to support their judgments. Nowadays, regardless of whether we like it or not, we are bombarded with “information” for which no or limited evidence is provided and in many respects we are expected to accept it at face value. But for teachers, who will enable us with this precious opportunity to be independent and critically thinking members of society?
Another thing is that passion and devotion are the keys to make your “audience” return again and again “to give you a standing ovation”. I know I am being rather figurative here, but you are to present yourself as an alpine guide to your class of climbers, rather than as a part of the mountain, which simply means: try to always be the right person at the right place and time. Why? To offer help, encouragement, and to make students feel that, with time and effort, they can succeed.
The truth is that teaching means giving your all during every single class, every single minute after the class, virtually every single minute of your life. It is hard, it is unbearable at times, but it pays dividends in the long run. Naturally, it is not that easy to step into the classroom, forget any private or professional issues on your mind and dedicate all your physical and mental capacities to teaching. But when successful, it works well.
If you once decide on doing a Delta degree, you will by all means understand how really truthful and realistic all these things are, how similar we, experienced teachers (or less experienced teachers who have just embarked on this path), are to skilled prima-ballerinas or world-famous chefs. Feeling thrilled? Intrigued? Join us and no matter how demanding or mind-blowing the process is, you are destined not to regret any single penny spent on it or any single minute devoted to it.
5 thoughts on “Thoughts About Teaching”
I often say that doing the DELTA is a bit like having a clearout. You start with great enthusiasm, pull everything out of all the cupboards and drawers and start sorting through what you want to keep or give to a new home. About halfway through, you get tired and start to feel overwhelmed by the mess on the floor and kind of wish you hadn’t started…but when you’ve finished and the room is transformed it’s all worth it! Good luck and enjoy your course.
What a great metaphor. I am at the stage of being tired and overwhelmed, but I believe I can do it.
I’m sure you can 🙂 Good luck.
Dear Ann, I’m a young certified non-native speaker from Russia which makes things more difficult for me as regards finding a TEFL job abroad. I’ve already grown myself some kind of “shell” protecting me from all the refusals I keep receiving. The saddest thing in this situation is that it’s usually not my qualifications or skills lacking – but a EU passport or being a native speaker. As I understand, you are a non-native too, but you managed to push your way through all the obstacles. What could you advise to a young, motivated EFL teacher keen to travel and grow personally and professionally?
Hi Alla and thanks for commenting here. Perhaps Anna did not notice your comment made quite a while ago while she was working very hard towards her DELTA Dilploma.
I would personally suggest connecting with educators worldwide; creating a Personal Learning Network which is also great for people learning more about you and your skills. These connections sometimes lead to better career opportunities
Blog, comment, go on twitter and join teacher facebook groups and connect with as many teachers as you can