Vicky Saumell - My journey as a teacher: a winding road

Teachers often get asked how is it that they decided to be teachers, and I am no exception.

My journey in the teaching career began when I was 18 years old and developed in two different areas at the same time over the years. I had just finished secondary school and I decided that I would study to become a PE teacher, which I did.

But I also needed to work to help at home while I was studying and I was offered a job teaching English to young learners in the private language school where I had studied. I felt insecure about it at first but confident that I could learn on the job and become better. I'd had a teacher, Alex Campo, who had been a role model to me and had indeed made me love the language! This went on for a few years until I graduated as a PE teacher. It was time to decide which area I wanted to focus on, English or PE?

What had started as a temporary job was now something I really loved and did not want to leave behind. I decided to keep working part-time jobs in both areas and eventually the balance was tipped towards English. I enrolled in Translation Studies and have never stopped studying and learning about English since that first teaching job in 1986.

However, it wasn’t till the late 90s that my perceptions as a teacher began to shift. I started to see myself as an agent of change in education. I got my first Coordination position in the secondary school where I was teaching (and still do!) and began to address a bigger picture than the classroom. I also became increasingly interested in technology and ways to use it in language learning. Technology helped me to connect with educators from other parts of the world and that literally changed my life as a teacher.

I also started feeling that I had lots of things I wanted to share with other teachers and with the invaluable help of my mentor, Susan Hillyard, I started making my first steps into conference presentations and materials writing. Then came the opportunity to publish something I had written with a major publisher and the Latin American Scholarship to attend the IATEFL conference in 2010.

These two events opened many doors so that I could further develop professionally and contribute my own experiences to the ELT community. I have since spent my time teaching, reflecting on my teaching, training teachers, writing and presenting my ideas. All of this has been made possible by sharing and exchanging experiences with teachers worldwide. Becoming a connected teacher, through social media and face to face interactions, has allowed me to become more involved with teaching English and education in general and definitely more open-minded.

I am now in a position where I feel I have to give back some of the immense help, mentoring and consideration I received in the early years of my career by mentoring other teachers, helping out whenever I can, and doing volunteer work for teaching associations and others. Teaching English is my passion and almost 30 years after that first teaching job, I have no regrets whatsoever and I cannot possibly see myself doing anything else!

Teaching is such a rewarding profession! But it has so many facets worth exploring! If I could summarise it in few words, these would be: exploring, connecting, sharing, learning.

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