The minute I saw wonderful Vicky Lora’s blog challenge, I knew it would be a unique opportunity for all us teachers to share our personal journey to the teaching world and discover what unites us. So, here is my story as a learner and a teacher.
I think there comes a point in your life when you know what everyone older than you has been warning you about since you were a child; that is, how fast time passes. I’ve only just begun to realize how much I’ve done in life, but -most importantly- how many things I still want to accomplish, how many dreams I have yet to fulfill. That being said I find it hard to believe it’s already been, more or less, 10 years since I first started teaching. Teaching literally ran through my family. My mother was a teacher of Modern Greek and my father also taught journalism for quite a while. So inevitably when I think of what a “true teacher” should be I think of my mother. She has always been a role model for me for her patience, optimism and -most importantly- for her steadfast belief in people’s abilities. Her passion for her profession was the reason why I was convinced I wasn’t meant to be a teacher. I always thought I lacked what I believed to be a super-power, a divine charisma that all true teachers have and which makes them stand out for who they are. Quite naturally then, teaching was a profession I had ruled out of my life. I tried my hand on many things, things I loved and still love doing but somewhere along the line teaching literally found me. I was still working as a translator when a family friend asked for some help with her daughter who wanted to take the FCE exam. Mind you, despite holding a degree in English Language and Literature, I was mainly working as a subtitler/translator at the time so all our friends knew me as such. My first few lessons were so overwhelming in terms of what I expected of myself and what I imagined teaching to be. I spent countless hours searching, writing, creating and most importantly worrying about whether I was doing the right thing. It was the first step out of my comfort zone and it was nerve-racking to say the least.
But what changed me and the way I saw things was the students themselves. I wanted to become better so that I could help them. It was the first time in my life I studied hard for someone other than myself. I didn’t like Methodology classes at University, but now everything made more sense to me. I wanted to help them make meaning out of chunks of language. And then I wanted to show my students what I loved about the language itself – to share the music, poetry and literature that inspired me to study English in the first place. And then I wanted to show them how languages can communicate feelings, ideas and how they can bring about change – not only around them but inside them as well. Since those first stressful lessons, I’ve worked with so many wonderful teachers and students, people who have given me the chance to wonder, question, push myself and expect more from myself and others.
When I look back to these 10 years, I feel truly blessed for the hours of hard work, the failures and successes, for everything that has made me a better person and a better learner. Have I become the teacher I thought all teachers should be? I can’t answer that, but I’ll never stop trying to learn how to get there.