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Why teach?

Iím a teacher. I never thought I would be, and sometimes even wonder how it happened, but very often, sometimes to order, I just have to stop and think to myself how lucky I am I have chance to do this. Do five years in this job and if you can still tell me where home is youíre doing better than I am. The mountain of benefits however, outweighs the tireless lack of any sense of permanence to attach to anything; transience of students, friendships, climate, addresses, even domicile. As a stark result, I havenít the blindest idea where I feel I belong sometimes.
A slightly bad day is never to be caved in to, but has the potential to open a can of migrating worms which quickly reach every corner of the globe taking your occasionally-settled soul wandering curiously after. But how personally should we take these attacks of unsettledness? On an average day I have the enviable and very real choice of work and life in any of the following places I will choose at random but also carefully so still to give a sense of perspective on the situation; Colombia, Saudi Arabia, China, Nepal, Siberia, Ecuador, Bhutan, Vietnam and Spain. Oh, and etc too. The hardest part is always filling in the visa application form.
They say that good lessons arenít planned, they just happen. And although I tend to spend more time planning a single lesson than your average spin doctor spends planning a General Election campaign, I do agree with the theory provided it doesnít become used as an excuse not to prepare. But in many ways this is teachersí own very simple daily metaphor for the existence we lead on a more macro level... for although we may seem to skip from country to country with careless abandon, we do in fact put a great deal of thought into our spontaneity. How many conversations have I participated in, or overheard, about where we are planning to go next, six months before we even think about applying? ďI fancy Kuwait.Ē ďIíve always wanted to go to Finland.Ē And then life takes over and we end up in Moscow or Colombia, or Indonesia.
I only had one plan, and it wasnít really to become a teacher. I had by then realised that the only way I would reach the level of fluency I wanted with Italian would be living there. And as I canít program a computer, I was left with this one choice. But something inside me woke up when I started looking into opportunities. And I knew then that my immediate destiny lay in a classroom. Many teachers continue in spite of a fairly open contempt for the job and sadly sometimes the students too. Some of them are nonetheless excellent teachers, but I still wonder why they bother. For me the magic ingredient is to love the work, the students, and to care about them and their progress. When you have this, everything else falls happily into place.
 

Recipes

Itís not my intention to try to match some of the resources websites online, some of which are themselves admittedly pretty lame, but I donít have the time or the desire to build an extensive bank of materials and in any case you are probably one of about two teachers who has even found this site (and you were probably looking for onestopenglish.com), but my perennial insistence on writing my own materials has resulted in a nice portfolio of mostly useful stuff that my great friends at the British Council have seen fit to pay me to include in their own site. Check the BBC Teaching English link on the right for some nice insights into teaching and equally useful lesson ideas. Sorry there isnít a lot on my own site yet, check back occasionally to see if Iíve added any more, or email me and berate me insensitively for my inaction.
Activities page
 

Where have I worked?

TEFL schools can take the mick. Some of them don't care about the students or the teachers, and some of the stories you can read online are enough to put you off doing the job altogether. But other places are more responsible, even if they are sensitive to the fine line they tread between running a very profitable business or a liability.
I've been lucky. Find out where I've worked, below.
Word file Mississippi Language Centre
Word file The British School of Verona
Word file The London School in Bishkek
Word file Accent Courses Ltd
Word file The British Council, Cairo
 

Useful Links

http://www.teachingenglish.org/
BBC Teaching English
The British Council
http://www.go4english.com
http://www.onestopenglish.com
The Grammar Aquarium
Accent Courses Ltd
International House
The London School in Bishkek
http://www.tefl.com

Teaching English