By Flor de María Vila
Nowadays, there is a great deal of talk about the required qualities English teachers should have in order to facilitate their students to achieve their main goal: learn English. However, this ideal profile with a number of competencies is thought to match with any reality whether this is the one observed in a developed country or the one found in a developing country. If we had to narrow down the perspective, we may also have to think of the context, that is society, the educational model, or even the school where we teach. In this sense, we are also expected to adopt different roles which are definitely necessary while conducting a lesson.
I remember the first training sessions I attended and find myself a little overwhelmed by all those functions described in famous books. It was very challenging, though.
Let´s take a look at the following roles (1). Make a mental check and think carefully before giving an answer. Don´t rush!
We actually do a lot, don´t we? Apparently, we should be satisfied with what we have done so far. However, I feel there comes a point when one feels that even though one masters the roles mentioned above, something is still missing.
Is that all we can do? Isn´t there anything else that should be done?
We are not just a sort of eternal operators in the teaching process in which we follow the book or the innovations proposed by experts, are we? Once we start gaining some experience, we should try to turn into leaders. I do not necessarily mean extrovert leaders. We could also develop into introverted leaders if we prefer not to be in the spotlight. I got inspired by Susan Cain (2) who claims that in many cases introverted people are better leaders.
Isn´t becoming a leader an interesting role? It may sound so common and at the same time threatening. Probably, we feel contented enough and we just do not want to leave our comfort zone. Obviously, we may feel afraid of many things. Probably, the most common fear is TO FAIL. It´s natural, we are humans. Nobody wants to feel embarrassed. However, I would like to challenge you and assume the following role: a leader in a very specific area.
STEP 1: Choose one these options of roles, but keep it as a secret. Choose the one the fits your talent and/or your interest the most:
Specialist in curriculum, lesson plan, objectives and so on. All teachers have to implement content standards, write lesson plans or fill in any other document which would in a way inform the authorities of the institution if we are keeping the standard and appraise them of the progress we are making. If we must do this, why not becoming a specialist and help others.
Learner: Become that teacher who is always willing to look for new strategies to teach listening for instance. (3) Grow into an insatiable tracker and exchange information with your colleagues to find the best approach for your students.
I´m sure that once you begin, your eagerness will become contagious.
Resource provider: There is always a teacher who knows which web sites, instructional materials, readings, or other resources that can be used to help students with any difficulties can be encountered. Another one I have found is that who knows the latest online games, or other technological tools to enhance our teaching. For instance, Kahoot or electronic roulettes to choose the first speaker in a class presentation. What about you? Choose only one and believe me, you will feel fantastic sharing what you know with your colleagues and your lessons will become the best!
Promoter of change: Are you the teacher who does not always feel content with the results? Why don´t you try posing questions to generate an analysis of student learning? You can start by asking yourself and trying to find answers with any searcher on the web or read a book about it. If you are committed to continuous improvement, this is your role. Just go one step ahead: share this concern with your colleagues and propose alternatives to solve any issue. It may be a good idea to propose changes and together with your colleagues or on your own talk to your coordinator or any member of the staff that could hear you and be open to make changes. Substantial changes need support and authorities will definitely welcome them because that will improve the standards.
STEP 2: Take any opportunity to offer your help to colleagues. Some aid is always welcome and nobody is judging, so you won´t fail. Keep track of the results and you may have the chance to assist again.
STEP 3: Get together with other colleagues that have the same interests and you could become a team: one specialized in anything that you choose. Sometimes it is easier and much more fun to work with other people.
STEP 4: Explore other options such as becoming an innovator or a researcher. For that, you may need to read the following articles:
As I mentioned before, adopting the role of a leader is not that difficult. If your main concern is the possibility of failing, keep it secret first. Little by little start sharing what you know with people who need to know what you know. Help them and you won´t fail.
Are there any other roles I haven´t mentioned? Have you tried them?
Share your experience with us!
(1) The TKT course (2011) Spratt, M., Pulverness,A., & Williams,M. Cambridge University Press
(2) Susan Cain https://youtu.be/c0KYU2j0TM4
(3) How to teach listening. https://languageteachingblogger.blogspot.com/2018/07/listening-skill-difficult-to-teach.html
M.A. in Cognition, Learning and Development from PUCP, B.A. in Education with a major in English Teaching. Ms. Vila is currently Teacher trainer, Pedagogic Consultant and Member of the Research Team at Centro de Idiomas de la Universidad del Pacífico. She is Academic Director of International Contacts (test training & foreign applications advisory) and relationship manager for American universities´ MBA admissions officers with International Contacts. She is official Examiner for several University of Cambridge tests, freelance consultant with Universidad ESAN, experienced speaker on diverse English teaching issues for prestigious institutions, and senior international examinations trainer (GMAT, GRE, TOEFL, IELTS)