I’ve been lucky enough to benefit from a sun’s worth of beams since becoming a teeny part of the big, wide world of EFL. From my CELTA tutors to my colleagues, to all the wonderful students I’ve had the privilege of working with, to all the lovely people I’ve interacted with via Twitter in the short time since I discovered that wonderful tool. Indeed, it’s Twitter that has led me to the 30 Goals Challenge, via Vickylora’s blog entry on Goal 9, which led me to the website of Shelley Terrell, whose brainchild it is.
Sharing is, I think, one of the most important aspects of teaching: Knowledge in a vacuum is useless. But knowledge is not the only thing we share, either with our colleagues or with our students.
What else do we share and why is it important?
Perhaps, as teachers, one of the most important things we need to share, with both colleagues and students alike, is our love of learning. (If we don’t love to learn, perhaps we shouldn’t be teachers!)
For the students, we can create, or nurture, in them the desire to face the world around us with inquisitive, open minds and hearts. If the desire is there, everything else will follow. How do we do this? By making our classrooms an environment that challenges strengths but supports weaknesses. A place where students are encouraged to think about how they can solve problems not if they can. Somewhere where it’s ok for students to be themselves: to share their ideas, their backgrounds, their cultures, their dreams, their hopes, their fears, their achievements and indeed their mistakes. A place where knowledge isn’t painful, where mistakes aren’t an embarrassment. Where their world and their acquisition of knowledge isn’t confined to textbooks but instead opened up beyond the four walls of the classroom, welcoming all the riches that the world has to offer. It sounds a tall order for a teacher!! But in reality, it’s as simple as treating the students as people rather than vessels to be filled with tenses and vocabulary. Responding to their frequently-changing needs, by adapting your plans to what happens in your classroom, instead of blindly forcing them into a rigid framework. Believing in your students and helping them believe in themselves. Letting your classroom be a place where students have the confidence to speak up, to share, to make mistakes and to learn, and enjoy the process. And not being afraid to have fun with them!
For colleagues, sharing our love of learning comes through sharing ideas, experiences and theories, as well as support, smiles and cups of tea. Imagine how many ideas we’d have to play with if everybody was sharing their ideas regularly. Oh wait, you don’t have to imagine: just look at Twitter! What a world of ideas has been opened up to us. I’ve tried to share this with my colleagues, none of whom use Twitter in this way, yet, and I hope they will give it a go.
Let’s keep sharing and supporting each other as we share. And let’s do the same with our students: share more than just knowledge with them. Share the love of knowledge, the importance of being listened to, the security of being supported and encouraged in pursuit of dreams, the joy of being part of a group where every voice counts. And let the English flow.
Thank you for reading, if you got this far, and I hope you will visit again as I fill these pages with more entries, on the 30 goals and any other element of learning, teaching and EFL that I want to explore and share.