Daring to learn …

 

I’m just not up to it.

There’s simply no way I can keep posting regularly on this site. Only yesterday I checked Hana’s blog (after a loooong summer break) and couldn’t but gasp with admiration. Hana, you’re absolutely awesome and I love every single post of yours! And most of all, I admire your discipline, what seems like an unstoppable stream of ideas and extremely enjoyable writing style.

I’m waking up to a new school year. On one hand, I’m a little stressed about getting back into the classroom. I get these usual pre-school nightmares which mainly consist of totally unprepared lessons, absurdly arrogant students and trying to find classrooms that don’t exist. My summer has been so incredibly rich in people, places and experiences that school was like a heavy bag that got dropped in June and needs picking up again.

On the other hand, as soon as I sit down at my desk and start organizing the coming year, I feel the excitement, too. What was an empty workspace rapidly fills up with dictionaries, books, flashcards, post-it notes, diaries, markers and lists. I’m a Crazy Miss Lists right now. Lists of this year’s objectives, lists of materials, to-do lists. I doesn’t matter if any of the stuff on my list gets crossed out or not, simply putting it down on a list, makes me feel rather organized and productive. We all have our make-me-believe’s …

In her last blogpost, Hana encouraged us to think about what kind of teacher we would appreciate learning from. The thing is, I have been thinking of that for a long time now. This year is a special year for me because I won’t  be wearing only ONE teacher hat but TWO! Right after the kick off of the academic year, I’ll start my very first yoga lessons. I have been lucky to be able to turn a small room into my very own yoga studio and will welcome my first yoga students in three weeks. Thus, the whole notion of a guide, instructor, teacher, helper has been very much on my mind this summer. As I was asking myself what kind of a teacher I would love to grow to be, I automatically started pondering on what would I expect of a teacher. And here I mean any kind of teacher, be it yoga, English, photography, cooking, you name it.

Here are the words that jumped out at me:

Inspire – I wish that my teacher INSPIRES me. A great teacher makes me want to perform better, aspire higher, achieve more.

Trust – I want to be able to TRUST my teacher. I want to be able to lean on him / her if needed. I want my teacher to show me how to grow wings that carry.

Enjoy – I would love to ENJOY the learning process. And I don’t mean play. I mean enjoy it even if it gets tough because I would be aware that what I’m doing is getting me somewhere. But enjoy it also on a human level. For me a great teacher is also a great person. Someone who has this amazing ability of making people around them feel good and worthy. And with the feeling of worthiness comes trust and with trust comes the DARING 🙂

Do you dare?

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Happy new school year!

Blogging rituals

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I could write anywhere, right?!

Writing is something I crave. Sometimes it happens in the middle of a lesson that I suddenly get an overwhelming need to write, to withdraw into private reflections and gently release my thoughts to the sound of a pen brushing against paper. But this yearning to flirt with thoughts, to catch them into words, to contemplate in writing can much too often turn into a struggle and instead of writing down my bones I feel them ache.  Yet why is this?

Zhenya got the ball rolling with her post on blogging habits and rituals, and if ever there was an occasion to contemplate my blog writing, this is definitely one. So before I delve into the three questions listed by Zhenya, I’d like to thank her for that fun and inspiring challenge and invite other bloggers to join in as well!

So, back to my writer’s block and blogging rituals in general. More often than not I like to jot down a draft of sorts. I like the feel of pen and paper, or more precisely pencil and paper. When it comes to mind mapping or lists or doodling I need a pencil. I have notebooks, sticky notes and paper lying all over the place so I simply grab one and start scribbling. I might do it all in a row or with small breaks in the middle (one needs abundant coffee and tea to be able to write well) or I might do it over a day or two. This latter is actually the wisest option as many of my best ideas pop into my head in the shower, while driving or when by the oven. The silly thing is that many a times I neglect this important ripening period. Take this post, for instance. I felt like taking up Zhenya’s challenge and here I am sucking words out of the keyboard instead of letting them drop onto the paper once they are ripe and juicy.

