17.8.14

Through the eyes of a young teacher… Giving learners the chance to have their say

Through the eyes of a young teacher

Giving learners the chance to have their say

Patricia Salguero, an experienced EFL teacher  from Peru, is particularly interested in a humanistic
approach to teaching. She recalls what it feels like introducing a new approach in a fixed educational environment.

I still remember that first day when my heart was beating faster than ever. Nineteen years ago, I started teaching English in a high school, It was an honour for me to go back to my own school  where I had played, learnt, and shared my adolescence with my school mates, but this time I came back to play an important role in the life of my own students.

As I started teaching, most of my high school students seemed like my classmates as I was only four years older than them.  At the beginning, being on the spot was totally different from what I had learned at university and even in my practice teaching cycle. Being there in class, made me go back to my seat at high school and see how students feel in class. I felt like one of them, trying to understand what it is like when teachers asked them to be sitting down for seven hours or not to make any noise in the classroom.
It was there that I started to look at those students who were four years younger than me with another perspective. All of them wanted to learn but there was something missing in most classes in different subjects. The ties between the academic factor and the humanistic one were severed; therefore, most of them were lost in classes or even worse, never actively involved in them.

That’s how I perceived engagement: to treat every learner like an individual human being with needs, strengths and weaknesses. I spent hours looking for engaging activities for my lessons and the class needs. Thinking of some issues that they were facing on their daily routine and also thinking about the way they could respond to them.

Teaching students to persist in carrying out a task, or offer help on homework can strengthen friendships, increase students' satisfaction with school and their chances of succeeding.

It was then that a 20 year old teacher began to understand how a teenager can feel when they are asked to do something that they do not like or they disagree with. One of the most useful tips was to ask them what they think about the activity, what they suggest; how they would change it; why they think it was important, and if they liked doing that. That feedback made me grow as person and as a teacher.

For most teachers at that time, I seemed to be the inexperienced crazy English teacher but I knew something else was growing. Later on, I found that by sharing a break with students, asking them how they feel even if that day was not an English class, playing with them out of the class, giving them space in my class to have their own say, to think loudly. What was even more important was that we worked on learning to respect each other; developing tolerance between teens.

My reward? Despite being so young, I earned something that some other senior teachers might be looking for ages : RESPECT
It wasn’t the respect that some teachers may think it was the right one, stemming from a teacher’s authority and power. I got a different kind of respect rooting in the rapport we had built. I had earned it with the way I taught them to support their views and by giving them a chance to express themselves, negotiate their ideas and views.

I would add that by encouraging students to learn through failure, they may be more likely to ask for help in developing new approaches, new ways to see their process of learning with a different view; being aware of their roles in order to challenge new goals for their lives, they are more grateful for and reflective about the help that has been given to them in the past..


"They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel."
One of the many small presents  I received at the end of that school year as tokens of appreciation.

25 comments:

  1. Nice work. You captured the essence of being a teacher! :)

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    1. Thanks, Sara. These memories have helped me a lot to keep going on the dream of education and still believe in those amazing souls we lead.. our learners. I am glad you like it! :)

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  2. What a nice post. I can relate to many of your early experiences and feelings.

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  3. Thanks, Teresa. I do believe it is really important to keep our first steps in this passionate career, I find it as a key to be aware of our own background and beliefs. The humanistic approach is a great way to touch lives forever through our teaching. After nineteen years, I still believe in it.
    I am happy you enjoyed it. Once again, thanks.

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  4. Dear Patricia,
    What a lovely post. I feel you managed to develop "empathy" with your learners right from the beginning.
    This is a powerful example of the meaning of "the whole teacher". Your learners were lucky and I'm sure that this journey, once started, is never left.
    Thank you for sharing your human factor.

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  5. Thanks for your touching words for me, Debbie. I feel very honoured to share with you all my first year in this blessing career. I really hope all of us keep working on the humanistic side to get best results not only to teach English and to develop language skills, also to lead lives and make our learners become better human beings... There is a big path to go on, but our mission and beliefs in our students go beyond!! A pleasure to read you. Thanks, once again!!

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  6. Dear Patty,

    What amazing post written from the heart! I see myself some years ago as in a mirror. How nice ! You are right. It's a matter of humanizing. It's all about people and passion, and you have a lot of it in you.
    Feel warmly hugged, dear! Congratulations!

