A letter to my younger teacher self

Tomorrow there’s a KELTchat about advice to a younger teacher self which was inspired by  Joanna Malefaki’s blog. It feels a bit weird to write a letter to myself circa December 2013 as it doesn’t feel like that long ago. There are quite a few things to tell myself; either this means I’ve made lots of progress or that I was really clueless when I first got here.

Dear Tim of 15 months ago,

Well, here you are stepping off the plane. If you were less exhausted from the eighteen hour flight you’d be pretty nervous right now. It is a little awkward because you don’t know much about teaching EFL but you’re going to have a great time. Everything is going to be fine but I’d still like to give you some advice to help things go better.

First up, you might not have thought of this, but you’ve gotten your job based only on where you were born. That’s based on a lot of colonial history and horrible stuff. You can’t do much about that but you’ve got a responsibility to become someone who’s worthy of teaching these kids. You’ve got to be as giving as you can be of yourself and swot up! Review your grammar as early as possible and do it often. Read as much as you can about teaching and experiment. If you don’t have any money read blogs. Be confident about developing yourself as a teacher. Don’t wait to start that blog and to do conference presentations. You’ll meet some great people and learn a lot.

In terms of pedagogy don’t be afraid of looking silly or childish stuff. One day you’re going to find out that singing songs and being silly is really easy, fun and effective. There are two key skills you should try and pick up as soon as possible. Talk less in class! You’re very interesting but your students don’t know what you’re talking about and your chat will go down much better in the hof. You should also get better at knowing what you can expect students to do. Don’t expect too much of them or dumb things down too much.

You should be more confident about demanding what you’ve been promised. You deserve to have healthcare and get paid the full amount you’re supposed to. Don’t think that because you’ve got a job from someone, that you should do whatever they ask. When the time comes to apply for a job, be fussy it’s going to work out well for you.

Finally, when you get to your new apartment from the airport and then head out for a snack, check the ramyeon you’re buying. The black one with the flames on it is painfully hot and will make your face go red and swell up. Don’t eat it!

Have fun with it

Tim