The surrounding is important. Or at least, that’s what I have been thinking till now. I somehow used to think that my best posts are born in my office under my tiny twinkling lights with a cuppa next to me. But how can I know? I have rarely written longer pieces outside in the wild world and the more I think about it, the more eager and curious I grow to give it a try. I have a funny feeling that the background noise will actually work as a wall between me and the outside world and make me concentrate more effectively on my own thoughts, it’d help me to withdraw deeper into my own self and find sentiments and words floating in abundance.

Prior to writing I often read a couple of posts either from fellow teachers or bloggers in general. This will help me to get into the English writing mood.

And that’s where we get to the two habits I find upsetting and awfully demanding. Why do I need to warm up, to get myself into the English mood? Well, as several other bloggers who took up this challenge have noted, being a non-native English speaker  can slow the writing process down considerably. And this is definitely the case with me. While Mike mentioned in his comment to Zhenya’s post that mistakes slip in and so what, then many (I guess I can generalize here a bit) non-native speakers have this paralyzing need to get it all nice and neat and super correct and let’s push a little further – it has to be VERY GOOD. Not just good, but VERY good. And this is where the heaviest and biggest cornerstone of my writer’s block resides. There it is! When I write in Estonian ( I have a personal blog too) words simply flow out of me. I don’t need to think hard, I don’t have to look for the best suitable word for the feeling I need to express. Not at all, in Estonian, my mind, my lexis, my hand, they all collaborate and oh what a joy that is. But writing in English is hard work. Honestly, it can be extremely frustrating when you are absolutely sure there is this word or expression that would transmit your sentiment so well, but you simply cannot find it. And that’s when I get stuck. I sit at the computer, I am aching all over, getting more and more frustrated and the feelings that want to get out onto the screen rush to the front of my skull, collide, heap up and rage for release. But I cannot help them as the right words to free them are suddenly lost to me.

The other impeding habit is similar to Hana’s. Instead of writing my posts in stages, taking time off when needed, I want to get it all over with in one go. Now, considering the amount of time I spend looking for words and struggling with getting my thoughts down as truthfully as possible, this ‘one go’ can grow into a seriously long episode. Being a mom of three, these interminable episodes come with a cost and I don’t like to pay this price.

So, having typed all the above, I guess it’s time I came to the last question which was about the one new ritual we’d like to establish this year. Well, I guess you could write it for me now that you’ve read my post (Anyone still reading? … hello? Anyone out there?)

I hope I won’t be evicted from the challenge if I put down three blogging hopes for this new year.

Firstly, I simply need to write more often. Of course it’s hard to verbalize my thoughts in satisfactory English if I do it too seldom.

To fight the important correct-word blockage, I should finally start walking my talk. Let me explain. Whenever I ask my students to do some free writing, I always tell them to just keep writing and not bother too much about producing the correct sentences. What is important is to catch the thoughts before they flee and then worry about the words and expressions later. Well, I definitely need to practice what I preach!

And last (and the most exciting of all for me) – start writing posts outside my cosy office! I want to experiment with writing pretty much anywhere and see what the change in decor has to offer. I will, of course, let you know as to the place of birth of any of my following posts.

New year resolutions are so not cool … here are mine!

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(when I was out contemplating this post)

In two days time the new semester begins and even though it’s not a new school year, it is in a way a new beginning. And I’m personally extremely fond of new beginnings. Suddenly everything seems possible. It’s new, it’s a start, so ‘hey’ I could give it another, a fresh go and do much better than before. Sweeping all my weaknesses and failures aside, there is one thing I am good at – getting back on my feet and trying again. And nowhere is it as obvious as in my professional life. I might walk out of a classroom holding back tears, drive home swearing never to step in front of a classroom again, bang my head on the desk and solemnly promise to find a new vocation (because of being such a miserable and incompetent teacher!!! – you know, those days), but let the sun rise a couple of days later, and there I am, all bright and bushy, ready to kick some a****, help my students in new and inspiring ways.

At the end of the last semester I didn’t merit much of an applause, probably a couple of claps, but no standing ovation, oh no. To put it bluntly, I couldn’t wait for the Xmas break to liberate me from the unsatisfactory situation I found myself in. I didn’t feel comfortable, happy, energetic wearing my teacher hat. Somewhere along the way I had taken a bad turn and was feeling strangely lost. I knew I can perform so much better, I still remembered the feelings I COULD savour during and after positive lessons, but the gap between those moments and the current lessons was widening and I panicked.

