Inspirational teaching

I have recently discussed with another teacher that we should never lose track of the lessons we learn from inspirational teachers. We learn a lot throughout our professional teaching lives, but also from our long-lasting lives as learners. We take courses, study, research, observe. In this post I would like to write about those teachers who inspire learners to act, think, be curious, be brave and so much more. Those are the teachers that I believe make a difference in the world.

I remember one of the greatest teachers I had and the lessons she taught me when she had the opportunity. She taught French at the school I went to, a state school that would no longer offer French lessons. I was 10 years old and had been looking forward to having those language lessons. Then I learned the curriculum had changed. The teacher, D. Vera, decided to keep the projects she had built in the school, offering French as a free optional activity. Many of us joined the group. Not only the lessons, but all the involvement with the French language and culture, including a singing competition. D. Vera was the leader in taking many of us to perform on stage. What that meant for us is indescribable and the lessons learned went way beyond French.

That teacher showed us that if you are passionate about what you do, you find ways of working towards it. Also, that the dedication teachers have to their work inspires learners to go out of their way and take extra lessons nobody was forced to join. However hard it might have been for her to keep working with us, she never let out any complaint. She would come to school with a huge smile on her face, lots of different resources, ideas – remember that happened thirty years ago, when materials were not as available as they are today. She had another job and in hindsight I believe we were part of her volunteer work to build society. Not once did she miss a lesson, not once did she think we were not able to speak the language (or even win a competition singing in French).

D. Vera was not the first, nor the last inspirational teacher I had. However, I owe it to her to have given me the chance to teach my first lesson. She was the one who invited me to start teaching, at the age of 14, when she was unable to teach all the lessons to learners joining the optional activity. She did tell me a lot about the materials to use, the language. But the most important thing she told me was that anyone would be able to learn if I believed so, because if I truly believed that I would find a way to help them properly.

Now I see that she was also saying that she believed in me as a teacher and I thank her very much for noticing where my passion was. I hope to become at least half as inspirational as she was to me and my colleagues. Who were the teachers that inspired you to become teachers?

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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