The Dodecalogue of the Teacher
When I saw the post of the forum in SEETA site welcoming new teachers, I spontaneously grabbed the opportunity to share my thoughts about teaching. I have been in the field for over 18 years. I have had my share in success and failure, joys and disappointments, excitement and weariness. Inspired by the great poem of Kostis Palamas ‘The Dodecalogue of a Gipsy’, I present you my own ‘Dodecalogue of a Teacher’
I. Teaching is an option? Drop it!
If you see teaching as an alternative of occupation, you’d better think twice. I am sorry but you are not going to make money. The effort, the extra hours at home correcting, preparing your next lesson won’t pay back.
II. Be flexible!
Keep all the terms of ELT Methodology at the back of your head. Soon you will realize that there is not one single correct method. Your class is full of people with their own needs, intelligence, social and educational background. You will find out that the mixture of methods is the best option and support of your teaching.
III. Be open minded – Love differentiation!
There is not such a thing as a perfect class. You will certainly find yourself in front of school desks with learners of different cultures, religions, social class backgrounds. Besides, copies are boredom. Be open minded, you may learn something from them.
IV. Be friendly to your students – not friends!
You should put limits how open you are with your learners. They should never cross the line and you should keep yourself a bit above them. Students need role models in the classroom; they can confide their worries, problems to you, share jokes but keep in mind that they need an advisor, not another ‘buddy’. In that way you don’t lose control in the classroom.
V. Be fair and honest!
As human beings we have preferences, likes and dislikes. Try to be fair and honest with your students. Some of them may cause trouble in class, irritate you, be rude. Tell them! Be honest, not sarcastic! Your position gives you no right over them. Try to solve problems out.
VI. Expect the unexpected!
You have prepared your lesson but something goes wrong in practice. They don’t seem to get it. Don’t panic! Don’t think you have failed! Think how you can approach the topic in another way. It’s better to have two things done instead of overloading your students with extra information.
VII. Get up of your seat – go out of the classroom!
Engage your students in outdoor activities once in a while. Visit a museum, a sports centre, a sight. You can use English to describe things, events. No matter what learner type your students are, they will be thrilled and motivated.
VIII. Welcome challenges!
It would be ideal to have smart, diligent, obedient students but this is not the case. Don’t forget there are students with learning difficulties. Their IQ is high but they cannot show it in their skills performance. Don’t turn your back to them. Meet the challenge. Help them, support them. You will feel more satisfaction when you overcome the obstacles.
IX. Keep up to date!
Attend seminars, English language venues, sign in forums, don’t be afraid to ask. Internet has opened a whole new world. You just step in. There are blogs, free webinars, articles, you just name it. And one good thing about our professions is that most colleagues are willing to help, share their experience, knowledge.
X. Be a human!
No one expects ( or should expect) you to be perfect. If you don’t know the answer to the question, just tell them. For instance, you may not know the teenage slang language. After all, all English teachers are not native speakers. Though it wouldn’t surprise me if adult native speakers don’t know either… Tell them that you will look it up. Some of them will appreciate it. It means you don’t forget their request, you put time and effort to find the answer. The impatient ones may be displeased. Do not worry!
XI. Give time to yourself!
Find some time during your day to relax and do things that you enjoy. Tired teachers get grumpy, impatient, everybody/ everything annoys them.
XII. Be proud of yourself!
Yes, you must be proud! You share knowledge, you help people to communicate in another language. Don’t think this is a minor thing. When you hear your students talking in English, just sit back and think: “ I did that! I helped them all the way and now they can understand and speak in a foreign language!”