You might know I have an unhealthy tendency to write about myself a lot or too much. In connection with this, I am very pleased with the choice of topic for this particular blog post. Basing it on the materials from Thomas Farrell’s workshop “Teacher Behind Practice” that I attended at JALT is a decent excuse to continue conversations with and about myself.
In the workshop we were asked to complete a set of sentences (“narrative frames”) without giving them too much thought. That was an almost traumatizing and certainly challenging experience as I normally would do my best to look for the words which express my thoughts as close to the thoughts themselves as possible, and that takes a lot of time, mental effort, and oftentimes a dictionary search. That fast-paced workshop experience left me feeling unsatisfied. So I want to go through the same set of frames again and have a second, more thoughtful run over them. My original, rushed workshop notes will follow in italics and let’s see how they will compare.
***** Who is THIS teacher behind her practice? *****
1. To me, the word teacher means … different things in my native language and in English. In Russian, I have recently started to read “учитель” as a kind of a mentor, almost guru. That could be related to my Asian travels. The word “teacher” in English for me at the moment is not really much more than a piece of lexis in the language to define a person teaching, as a driver would be a person driving.
To me the word teacher means a person with students in the room.
2. I became a teacher because… I happened to like my first experience working at school when I was 20. Quite possibly I didn’t “become” a teacher, I “happened to become” one. For now.
I became a teacher because that’s what happened, I never wanted or planned to.
3. I DON’T believe teaching is a calling because… No, I don’t believe this, because it’s not true for me or maybe because “a calling” sounds too presumptious and high-flown. I believe a very obvious and inescapable artistic talent is a sign of a calling. I believe teaching requires a certain set of qualities, but then again different students will connect to teachers with different combinations of those qualities.
I don’t believe teaching is a calling, at least from my own experience.
4. When I first started to teach I… was very naive and sensitive. I would take every little uncomfortable moment in the classroom very seriously and think about it for days on end. I’ve learnt to let it go since then.
When I first started to teach I was 19 and created my own crosswords.
5. The place I teach now is… providing me with enough freedom to think bigger and come up with projects. I’m grateful to my boss and colleagues for giving me the space to feel at ease in my classroom and our shared staff room.
The place where I teach now is interesting.
6. My students are… intelligent and open. I’m not sure if it’s about the university they enter and its entrance requirements, or about my attitude towards people I teach. Both?
My students are mostly boys and most often intelligent ones.
7. I enjoy going into school each morning because… This is a frame full of limitations (which I believe fits well into the concept of a frame). I enjoy not having to go into school each morning as I’m very happy to be the master and manager of my own working week and schedule. I enjoy going into school in the morning because I’m excited to see what the day may bring.
I enjoy going into school each morning because it makes me wake up early and have a maybe exciting day and be social.
8. I find teaching exciting and challenging because… I like to think my students feel free enough to express themselves during a lesson and this eventually leads to interesting discoveries for me, us and our mutual learning.
I find teaching exciting and challenging because …(no answer).
9. I do not think teaching is a job because… + OR vs I think teaching is a profession because…
These statements are really hard for me to tackle. I don’t see any trouble with thinking of teaching as both a job and a profession. I hope in the comments you can guide me towards figuring out the difference, if you see it here. For me, in any case, teaching English is a kind of a life style that gives me enough freedom, social contacts, and plenty of opportunities for personal development (which I value a lot). There’s no speaking of work life balance in my situation, my “work” is my life, and that’s why I don’t feel bad or get whiney about writing articles at 3 am on the night of the deadline. These are my choices.
I think teaching is a job but also could be just the way you see your life. Communicating what you know to other people.
I think teaching is a profession because there’s room and means to grow.
10. The best aspect of my life as a teacher is… being connected to a great number of teachers around the world. I can’t help feeling lucky and special in being able to form these connections, strengthen them, use them to change my own lessons and even probably the course of life and career.
The best aspect of my life as a teacher now is being connected to other teachers and having found good friends.
11. The worst aspect of my life as a teacher is… having too many ideas, plans, and projects and too little time to bring them all into life.
The worst aspect of my life as a teacher is …(no answer).
12. What I really enjoy doing in my classroom is… challenging and surprising my students.
What I really enjoy doing in my classroom is talking to students about their learning.
13. My students believe in…. the importance of having a good relationship and nice connection with their teacher. That is my take on their belief.
I think my students believe that I’m more energetic and positive than I really am.
***** Shallow reflections *****
– If you frowned at some of those and categorised them as “assumptions”, you’re with a few people from that workshop and maybe with me, too.
– As I was typing the notes from the workshop after I’d finished with the post, I surely laughed. It was amazing to see how challenging it is for me to think within strict time limits AND with a presenter walking around the room pressing on me AND with a crowd of other people around. It makes me think that some students might be going through a similar kind of process in my class. I would like to decrease the discomfort level in my lessons though.
– So who is this teacher behind practice? I had no trouble or needed no extra time to come up with a positive (though likely not comprehensive) answer to this question. I believe I am relatively well aware of who I am aside from being a teacher. I might very well be wrong but my belief right now is that as a teacher I am who I am as a person.
– “Who I am is how I teach.” I yet have to dig deeper into the “how I teach” part. Coming up, maybe.
This post dramatically and suddenly ends my Asian series of #livebloggingparty. This time blogging happened sitting on tatami around hibachi (which looks to be the Japanese version of Russian samovar but is a totally different experience as you basically burn charcoal inside a table)), in a traditional Japanese room in a most hospitable and nicest house of Nara, the ancient capital of Japan. As some of you might have already guessed, Kevin Stein is the host and blogger (and friend) and here’s his writing from tatami. Thank you, Kevin! Thank you.
I’m going home.