In this day and age getting a job, let alone a position which suits you best, has become a scarce commodity. More and more professionals are seeking jobs that meet their needs. However, not many are actually prepared to meet the market needs. This is a harsh reality and it has obviously hit our ELT world.
I have sort of picked up the musical side of my family, my Dad was (still is in my heart a great accordion player) and music to me is what comes through your ears and goes directly to your heart. Yesterday I happened to be working and listening to music and I a song picked up my interest – ‘Lucky That Way’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-UCjiQkLlQ), made famous by Joe Walsh (former Eagles guitarist and songwriter). I am thinking and wondering how he does what he does with ‘style and grace’, to which question he says ‘I am just lucky that way’. I am sorry to contradict Mr Walsh, but I choose to disagree with him as there is a lot more to preparation than luck itself. Oh yes, and he’s darned prepared to do what he does… with style and grace.
According to Scarcella and Oxford (1992) a learner will basically need to develop competences in order to become proficient in an L2 – grammatical competence, socialinguistic competence, discourse competence and strategic competence. Our demanding such competences from our learners to become ‘fully operational’ in English seems to be a really fair game. Yet, it is also true that in order to promote this ‘functional operation’, we are a lot more than cogs in the wheel. In other words, a professional educator should (help me with another modal here) be constantly upgrading and/or acquiring new competences.
I believe that Joe, as we got to know him better now from his song, was not that lucky when leaving the Eagles and needed to get new competences to endeavour on his solo career. Probably the sunshine in California has led him to become more creative when writing songs. It is not by chance that he invited Ringo Starr to play the drums on this song.
That said, creativity is one aspect that we educators must be always looking at. Our capacity does not allow room for tunnel vision. Either being a 121 teacher or working with large groups, this competence is extremely important as innovative ideas will eventually add up to learning. I oftentimes hear people say that thinking outside the box is great. Fair enough, yet getting something from inside our own box is even greater. I was once given a pointer to pick somebody’s brain whenever possible. Little did I know that better than just picking up somebody’s gray mass is the fact of sharing ideas and creativity.
Yes, here comes Joe again. I have no doubt in my mind that had Joe stayed all the time in one place we would have ended up with a couple of songs talking about how hot California is. Much to the contrary, his songwriting has expanded and the lyrics have a more-like global vision rather than a local one. By the same token, we all know that the ELT world is absolutely vast and we are constantly bombarded by information. I am not saying this is a bad thing, however, transforming this massive amount of info into knowledge might be tricky, and then here lies a competence to be learnt. Nowadays, what distance divides, the web unites, consequently, one educator has to float from personal, to local, to regional and global to perceptions.
So, if anybody asks: ‘’Your name, how do you do your teaching? ‘Cuz you do it with style and grace!’’ Well, what a great feeling it is to know you are prepared to shake your head and smile, look them in the eyes and say: ‘’I’m just lucky that way!’’