I believe that teaching is an art form that many do but few master, which might suggest that I am somewhat conceited and contrived. Far from it, I do not consider myself anything close to even getting a glimpse of mastery. However, I do expect myself to work towards the goal of becoming a better and better teacher. I suppose the defining mark of a good teacher is someone who acknowledges their flaws and yet continues to persevere and refine themselves through courses, conferences, sharing of best practices, or personal reading.
One can never know what one is made of until one is tested. The skills of persuasion, adaptability, and multitasking, and grit required in teaching are unparalleled in any other profession. This is why teaching is the most important and most challenging yet underappreciated vocation of our time. Under such high pressure are precious metals and diamonds formed. If one can indeed become a good teacher, one can become good at anything: a good leader, entrepreneur, or even a politician. If one can become good at anything, imagine the students who develop under one’s influence.
As a teacher, my main priority is my students. This does not mean that I am a coddler or an entertainer, although being able to do both does add value. Making them a priority means that I have high expectations for each and every one of them. I will perform a needs analysis and a diagnostic quiz. I want to find out what the students want as well as what they need to progress to the next level of proficiency and achieve their goals.
Together with the students, we will specify achievement goals based on the curriculum’s standards, the centers standards or an international standard like the CEFR standards. All of this will be informed by the need for comprehensible input as prescribed by Krashen and Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development. This means that my classes will feel challenging and students may struggle somewhat. However, I will communicate clearly with my students that struggling is positive and a natural part of the learning process. We are on the same team and I want to help them succeed in their personal or professional aspirations.
I might sound autocratic and goal-driven, but I care a lot about my students and I strive to make my classroom a relaxed environment where mistakes are allowed. Everybody is a learner and everybody makes mistakes, including myself. As much as I am willing to correct my students, I am willing to be corrected. As much as I expect my students to learn from me, I expect to learn from them. Most of my lessons will be communicative, where students will be engaged in lively student-student or student-teacher discussions, or creative problem-solving as defined in the Higher Order Thinking Skills based on Bloom’s Taxonomy. Additionally, there will be times when controlled-practice is necessary. I have tried tasks, like Inner Outer Circle and Round Robin Stories, to make controlled-practice as interesting, meaningful, and useful as possible.
My lessons have always been content-based revolving around language skills: Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing, and Grammar. I have adapted course materials to a level slightly higher than the level of my students so that there is always an opportunity to grow and learn something new in every lesson. As a proficient native-like speaker of English, I wish to develop the same proficiency in my students. For a beginner or intermediate class, I will first build their confidence and fluency. Once I find that they are comfortable with each other and with me, I will begin to provide them with corrective feedback which is essential for unlearning misconceptions and developing a native-like pronunciation. Advanced classes will receive even more feedback.
During every moment of every lesson, I have observed and assessed my students to find out how much they have learned and whether more attention or instruction is required. I will employ both summative and formative assessments for my classes as both offer unique learning opportunities. I have also tried to be as interesting, meaningful, and useful as possible with my summative assessments. I have employed multimodalities like poster sessions, gallery walks, and also social media, like blogs, Instagram, and Facebook. Besides, the second best way to learn is by testing oneself, which is one way for students to learn how to learn.
Being a fan and user of technology myself, I am perfectly capable of putting technology to pedagogic use. However, I understand that a piece of tech can never replace the authenticity, ingenuity, and intuition of a thoughtful and feeling human being. I have and will continue to engage social and digital natives where there are at, using their fluency and preferences in technology to enhance their learning and make it more relevant to them.
The best way to learn is to teach. Every student in my class has a unique identity and background. I celebrate diversity in my classes and seek to build a safe setting for them to feel comfortable being themselves and to learn about each other. During my lessons, I have asked students from different cultures to share the beauty of their cultures. I have also been very careful with my pronouns in consideration of the LGBTQ community. I have deliberately diversified the activities in my lessons to cater to multiple intelligences and learning styles. I have also celebrated the emergence of World Englises as defined by Krashu by learning and using some key terms from my students’ languages. My hope is that my students will possess a diverse group of friends and, within themselves, tear down walls and build bridges.
I began my teaching career in the middle of a jungle where the teacher was the bastion of knowledge, and the entire community wholeheartedly entrusted the teacher with imparting knowledge to the younger generation and intellectually enriching the community. I have felt the indescribable satisfaction of knowing that everything that my students have achieved was because of me and I have also felt the humbling power of shaping hundreds of minds completely surrendered and entrusted to me. I know what it is like to change lives and make a difference. It has changed me and, now, it drives me. I want to be a teacher that is of benefit to the community that I am placed in, regardless of wherever I am at.
If you're interested in hiring me or collaborating with me, feel free to contact me. =)