The ABC of ELT

I was a better teacher when I had no life

Before I start let me just clarify that this is very much personal and I’m not saying this is true of every other teacher but I’m willing to bet it is true of some other teachers.

When I started teaching I spent long hours into the night preparing for classes, before each class I would go over my lesson plan time and time again in my head, I’d read and reread the grammar guide on the topic that was coming up and I’d read a handful of blog posts on the latest ideas in teaching every night. Fast forward a few years and I barely read any blog posts on teaching (they have to really grab me), I can happily turn up to a class without worrying over my lesson plan the night before, I often don’t recap my grammar knowledge before lessons and generally I don’t spend as much teaching, talking or writing about teaching.

Partially, this has been due to becoming a better teacher. I’ve taught certain topics so many times that I can on demand recall the basics of the grammar rules (although exceptions still catch me out), I’ve had enough good and bad classroom experiences that I know I’m not going to completely fail at a class and even if I do, I can carry on and improve it next time. I’ve also completed higher level training courses that have given me more insights into teaching.

But it’s not all good news

I make mistakes, ones which could be avoided if I’d just checked that explanation over again, the activity I choose wasn’t really level appropriate, I have no idea what people are talking about to do with teaching (we’re over Dogme right? and demand higher is still kicking around? I guess EdTech is still a big thing but do we care about iPads anymore?) and I haven’t really discovered an incredible activity to use from the internet in a long time. And it’s all because I have a life now.

When I first moved to Ukraine, I knew no one there, I had little internet access and all my friends were teachers. Some other aspects of life there weren’t great and so I focused on what I could control. I threw myself into my teaching. I wanted to be the best and I set out to do so. Things went well and I improved a lot and had a great time doing so too. But over the years as I left Ukraine ultimately to end up in Poland I gained a girlfriend, I took up a hobby, I found people to regularly meet up with who didn’t talk about teaching and I also joined in with some cool projects that aren’t teaching related. All this made my “continuous professional development” suffer.

I feel bad about it, and I don’t. Ultimately as a complete person I am in a much better state of less stress, happier and more content with life. However, As a teacher I am not working as hard as I once had. I was a better teacher when I had no life.

Maybe you can relate, or maybe you can’t, I’m happy for you if that’s true. Maybe this will change again over time but for the moment I probably won’t write as much here, nor will I tweet loads about teaching. I’ll still do my work and I am still taking part in a company run professional development program but I know it’s not as much as I have done in the past.

You are welcome to share your thoughts below
[Photo Credit: Zenas M via Compfight cc]

About Chris Wilson

I'm an English Language teacher based in Krakow, Poland. I enjoy writing, using technology and playing the Ukulele.

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