But I have also learned that panic is temporary. While in turmoil, it’s certainly not the time to take any ultimate decisions or brand myself this or that. It’s like a hot soup you need to wait to cool down a little before eating. These two Christmas weeks have been exactly that, cooling down and letting my hunger and eagerness grow. To give myself a friendly push, I thought it would be a good idea to think of some objectives I could aspire for during this coming semester. Or like I say in the teacher training sessions, while preparing your lesson plan, don’t only write lesson aims for your students, write also what your personal objectives are.

So here they are, my new teaching year aspirations.

Assessment

Keep looking for new and alternative ways to assess my students’ performance. My previous post was all about that. Some ideas are already stirring in my head, so let’s hope I can travel much further on this new road of fair and varied assessment.

PLN is precious

It’s so easy to drift away. We all have busy lives comprising work, families, hobbies, all kinds of responsibilities. So it’s only natural that keeping up with PLN doings is not always self-evident. I have had shorter and longer moments of letting go and wandering on my own. Yet every time I come back and find  again the old (and new!) enthusiastic teachers from all over the world I always wonder how I got along without them 😉

So I wish to have the energy and time to keep up with my PLN, to learn from all these wonderful educators, to share my own modest thoughts and cherish the inspiration.

Teacher talk

Simply put – stop blabbering! Putting some sensible limits to teacher talking time is a continuous objective of mine. I do hope / believe I’m getting better. But there are still those I-get-carried-away moments in class when I use way too many words to get pretty short messages across. So, yep, choosing my words more carefully and avoid confusing verbal detours.

Vocabulary lists

Till recently I had an uneasy relationship with the idea of vocabulary lists. I used to believe that it’s up to students to make theirs. I encouraged my students to note down new words. After all, teaching in such mixed-level classes it seemed only normal that every student has a different vocabulary list. However, after reading Philip Kerr’s wordlists blog, this post by Ceri, and reflecting on student end-of-the-semester feedback, I feel change is underway. As usual, keep tuned 😉

Healthy person makes a healthy teacher

We teach who we are. And I want to be full of energy and inspiration. I know from previous experience that if I take the time to care for myself, I am definitely better prepared to give a helping hand to others. So in order to keep my own humble self growing and developing I MUST do things which nourish me. I hope to be able to read more (MUCH more … I can actually feel the desert advancing in my head and soul whenever I neglect reading for too long). I want to watch more films, too. And last but not least mens sana in corpore sano. Keep running, keep running! And remember to do your daily 5 Tibetan Rites 🙂

And you, do add one aspiration of yours into the comment section!

Magic or maddening teachers

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Our last training session was an inward journey. We went to look for answers (questions too) in the untrodden patches of ‘our-world’, these distant corners we rarely acknowledge as our busy lives seal them off. To get to these rich sources, you have to dig a little. Unwrap layers, think or write them thin so that the dormant answers can surface to surprise you.

We teach who we are … and who we fail to be. Teachers are like spirits hovering in the classroom making magic or madness happen. Not necessarily directly, not by spraying stuff right into students’ faces, but by diffusing feelings, attitudes and beliefs that silently seep into the learners. Most teachers leave an imprint, some deeper, some barely recognizable traces. And these traces are tightly intertwined to who we are or who we fail to be.

In our last seminar we travelled back in time and tried to remember the teacher we’d appreciated a lot. My colleague talked about an ‘ugly’ bottle-glassed teacher who wore the same old tweed jacket year in and year out, combed his hair in a funny way and was young and old at the same time. But, his lessons were always calm, well-structured and had the magic capacity to make the learners feel at ease and confident. I was intrigued and asked my colleague to dig a little deeper. What else could she remember? What about the voice? The gestures? Sanctions? How did he correct the students? How did he give feedback? And that’s where my colleague remembered that he didn’t even talk that much. He was calm, reassuring, more like an all-embracing scaffolding helping students raise to their own feet. He didn’t need to go into sanctions as students hardly misbehaved. They had no need to provoke limits as these were so well defined. From what the other teacher said I could only conclude one thing – that tweed-clad teacher was solid as a rock. He harbored so much self-confidence and calm he didn’t need to mess around with limits or naughty learners. Because the learners felt calm and self-confident too. How powerful is that!

