Teaching is not a mere profession; it is more of a hobby, vocation and a lifestyle. It is one of few professions that keep you engaged twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and almost 365 days a year. A true teacher becomes obsessed with his/her work. As an English teacher I keep thinking about my classes with my family at home, at a party, gardening and even doing sports. In my mind I set and refine my teaching goals and objectives which are based on educational goals of my students, I design activities, I see an opportunity of real life communication for my students in any English speaking friend I have. My teaching philosophy is organized around my reflections on my teaching approaches and techniques as well as on my perspectives regarding teaching, it is also determined by the beliefs I have about knowledge, learning and teaching.
I have set the following goals in my teaching. The main goal is to empower my student. As English is an international language, the knowledge of it gives power and opens new doors of opportunities and chances in life. For example English language skills make one privileged in terms of getting a job or advancing in his/her career. Knowing the language may positively affect one’s social status and make their voice decisive in their environment. The second most important goal is to lead students to autonomy in learning. Learning is inseparable from the course of human life, thus we have to learn how to learn efficiently and easily, and what is more important relying on our own selves. Regarding assessment and evaluation of accomplishments I think that the best judge for each one is that person him/herself. I also try to get my students to reflect on their own learning process and evaluate their success and advance in the language learning.
I believe that any person we meet on the path of our life changes it to some extent. Teachers are the ones with really great power to influence people. Teachers can encourage, discourage, guide, distract, improve or harm people’s life without even being aware. An example of how a teacher can discourage a student to learn and even to give up her decision on her career is one of my student’s case at school. She has constantly been complaining about the pressures exerted on her by her Armenian teacher for not being the type of a student the teacher wants to her to be. The result is she has completely given up learning the language and decided on another profession that doesn’t require Armenian Language entrance exams. Such examples are countless and keeping them in mind I try to be very self-conscious and self- reflexive in my teaching. I believe in friendly atmosphere and relations. I am a friend to my students and as a result they turn to me for any kind of help or just for sharing their problems and joys. Thus I act as a facilitator of their school lives in general and their English learning process in particular. Friendly atmosphere also keeps the anxiety level low and the efficiency of learning high. In my class I try to be a motivator and make my students enthusiastic through my own enthusiasm. If the teacher and the student are engaged in the process of learning and teaching, their goals are interdependent and interconnected. Consequently, teaching is cooperation and the teacher is a co-learner and counselor.
Teaching process is very complex as you work with a group of people consisting of many individuals, who are totally different in terms of motivation, intelligence level, knowledge level, learning styles. Some students are good at visual learning, others need to read and write, some are musical and learn by copying the rhythms. I try to include different types of activities during a single class to meet the interests of every individual student. On the other hand, teaching with different materials requires implementation of different teaching techniques and methods. To reach my goals I approach my teaching from different angles. I tap into strengths of each of my students, take into consideration their personal aims of learning the language, create opportunities for each student to benefit from my classes, have students experience meaningful learning.
Assessment is a constituent part of the teaching process. I believe that assessment should be very impartial and fair. No favoritism is allowed in this process as this also can be a discouraging factor for those who aren’t on the “favorite” list. I accomplish my assessment work through various tests, quizzes, final projects, as in the case described above. One of my evaluation techniques is self-assessment. Assigning some tasks relevant to our material covered I get my students to reflect on their own learning. They know that if they have succeeded in studying the material they will be able to solve the task efficiently. This makes them reflect on their progress and effectiveness of their learning style. This is also a way for me to assess myself in terms of efficiency. Thus assessment is also a bilateral process where I assess my students’ work as well as my own, and they in their turn assess themselves and my teaching.
As mentioned above learning is a lifelong process. And especially people who teach other people have the need to learn, to update their knowledge, to brush-up their skills, to keep their hand on the pulse of the planet. When teaching and guiding others you should make sure you are leading them through the right path. I believe in professional development and that is the reason I enrolled at AUA in MA TEFL program. The next step may be some years of teaching in different context within and outside Armenia which could be followed by a PhD in this sphere. Even if I don’t end up as a PhD holder, I will make sure to always keep updated attending various conferences, workshops, being an active member of different teaching associations and clubs.