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My greatest teaching job is long done. When I was seven, I taught my little sister how to read. She says. We shared a bedroom and would read books in bed at night. After becoming monumentally frustrated with being asked “Sinéad, what’s this word?” for the umpteenth time, I climbed onto her bed and showed her how to break words into syllables and sound them out. She was flabbergasted by it. (Conversely, she spent much of her childhood frustrated with me for not giving her a straight answer to a question. Even in those days, I was an advocate of eliciting piece by piece, and as a scientist-to-be, she was not having it. I didn’t always know my audience. Or I did, but feeling I knew better, I ignored her learning style!)
Coming from a long line of teachers, and being a somewhat stubborn individual, I discounted that career path pretty early on. I wanted to be fascinating, different, exotic, influential, successful and professional. Most of all, different. That wasn’t teaching. Yet in the summer of 2008, at 27 years of age, I found myself with 20kgs of belongings in Prague airport off to… who knew what. A four-week training course and then..?
Five years later, I still remember that first class. 8 hours of preparation for a 25 minute class. I was hooked, lined and sinkered. And I have found fascinating and exotic in the heads of my students. And I have found influential in how they taught me about the world. And I have found successful in their utterances and their manipulations of “my” target structures. And I have found professional how they thanked me for lessons and what they understood now, that they hadn’t 90 minutes previously.
I am an immensely privileged person. I live in a beautiful city. I work at a job that I love, that I am good at, that challenges me every day. I work with people who make me laugh, make me consider what I do and how I do it on a daily basis. From teaching to training, I spend my days trying to help people see more of themselves. In theory. In reality, they show me myself and who couldn’t love that? My greatest teaching job is still long done but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some great ones left.