Is teaching a lonely profession?

Is teaching a lonely profession?

Teaching, in all its forms, is an activity that requires social interaction, and this chance to interact with people while playing a role in their development is probably among the most common reasons that draw people to our profession. Nonetheless, many teachers with whom I talk to share the impression that they are all alone, making decisions and designing lessons, which makes teaching a (paradoxically) lonely profession. Does it have to be that way?

Last month, I had the amazing opportunity of attending two events that prove otherwise: a LABCI conference in Montevideo and the BRAZ-TESOL technology seminar in São Paulo. In such events, I had the chance to meet friends whom I hadn’t seen in a long time, make new friends and, most importantly, learn what my peers in different contexts had to share.

There are many things you can do in order to take advantage of the support network teachers may have. Here are my favourite ones:

Contribute to a healthy staff room

Some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learnt in my professional life came from relaxed, meaningful peer-to-peer interaction. We all rely on our immediate relations to vent feelings and frustrations, but this can sometimes lead a degree of negativity that is neither productive nor helpful. Rather than focussing on the problems that rise in our daily routine, why not count on the other teachers who work in the same context (and therefore better understand our reality) to help you think of solutions for those problems? Bouncing ideas are a great way of having insights you might not have on your own.

Join an association

Sense of belonging is a powerful feeling. Being able to rely on a support network can be both comforting and helpful. Many associations, such as the BRAZ-TESOL and many other local associations, help teachers connect with each other by promoting events, conferences, publishing newsletters etc., but I personally feel that the greatest gain comes from taking an active part in the teaching community, sharing what you know through talks and articles, lending a hand and contributing with what is within your reach.

Take part in teaching conferences

Teaching conferences are probably the events in which the sense of community is more visible. Seeing how much effort other teachers put into their own development and the results of their reflections can only be supplanted by the sense of pride coming from presenting your own ideas and conclusion, thus contributing more actively to the teaching community. The thought of presenting in such conferences may seem distant and far-fetched, but everyone’s contribution is always appreciated. If what is holding you back are the expenses involved, important international events such as the TESOL and the IATEFL offer a number of possibilities of sponsorship. Check their websites!

Rubens Heredia

I'm a co-founder of the blog whatiselt.com and an Academic Coordinator at Cultura Inglesa São Paulo, where I'm responsible for course design, teacher training and e-learning initiatives. Having transitioned from a BA in Law to becoming a DELTA holder and a CELTA and ICELT tutor, I'm currently taking an MA in TESOL at NILE (University of Chichister). I'm also the proud owner of a whippet, a cat a fish and a rabbit!

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