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What type of teacher are you? by Andrew G Scott

The type of teacher I am has changed over time.  And the type of teacher I have been working towards becoming has also changed over time. Initially, the dynamic and inspiring teacher trainers on my CELTA course were the goal, something to aim for long term. Then with my first few years came experienced colleagues, mentors, the grammar kings and queens and directors of studies who guided and supported me through my first classes, courses and levels.

As I became more experienced and my knowledge and confidence increased, I started to listen more and more to the learners in order to discover the classroom from their perspectives. As a DOS, my views of teaching and teachers changed again and versatility, reliability and professionalism became increasingly important. This altered again when I began working as a teacher trainer, as an ability to reflect on classroom practice, take on board feedback and, crucially, act on that feedback took on new significance.

While not wishing to stereotype, there are certain types of teacher to be found across language teaching organizations in different contexts. Some teachers might clearly fall into one category, while others might change as they develop.

1) The photocopier: usually difficult to spot behind reams of photocopies, this teacher appears to equate learning with handing out paper.

2) Methodical coursebook user: keeps students’ heads down as they complete every activity on every page of the coursebook, often in the order it’s printed in the book.

3) Non-coursebook user: keeps students heads up with plenty of communication. However, the students don’t always perform well in tests. Can be difficult for other teachers to plan and work with: ‘Syllabus, what syllabus?’

4) The performer: delivers well rehearsed routines to  a captive audience. Often very popular with students but can produce student feedback like ‘I wanted an English teacher, not a comedian’.

5) Complainer: provides impressive range of grievances. Best not to engage in conversation if you wish to maintain your good mood.

6) Avoider of responsibility: blames colleagues, lack of resources, lack of time, the students themselves are all responsible for any mistakes, problems or lack of progress in learning. Lesson observation feedback can prove difficult.

7) The sitter: found seated at every opportunity, sitters often have issues with establishing and maintaining pace. It has been reported that skilful sitters are able to write on the whiteboard without leaving their chairs.

As I look back over my development as a teacher, from completing the CELTA at IH Cape Town in 1999 to teaching in Turkey, Italy, the UK and Australia, I see that at different points I have been all of the above, to a greater or lesser degree (mainly lesser I hasten to add). By reflecting on our classroom practices and acknowledging both strengths and weaknesses, we can ensure our continuing development. Identifying and voicing our thoughts and beliefs about teaching, learning and language, and comparing our classroom practices with others’ is an effective way of facilitating this development. Writing for the IH Journal is one way of achieving this; I look forward to hearing your voices in future issues.

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