Follow the yellow brick road: building a career in ELT

We all start teaching for different reasons and we keep teaching for even more diverse reasons sometimes. Besides, each of us will encounter a unique variety of professionals that will inspire us to be greater and others that may help us question our career choices. There seems to be no yellow brick road to follow, but perhaps a plethora of yellow brick roads to choose from, with no right or wrong answer, except that you need to enjoy the journey and aim at your own version of ‘Oz’.

The other day I was talking to a very successful ELT professional whose talents opened doors in teacher training. She declared that she didn’t feel successful or fulfilled as a trainer, but was afraid that taking a step back to teach kids full time may impact future opportunities depending on how her choice was perceived by her superiors. Later she concluded that her satisfaction would eventually affect the quality of her work and bravely stepped back from training. Teaching kids would be her contribution to the world of education.

Throughout our professional life we will undoubtedly be faced with choices, opportunities or paths that will help us pave our career. Whatever the choice, it takes courage to move, to change, to pursue goals, to stand up for values. Whether teachers decide or not to embark on different areas of ELT such as training, management or publishing, they will all be building a unique career if they make choices based on their beliefs, goals and values. What may not be that positive is to follow someone else’s brick road without passion or a personal and professional goal.

However, in many cases, looking up to someone who has achieved what you want to achieve may be fundamental in setting your personal goals and deciding on the steps to take. If the person is within your reach, you may even take the chance to listen to their story, their path, their goals and, most importantly, the challenges you might be faced with in your own journey. The earlier you develop awareness of who you are professionally and where you want to go next, the easier it is to embrace the challenges that come with the choices you make.

Like Dorothy, one is never alone when working in education. There will always be professionals you can count on, bounce ideas with, those who will look down on you and those who will help you build the most beautiful career you can. Therefore, if you decided to embrace teaching as a career, envision your future, set your goals, lay down your bricks one by one and follow the yellow brick road until you get where you want to get. As many different paths, as many different times as you are willing to move – we change, we grow and so does the road. Enjoy your career and have fun on the way.


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Marcela Cintra

Marcela Cintra is the Head of Products in the Academic Department at Cultura Inglesa São Paulo. She has been working with English language teaching for over 20 years, been involved in teacher training and development programmes and presented in ABCI, LABCI, BRAZ-TESOL, TESOL and IATEFL conferences. A CELTA, ICELT and Delta tutor, she has an MA in TESOL. She is the current first-vice president for BRAZ-TESOL.

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