A CONTINUOUS TEACHER.
Nina MK, Ph.D.
Being a teacher means several wonderful things to me.
• Continuous Development. My answer to the eternal question, “How long does one have to study English to know it well?” is always the same. Learning is a never-ending process. The new opportunities for your own education are endless. I read books, watch films, listen to music and the news in English. The internet naturally is a source of information and a means of instant communication. I regularly visit my favourite sites, email and skype with lots of people around the globe. Whenever possible, I communicate with native speakers in real life.
• Continuous Sharing. We all share our knowledge, our skills with pupils. Some of us become teacher trainers, like I had. The first time I was asked to deliver a series of lectures to my colleagues, I was very young, a beginner. The head of the department explained to me that as I was the only Moscow University graduate in town, and my English was really good, I had a lot to share. Since then, I have never refused to conduct a seminar or a teacher refresher course. I have also been writing a lot of methodological articles, lesson plans, both in my own language and in English. Local and international conferences are a great way to share and to learn, too.
• Continuous Challenges. It seems to me that the greatest challenge today is not teaching grammar, pronunciation, and any of the traditional four skills. Nor is it discipline and motivation. Any teacher worth their salt can teach anybody anything pertaining to their subject; they can manage the unruly ones and stimulate the lag-behinds. The real challenge is life itself. We teachers were ALL born in the last century, while ALL our pupils belong to the dot.com – touch screen generation. Today, virtually any student can connect to any other student from any point A to any point B. For modern teenagers, there are no borders. Primary school pupils sometimes are more knowledgeable about the technology than we are. We watch some clips on youtube and other similar sites, we may use them at our lessons. Children know how to be part of this culture, they place their own faces, their songs, poems, share their concerns, and get responses from around the globe.
• Continuous Connection to the Whole Wide World. The immediacy of acquiring any information, the explosion of any news, the barrage of scary events are the constant background to children’s life today. They see and hear a lot, but they do not understand all of it. So they come to us with their questions. Will war come to their homeland? Is Ebola a threat to the whole planet? Can shooting happen at their school? To name but a few. I always let parents know about those hard questions.
• Continuous Responsibility. For a large part of the day, five or six days a week, children spend a substantial time with us teachers. If they see us as responsible adults, if they trust us, they bring their questions, their problems and concerns to us. We cannot tell them to sit down quietly and wait until we are ready. We must always be ready for the unexpected. Yet we are not their parents. There is a fine line between being a responsible experienced adult, and being a parent. Yes, I know that not all the parents are responsible adults; neither are all the teachers. This means we are all human.
• Continuous Youth. If you like children, you enjoy working with them, teaching them your subject, shaping their budding minds. When yet another group of boisterous kids rushes into your classroom, eager to see what you have prepared for them this time, their enthusiasm, their energy rubs off on you. If you make them happy, they make you happy. It translates into a congenial atmosphere, and it makes teaching and learning a truly fulfilling job.