The personal & professional development journey of a teacher: “the burning desire”

I don’t remember who said that, but I clearly remember having read that one thing successful people need to have, is the knowledge for what they want and the burning desire to possess it. A matter of considerable debate has always been what really makes a good teacher. Some people say the studies, others claim the methodology or the relationship with the students. A combination of the above could be ideal as well. However, I have always believed that a great teacher is the one who always wants to become better. A great teacher is a teacher who knows their strengths and weaknesses, wants to work on them, who doesn’t get complacent, who has a burning desire to evolve and innovate.

Text by: Elizabeth Veliou

In our school we invest in professional development. We think that training teachers on the new trends and teaching methods is not only crucial for the success of the school but also for the team bonding, since we have to have a common vision and a common understanding. We need to look at things the same way. Since we follow a student-centred, experiential approach, it’s impossible to have teachers who are not familiar with it. There are certain educators in the field whom I personally respect and admire and I have invited several times to come and train us. The social media give you the opportunity to connect and meet people, trainers, teachers, share ideas, views, a common vision, and you can actually have the chance to ask them to train you and your team if you feel inspired by their vison or their methodology. We can be a truly valuable resource for each other.

Of course, I have met teachers who believed that they knew everything. Teachers who believed that a university degree offered them all the knowledge they needed in order to lead a classroom. Those teachers lack the burning desire. They don’t feel the need to evolve, to explore new paths, and learn new ways. And I have met teachers who have attended every seminar in the world and still teach the Grammar-Translation way. These teachers are allergic to change or afraid of it. They want to have the certificates, they want to say that they have been trained, that they have all the necessary qualifications, but practically, when they are in the classroom, they resort to the traditional methods. Sometimes, because they are not convinced that anything else really works and sometimes because they are afraid to try anything new. They blame the parents, other teachers, the bad weather, but never themselves.

As a trainer, a school owner and a colleague I have met teachers who are not keen on career professional development, who cannot teach without the Teacher’s guide and do not know what lesson planning is (nor are willing to learn) and teachers who have the burning desire to unlearn and relearn no matter their age or educational background.  I have met teachers who attend a seminar and instantly put into practice 10 ideas in their classrooms and teachers who hold a certificate or a diploma in TESOL and still teach grammar deductively. The burning desire is the one thing that differentiates everything when it comes to the personal and professional development of a teacher. And that burning desire is the great separator between those who succeed in the field and those who do not. Those who get into their classrooms and make a difference and those who just teach the syllabus.