The Soul Behind The Face – Teachers Making A Difference

The academic year is just around the corner and every now and then we tend to start the New Year facing some challenges and the kind. Being an educator is not an easy task, dealing with stressful situations such as routine, and, to add insult to injury, many of us will have to perform a juggling act, e.g. work in different schools, in order to make ends meet. Looking for perfection should be the main aim, right?

It is important, however, to bear in mind that there is no such a thing as a perfect teacher, though this seems to crop up oftentimes. Consequently, mind, spirit and body should be working in harmony so that ‘perfect’ equalises ‘ideal’ and we, as educators, might stand a very good chance of getting through the year with an acceptable level of (in)sanity.

As a teacher, I am inclined to lead my academic life as enthusiastically as possible and I would easily say that a teacher’s willing to make a difference in their students‘life is the fuel that keeps the motor running. Getting involved in this career is not something that happens out of the blue, to me it happens right in the middle of the blue, say, a matter of vocation and all. However, this is not good enough and it is our role to make both our and our learners’ wheel spinning.

Now, there is a full range of things that we can do in order to make a difference in our students’ learning process. Further down is a short list of what I have observed in my short, yet eventful career.

  1. CPD: as afore mentioned, perfect should equalise ideal, thus, keeping up with what is happening within our teaching realm is a key factor in this equalisation. Vocation is of paramount importance; on the other hand, one can never leave preparation behind. Being able to accept that we can always walk an extra mile towards the ‘ideal’ and facing the new challenges better prepared with an open mind and heart are an added bonus to our vocation. Consequently, this is an important factor in making a difference in our attitude to teaching. CPD will provide us with evidence of what we do is right and, simultaneously provide opportunities to right the wrongs, Plus, students will easily notice and differ the teachers who are both professionally and academically updated from the ones who prefer to bask in glory.

 

  1. Caring and Sharing: needless to say reaching out to our students is instrumental in getting them going. That is, showing your students that you care may seem to be a little obvious, yet, once they have learned that they have got a solid well-prepared professional in front of them, they might feel like stepping ahead and take risks, mind you, not only in the classroom environment but also in their private, professional lives. It is by no means a far-fetched idea that we, besides helping them academically, may be actually helping them out with their general health.

 

  1. Attitude: this another important issue since positive thinking is always a springboard to anything we do in life. Even though we may oftentimes encounter dark days, say, our capacity will switch from professional to personal, from mental to physical issues. But fear not, there is always a silver lining. According to Junia Bretas, we need to be ‘emotionally shielded’ from the negativity of the outside world, so, this emotional shield should be brought into the classroom environment so that learning is facilitate within a stress-free environ. Positivity seems to radiate positivity; hence, we are in a good position to make that take place. Smiling is a contagious thing, after all, at the end of a smile there is a laugh and a half.

 

  1. Diversification: it goes without saying that the EFL world has a wide range of teaching approaches, methodologies and techniques. Teaching variations should, better still, must occur in order to meet our learners’ wants and needs. Consequently, we must be attentive to what path will benefit our students most. By the same token, at this point, we should somehow be aware of NLP and the VAKOG learning acronym (http://www.richmondshare.com.br/locked-and-loaded-but-out-of-focus/). No class will be heterogeneous, so another way of making a difference is to be prepared to encounter students with from different walks of life, let alone different learning styles. Hence, it is fair to say that we should be able to spot the strengths as well as the weakness these students might bring into class and act upon them. I usually say that teaching is more like working on a rough diamond in the sense that one will always need to sharpen it without losing its essence. Thus, we need to make sure that our students’ diversity are met, above all, respected and once such perception comes into the game, then there we are making a difference again.

 

As I see it, learning a foreign language might be a daunting experience to learners in general and I always tell my students that this a difference they can have under their wing. As educators we can help students out through a full variety of ways to achieve such a difference. For some it is usually the same thing we do and there is no perceived difference whether we use this or that to achieve results. Deep down, we all know that a teacher who wants to make a difference will do the ‘very same things’ in a more, say, different and elegant way.

 

Adriano Zanetti

Adriano Zanetti – BA in Letras, Post-graduate in Language Teaching Methodologies, RSA Dip. DELTA. An educator for 30 years, an ELT consultant/teacher trainer at A2Z English Consultancy, a teacher/trainer/coordinator at FISK São João del Rei and Cambridge Assessment English Speaking Examiner. A Pronunciation SIG member responsible for Pronunciation courses for teachers/students. Presented several times in LABCI/ABCI conferences, Braz-Tesol Regional/National Chapters and different institutions in MG. a2zenglishconsult@gmail.com / dricozane@gmail.com

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