A Message to All Teachers Out There
Today I have received some wonderful feedback from a student who, in his words, "has never learned so much English from a teacher before". I loved the compliment, but then he moved on to say all the things he felt his other teachers had done wrong when they were teaching him.
He described how one of them made him memorize random sentences, the other would bring newspaper articles to discuss with him and focus the entire class on the reading task, the other did millions of drills, or translated from Portuguese, or focused only on mistake correction... He asked me what my opinion about all those things was and I had to be honest with him.
Here's what I said:
"I think you've had wonderful teachers before me and that they've prepared you really well for the kind of lessons we are able to have today. I think I am also fortunate for being a private teacher, as I have freedom to apply a little bit of all these techniques in our classes, and to let you take the time to learn at your pace. That is often not the case for teachers working for a school and many times students don’t know that. From the very start, you struck me as a student who has had a solid foundation in your learning, and that is often achieved with the help of really competent professionals. It is because of all their hard work that I now have an easy time getting you to understand certain things and brush up on your skills. It might have not been that easy without them, you know. Getting a series of different perspectives definitely plays a role in learning something, and I think the teachers who preceded me have made just as much difference in your learning process as everything I do."
He was very thoughtful for a few seconds; it's like he figured out he didn't have to blame herself or the others for what he hasn't achieved yet. Because he's taken a little bit from every single other teacher and lesson he's had, and now so have I.
So here's my big thank you to all teachers out there who are pouring their hearts into lesson plans, who are helping other teachers, who are preparing students to communicate independently, and who genuinely work hard to make them progress. We're not competing; we're completing each other. It's not about being the best. It’s about empathy, team work and contributing to add meaningful things to people’s lives and our own.
My big thank you: I acknowledge your hard work in every student who’s had a teacher before me.