Wrapping up (A song, a recipe and a few more thoughts)
Have you noticed that teachers are very dangerous people? They change our lives forever! Who can resist the magic of an inspiring teacher? I have been talking with my adult students a lot about their favourite teachers and it turned out that almost half of them study or studied the subject of their favourite teacher. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I myself was lured into studying English by my English teacher Ljubica. She taught me for only one year in secondary school but she laid the foundations for my choice of career. I would have probably studied maths if I hadn’t met her! She was, without any doubt, the best teacher I have ever had, native or non-native, in primary, secondary or tertiary education. She was phenomenal. She was Shakespeare of all my teachers, her words were music to my ears, she explained in visions. She had such a way with students. I would best describe it as a multi-level approach, backed up by crystal clear explanations and spiced up by her witty remarks.
What does it take to be a teacher? I don’t think I know the answer completely but frankly, I am much more interested in what it takes to be a Teacher, the one who makes a difference. I will try to come up with something-like-a-recipe from my long teacher-learner experience.
You take a lot of love, mix it with equal amounts of empathy and knowledge.The knowledge for this recipe is best if you can find the perfect balance of knowing what you teach and how to teach it. If you want your teacher ‘really well done’, then you are bound to add some talent, as well. And then, you gradually add experience…. The place where this recipe is served (a classroom) must be full of positive energy, roars of laughter, silences of hard work, buzzing sounds of myriad of voices, periods of intense attention, words of encouragement, some time to have fun and some time to think. (Don’t exaggerate with any of these, your students may have to pay the disbalance)
I would say that the most important ingredient is LOVE. You simply have to love this job in order to do it. Teachers are generally underpaid and arguably overworked and it takes a lot of passion and enthusiasm to do it. Students can unmistakably recognize an enthusiastic teacher when they see one and are always ready to join in. Loving this profession generally means loving your students and only when you care for them and for their needs will you be able to give your best. Hand in hand with love is EMPATHY, the ability to step back from your almighty position in order to see things through their eyes.
KNOWLEDGE is almost like a synonym for teaching, the cause and the consequence. One can’t go without another. It goes without saying that you need to know the language you teach but there is much more than that, you have to know the principles that lie behind your sentences, as you will help people to learn the language, not to acquire it. And of course, you have to know the principles of good teaching practices or methodology. Do you remember the Gambler by Kenny Rogers? For a taste of his whiskey the gambler gave him some good advice. Because I also feel ‘I made my life out of reading people’s faces’ with just a few changes I would try to reduce methodology to just a couple of lines. So this is my modest attempt.
"If you're gonna play the game, boy, ya gotta learn to play it right.
You got to know when to hold on, know when to go on,
Know when to demand high and know when to smile.
You never worry about your lesson plan when you're teachin' in the classroom.
There'll be time enough for worryin' when the class's done.
Every teacher knows that the secret to survivin'
Is knowin' what to throw away and knowing what to keep.
'Cause every student's a winner and every student's a loser,
And the best thing that you can hope for is to make them shine ."
There is one more ingredient that I find very important and that is TALENT. I believe that teaching is an art, and at least some teachers are great artists. It is true that great artists work harder, but what makes them exceptional is their talent. OK, you don`t have to call it talent. I have heard the expression ‘instinctive teaching ability’. I think it pretty much describes the same thing. I honestly wanted to dig deeper into this matter but I just scratched the surface and didn’t find much. I would appreciate if you could share a link or your opinion on this subject.
Well, we reached the end. This blog is definitely not My working week, it is My working life. I had to get this off my chest. Thank you for reading this far.
Would I like to continue teaching Serbian? Honestly, I don’t think so. Not that I would mind next time very much but simply I’d rather spend my time on many other things. Don’t get me wrong, I am not afraid of challenges, and I jump without thinking into new situations, my family and friends know that. The world of teaching is moving on and I want to be well informed about where. I want to continue making friends with technology (we were almost enemies once), I want to attend conferences both live and online, I also want to contribute with a presentation or two. There is a world of challenges ahead of me, waiting for me to take them, I’ ll pass this one of being a native speaker teacher.
(optional – skip if you don’ t like to listen to thank you speeches)
Firstly I’d like to thank my family for putting up with my long hours of not paying attention to them, when I pretended to listen to them but was thinking about ideas for this blog. My thanks also go to my ex-boss who gave me this unique chance to look at the things from a different perspective. I would also like to thank all the moderators and friends from BaW who introduced me in this world of blogging. My special thanks are for my friends and colleagues Rahela and Natasa, who were kind enough to support me when i needed it. Finally, my big thanks to SEETA for being there for us and for this wonderful opportunity to write this blog. And once again, thank you dear readers and friends for reading this to the last line :).