A very good friend, Ehrhard, a retired teacher from the former GDR, recently wrote a letter to me, which made me truly reflect. He told me that he was so happy that he had taught English “his way” successfully for many years, even though his colleagues had changed their styles and methods to suit the trend of the day. He had remained faithful and constant throughout his long and illustrious teaching career to what he firmly and most importantly of all, passionately, believed in. By doing so, he had earned the greatest of respect from all his adult students of EFL.
“I did it my way”. These simple yet powerful words struck a chord in me. I realised that the only way you can really inspire learners, really motivate them, is if it comes straight from the heart. Your heart and soul, to be more precise. Your instinct as a teacher to teach in a style that suits you, that feels comfortable and natural for you and that is welcomed and appreciated by your students, is vitally important.
Teaching trends come and go, like the inevitable ebb and flow of life. For any learner, however, there is always a constant factor involved. The need to feel that one has gained insightful knowledge and the ability to know how to use it effectively in the future.
There is no set or prescribed way for every teacher to follow. The “right” way is individual and highly personal. What is “my way” you may be curious enough to ask. The answer is very simple. In every single lesson, I learn with my students. I do my best for them. I try to really listen to them. I look into their eyes. By looking into their eyes, I can tell if what I am doing is ok. I know that the day I see no light in their eyes will be the signal for me to retire gracefully. I do not want that day to come for a long time yet.
Note: This article by Janet Bianchini originally appeared as a guest post on Teaching Village and is licensed under a Creative Commons, Attribution-Non Commercial, No Derivatives 3.0 License. If you wish to share it you must re-publish it “as is”, and retain any credits, acknowledgements, and hyperlinks within it.