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    1. Thanks for your touching words dear Roseli. One of my best memories ever is without doubts that year ... It has made me grow in all aspects of my life. We are really so blessed to be part of this team.

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  7. Hi Patty,
    I had read your post before, but it was rather quickly and so I couldn't leave the comment it deserved. I'm happy that today I had the time and here I am.

    I believe that you nailed the essence of interaction in many points in your post - listen to each other and seek understanding.

    Beautiful post and I'm so happy to see that you learned that very special and important lesson early in your career.

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    1. Wow..! When I accepted this great invitation to share with you all, I did not expect to have all of these comments and touching words. Nineteen years ago I got in this blessing field and as you said I learnt at my early twenties what teaching implies. I can not be more grateful for being in this path. After 19 years, I can say that I can not find other way for teaching. Touching lives through a class is the best reward we as educators can get. I am happy you enjoyed it, dear Rose. Thanks a lot for your words.

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  8. Congratulations Patricia, you really love your job, although I have not much knowledge to describe my feelings when I read your post. I hope you developing more and more your abilities and keep being this "brilliant teacher".

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    1. Thanks, Rogelio. I am very grateful for all these comments. My best reason to keep on believing in this human approach is to see how my students help each other in all aspects. There are a lot of things we can get through the humanistic factor. Let's keep on learning from each other. Once again, thanks to all of you.

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  9. Mercedes Miranda24 August 2014 at 12:08

    My english is not very good but I'll try ... I really liked your post. For me, teaching experience closes the circle, especially for those who first had the opportunity to learn and experience what they are going to teach. I am an art teacher and I could not stop teaching as I could not stop learning. Meche.

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  10. Thanks for your kind and tocuhing words, Mercedes. Let me congratulate you for being the kind of teachers who are always thinking in something new to learn. Learning and teaching is a must in our own lives as educators. I am sure, you are the one of the ones who teaches with the heart. Keep on spreading your Arts in such a great way. I am so happy you liked the post! Once again, thanks!!

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  11. Dear Patty:

    What a wonderful post! You are awonderful teacher, no wonder why your students are crazy about you! Kepp inspiring us with all that wonderful energy you always bring into the class. Best wishes =) - Giuli

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  12. I am deeply honoured to keep having such as touching comments. Thanks for your inspiring and touching words for me dear Giuli. I have always believed it that our beginnings are fundamental for the rest of our path. It is like our own roots .. we can not forget it and I do believe it is vital to keep growing with our own beliefs in mind. Thanks for all your support!! And let me tell you I am so happy to be part of your team at Pacifico University. Once again, thanks for reading me and your kind encouragement.

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  13. Yony Cárdenas Cornelio9 September 2014 at 18:42

    Dear Patty,
    I went through the article and I could perceive how little by little you grew up professionally, helping the young people by using their way of being, but gaining what is important, the learning of the foreign language. Adolescents also perceive when their teacher is authentic, and when they notice this, they simple do their best to achieve what the teacher plans. Never forget to keep on being authentic and I am sure you will continue having good results with your students.
    You are of the right track, my dear friend, and keep on moving smoothly to benefit the youth who expect a lot from us¡

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  14. Thanks for reading it and feel the meaning of my sharing. I am so happy that more Peruvian educators can share these ideas. Once again, thanks for your touching words.

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  15. Patty. Needless to say. You have a different way to deal the things. Winners don't do different things, they do things differently(Khera).

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  16. I am glad you got the point of my saying , Sagun. There is always a lesson, I am trying to express young teachers that they can reach their main goals with their learners, those goals that sometimes are not written on a paper work or programme. The goals that go beyond.. teaching with their hearts and understand and believe in their learners in a more humanistic way. Thanks for reading me.

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  17. Your students are lucky to have you. Being an empathetic teacher is vital. (We have much more in common than I thought.)
    I love your article. It comes from your heart. You're a great teacher, Patty.

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  18. Thanks a lot Gordana. It was not me excatly, it was they my kids who has made who I am. Once again, thank you for your kind words, my dear!

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  19. Thanks, my dear student Enzo for those kind words.

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