What teachers want

We want to be called teachers.

Although the word educator fits perfectly, I still prefer teacher.  It is the title that is written before my name in my college diploma.  When I graduated from college, it became my identity.  It defines what I do and who I am. Teachers receive an education that is different from other professionals in the field of education. In the Portuguese language, teacher is a title, too, and I intend to keep it. For a long time, though, I tried to make my students simply call me Teresa. It was fruitless. Over the years, I have realized it’s a cultural thing in Brazil. Students address their teachers as teacher no matter what. If you are teaching someone you are a teacher. End of story. I just make sure my students remember my name.

We want our students to let go of the idea that two and two make four

A lot of schools and language schools market their courses as successful stories. They don’t sell homework, exams, or failure. Rather they sell happiness, 100% guaranteed satisfaction and great achievements, as if they could control the outcomes of our students as facts of the world. People will age and die, flowers will blossom in spring, and the sun will rise and set every day, but only God knows how much a child will learn in one class or how long it will take her to master a verb tense. Patience, perseverance, and trial and error are the cornerstone of learning. Sometimes two and two don’t make four even though students are promised that.

 We want to learn

Methods come and go but good teaching stays. Good teachers always go beyond course books, methods and syllabi. They tap into their students’ needs like no one else in a heartbeat.  Good teachers flip things and steer away from the plan just to make the most of a moment. Good teachers do magic and turn lesson plans into real experiences for their students. It is great when we are free to make decisions and to improve. It takes more than a one-day training program to turn teachers into good teachers. Teachers need to share and to seek professional development. I know it can be difficult to strike a balance between commitment to our jobs and self-development, but teachers do need to take courses and attend conferences to become the teachers they are expected to be.

We want parents to trust us

Sometimes I just don’t understand why a student is behaving in a certain way. Sometimes a student misses a lot of classes in a row and I just can’t understand what is going on. Sometimes a child looks sad and has nothing to say. I only wish parents would trust us and let us know if there’s anything that we can do to help. It only takes a phone call or a short visit.  We know that sometimes parents feel too embarrassed to share some stories with us, but it helps to know that a student is going through a tough time at home or at school.

We want to be acknowledged

The best definition for happiness is not wanting a moment to finish. Teaching is my idea of happiness. When I am in the classroom, I don’t want it to finish. I teach because I love it and I love the fact that my institution allows me to be creative and autonomous in my classes, but I also teach for other reasons. I want people to know that I make a difference in their lives. I want people to know that it takes a lot of effort and commitment to do what I do. I want people to tell me how well I am doing my job rather than just give me feedback when I am doing something wrong. Unfortunately, most people only come forward when they want to make a complaint. Once one of my adult students was chosen to be the Valedictorian for our graduation ceremony. Not once did she mention my name during her speech and in case you are wondering, she did not mention her classmates’ names, either. They too had done a wonderful job as a team and I had been her teacher for a whole year and I helped her through exams and assignments.  I thought we were all part of her story. We call our students by their names and it is nice when they say our names, too. Well, I had that odd feeling of being left out. It is something I will never forget. People in general don’t go to the trouble of praising someone’s work, but my disappointment also taught me an important lesson:  I do my best to not leave anyone out in my classes.

Just like other professionals, teachers want a lot of things. And you: What do you want?

Teresa Carvalho

Teresa holds a B.A. in Linguistics from USP and Delta Modules 1 and 2 Certificates. She is a teacher and mentor at Cultura Inglesa - Rio de Janeiro and has presented at webinars and both at local and international Conferences including ABCI and IATEFL. She is now pursuing a Specialization degree in English Language at PUC-Rio. Her passions include teaching, tennis, art, spending time with her family, and traveling.

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