First of all, I want to be straightforward about the content of this post: it is not about technology. So I want to apologize in advance to my techie audience but I have wanted to write about this for a while and this is the best space for it, anyway.
After the article I wrote for Ken Wilson’s blog, “Daring to move away from coursebooks”, some people asked me if I had always been daring in my profession or how I was able to make such a decision. And it was a really good question that got me thinking about my present as a teacher and how I got here.
So this is the story...when I finished the secondary school, I was offered a part time job teaching English to children at the private institute where I had myself studied. At that time, my professional interests lay elsewhere (I am a PE teacher) but I took the job as a way to help my family and start earning my own living, partly. After all, I really liked English. And I have never stopped teaching it ever since!
As I said, it was only a part-time job and I did it for many years at different private institutes with the only concern of instructing my students according to the specific guidelines from my superiors, who had the decision-making power. This went on for about 12 years. Then something happened... I was already working at the school where I still work and was asked to develop a specific project for the school. Immediately after that I was asked to take on the brand new position of English department coordinator, which I did.
This new position brought on to me several new responsibilities. I was now in charge of all the students and all the English teachers in my school, not just my own classes. So I had to start reflecting critically on the decisions to make. I have always taken this responsibility quite seriously although at the beginning I chose to go safe by staying within traditional paths. Later on, I joined Webheads in Action community of practice and I have to say this single and apparently insignificant event changed my professional life forever.
I learnt from them, experimented with their suggestions, shared and discussed experiences with teachers from all over the world. In time, I dared to try my own ideas and share them. I learnt that there are many different ways to do things and that educational contexts are so different from one another that you need to take risks and innovate. I also learnt to be critical of whatever I read in order to discover its true value as related to my context. Without realizing it, I became so absorbed in teaching, concerned with so much more than language learning! I discovered that I no longer wanted to go with the flow but change things if necessary. I realized that I am living in exciting times for education, as I discussed not long ago with Jeremy Harmer. Times of innovation and profound change, times for making these changes happen and being a part of it! And this realization came with the feeling that this professional self was much more satisfying and challenging!
It is now that I understand that all these years’ experiences both in my school and out, sharing and meeting with people from distant places and seemingly different contexts to discuss education have made me the teacher that I am today: a full-time educator, ready for the challenges of a 21st century education!