A friend of mine who is a solicitor is thinking about a career change, and she is considering the possibility of teaching. This morning she came to visit INTO Manchester where I work, to sit in on an English for Academic Purposes class and see what we do. Afterwards we went for a coffee and had a long talk about teaching English, and I told her that if I were to become unexpectedly rich (which isn't likely!), I would still want to do the work I am currently doing. I would undoubtedly travel more in the holidays, but there's no way I would want to retire from teaching for a very, very long time.
My conversation with her got me thinking about the reasons why I love my job so much. Here are my top three, in no particular order:
- You learn something new every day. Actually, this one does deserve to be number 1 on my list, as it's the reason why I never get bored. Today, for example, I learnt about two beautiful cities in China, when two of my students each gave a presentation about where they come from, accompanied by amazing pictures and video. I also learnt about the stellar career of Jose Mourinho - and the amazing fact that the teams he managed remained unbeaten at home games for, if I remember correctly, about 8 years! I was also able to try out some new ideas about ways of teaching IELTS reading, which definitely need further refinement - I know with 100% certainty that there is always more to learn about being a teacher. I also think that the day you think you know it all is the day you should think about giving up teaching!
- You meet such interesting people. This morning I had the privilege of spending time with four people from China, one from Indonesia, one from Vietnam and one from Oman (as well as my solicitor friend from Stockport!). This afternoon I had a couple of extremely enjoyable hours with my lovely student from Madrid - it just doesn't feel like work! Each of these students comes to their English lessons with a background and history I initially know next to nothing about, and finding out about them is such a pleasure. Even a fairly ordinary conversation about food or business is fascinating when you are talking to people from another culture, whose world view might be completely different to mine.
- Helping people achieve their goals is an amazing feeling. Ultimately, learners are the ones who have to do the hard work of learning, but as a teacher I can give them help, advice and encouragement, and it's deeply rewarding. Even when things don't go as planned for a student, it's still very fulfilling to be the one to help them develop and put into practice 'Plan B' - but nothing beats the satisfaction I feel when someone I have taught gets the exam success they had been hoping for!
I'm lucky to do what I love, and love what I do!