Teacher or Lawyer?
They say that you have to be at the right time at the right place. Besides that, they say that some people affect your life to a greater extent than the others and the same applies to teachers. I have had a plenty of teachers in my life, most of them were professional, the others at least pretended to be. However, none of those teachers cared about me, cared about what I am good at. The only thing that mattered to them was if I had memorized the content from their previous class. Eventually, the school became annoying, and I ended up trying to come up with different excuses to be able to skip it. And it went on like that for many years, until I finished my secondary school. And then I met a teacher who changed my life. Originally, I wanted to be a lawyer. Why? Because, neither I had any idea what I wanted to be nor what I was good at. And as my brother was studying to become a lawyer, it seemed like a perfect job for me, too. Anyway, I failed the entrance exams and applied for a one-year study of Public Relations at a private Academy of Education. There I met the teacher who changed my life. We had English classes five times a week for 4 hours every day, and he made me fall in love with teaching. He was the first teacher who made learning fun, who showed us that there can be joy in learning and that the learning process does not necessarily have to be painful and boring. We listened to songs, we played games, we discussed the news. In addition to that, he encouraged us, and that was precisely what I needed. Encouragement, someone telling me that I am doing well. And then, it hit me: ‘This is a fantastic job, I want to be an English teacher.` I started teaching when I was 19 years old, it was very stressful and challenging at the start and sometimes it still is. It has been 14 years since then, and I can say that I am a very lucky person because I love my job.
During those years I have learned a bunch of things which I would like to share with you:
1) Be original! Learning should be engaging and creative.
2) Be a leader! Students don´t only need a teacher, but also a leader. Someone who can help them find their way of learning. Show them different approaches so that they can figure out which fits them best.
3) Be friendly! You need to be professional. Certainly, you do. But don´t forget to be friendly! There is nothing bad about being professional and friendly at the same time. If you share things with your students such as your ideas, experiences, you show them that you are a human being as well. This way they will accept you more, and they will become more engaged in your classes.
4) Be curious! Don´t forget that your students have lots of experience in their lives, take advantage of that and use it in your classes.
5) Be empathetic! A good teacher needs to be a good psychologist at the same time, try to understand your students, be their supporter, be there for them.
6) Be encouraging! Praise your students, tell them when they do something well, praise them as often as possible and don´t let them give up. Some of them learn faster, some of them learn slower but eventually, all of them are going to learn. Try to avoid criticism, it is the worst form of help. Instead, appreciate their effort and give tips and hints for improvement.
7) Be attentive! Help them find out what they are good at.
8) Know where your students are going. Are they making any progress?
9) Let them speak! Don´t teach English by memorizing, learning a language requires experimenting with it, trying it out. Practice makes the master! The more students speak, the more fluent and confident they will become.
10) And most importantly, have fun! Enjoy what you are doing!