This is the second reflection piece inspired by the course What future for education, on the Coursera platform. At the end of the first week, which has discussed ways in which different people learn, we are challenged with the following topic:
Based on your experience as a learner, what do you think you will be able to get out of this course? And what ideas do you already have about the future of education?
Personally, I am at a point in my career where I am trying to gather different perspectives on learning and teaching and to organise my own ideas. It has taken me a lot of courage after almost 8 years of teaching to challenge myself and my ideas. To my luck, I have achieved good things in my journey as a teacher so far, though, if I have to be entirely honest to myself, most of my methods were intuitively discovered and applied.
I have been teaching languages in Bucharest, Romania, for about 8 years now. After completing studies at the University of Bucharest, I jumped into the profession head first because I knew this was what I wanted to do for the most part, if not for the rest of my life. I jumped in with very little knowledge of pedagogy and methodology, although I had completed what is called the Pedagogical Module, a series of courses designed for those who are going to become teachers. However, with little practical experience and plenty of theory my first lessons proved to me then and there the futility of all the courses I had ever taken.
I was given textbooks by my employer, the Head of Department informed me about the kind of paperwork I was supposed to fill in and they shoved me into a classroom full of kids who didn’t want to know anything of what I had to say. So, I taught myself to abandon the book and look more into the practical needs of my students and slowly and painfully developped some methods of my own.
After quiting the school environment, I got the chance to work more closely with students in one-to-one lessons, and having no children of my own, I managed to learn a lot about the mindframes of young learners, about their expectations and about the way in which they examine the world.
I had the chance to work alongside great learners who have achieved great progress in the past few years and to which I am immensily gratful. They were patient enough to work alongside me on this wonderful journey in which they became better English speakers and I became a better teacher and a better person with each of their achievements.
Therefore, this year I decided that I owe it to them to be the best version of myself that I can be at the moment. I decided to join professional development courses, to get my TKT and my CELTA certificate, to read more books. I have to admit it took me a lot of courage to challenge everything, because I may discover that I would love to change this or that aspect of my teaching and I have grown quite fond of my fixed ideas 🙂
One of my students (10 years old, has been my student for 4 years) saw me carrying many books one day and we talked about why teachers still need to learn. Occasionally, she remembers to ask me whether I’ve found any new games to teach her in all my books. And I guess that this is the foremost purpose for which I am taking this course, to always be able to respond positively to her question.
Because, in my opinion, a beautiful learning experience is that in which learners and teachers sit down to discuss each other’s purposes and guide each other through the journey. I can only hope that in the future we, as teachers, will become more open to sharing our own learning experiences with our students. It is both inspirational to them and it helps lower the affective filter. If we perceive each other as human beings that have come together to share an experience, we will achieve more. We need to listen more than we speak and be ready to guide rather than deliver the answers straight away. We need to be maps with no borders, rather than strictly designed itineraries – stray away at your own risk!