And then I remembered a teacher we used to fear and hate in the secondary school. Even more, we loathed him because of the way he made us feel, how he pushed us into a corner, how he enjoyed being superior and tyrannical. His weapon was fear, and he had acquired quite a mastery of it. But now, looking back, I am sure that fear was not simply a tool he used, fear had enveloped him, fear was eating him from the inside. He could find and manipulate our fears because it was all too familiar to him. He knew fear. He knew it so well he could smell it from far and coax it into the daylight, twist it, play around with it. He was suffering from fear and thus, teaching with fear.

But I also remember a university lecturer, an Irish woman, who was poetry to me. Poetry and words and rhythm and love of literature. She had such a frail figure but powerful mind and feelings. I will never forget the time she brought a book by Doris Lessing to class and read a passage to us. I can still see how she held the book, how she turned the pages with her long and slender fingers, how her voice and body and breathing got captured by the story, how she forgot everything but the book. And I knew I wanted to be poetry too. I knew she had touched, stirred something very, very deep inside of me. The ice had began to melt and I discovered I had loves and passions in me that had lain dormant till that day.

What will I stir in my students? What will I coax into the daylight? How do I make them feel? Can I say that? Can I see that? My students will maybe tell me one day. But till then I will take care of myself as a human being who has passions and loves and interests. I will nurture the good, the hopeful, the soulful sides in me hoping they’ll shine through.

If you want to become a better teacher, start by taking care of yourself as a person … because in the end you teach who you are … or fail to be.

What a year!

This post belongs to the final hours of this year. It’s like the red ribbon you tie around old letters before gently putting them into a box and then up on a shelf. I want to wrap this year up. I want to take all the incredible memories, amazing moments and wonderful feelings, put a ribbon around them and keep stored in a special place, in the year 2013.

I started this blog almost one year ago. Hesitantly. Tentatively. Not sure I was up to it. Not certain my voice would carry. Not at all confident my lines would find ears and eyes to please. I had followed educators all over the world, silently. I knew quite many names. I had read lots of great thoughts. I was a little scared. All these people seemed so far away from me. They were stars. Famous yet so far away. Why would they take any notice of my thoughts and shouts.

I took a small step. Wrote the ‘about’ page and then waited. A couple of days later there was a comment! A comment on my about page! From Ken Wilson! He welcomed me, encouraged me and asked to read more.  A few lines, a tiny moment spent encouraging a teacher, a priceless move to kick a stone and start it rolling … Only a couple of months later I wrote my first guest post for Ken’s blog. It was a hit. It was absolutely amazing. And I can’t think Ken enough for the support he gives to so many teachers from all over the world!

Once my blog got rolling, beautiful things started happening.

1. It helped me create my PLN. Through writing and reflecting I got in touch with so many likeminded educators. The teachers that only a little while previously had seemed utterly out of reach became my allies and my friends. I have “met” so wonderful people, it makes me humble. And what’s more, I have been mentioned by these people in their posts, in their lists, in their messages. This is huge!  I would love to meet all of you guys! And some I already have 🙂 In September I attended the first International Loras Workshop in Zug and spent an amazing day with Vicky and Eugenia, two absolutely incredible women.

2. I started to grow, consciously grow as a teacher. Reading other educators’ posts gave me lots of new ideas. Writing my own, made me ask important questions. Suddenly, teaching became less daunting. I started to visualize it more as a  journey, an adventure during which we stumble and fall, but then get up again and become stronger and wiser. Taking a more reflective look on my work, made me more confident. Becoming more confident, made me calmer. Becoming calmer made me a better teacher.

3. Following other teachers rekindled my wish to participate more actively in TESOL. I read my new friends’ posts about conferences and presentations, I ‘liked’ their pre and post talk photos, I had great fun chatting with other teachers during the IATEFL conference. So, why wait any longer?! I gathered all my courage, quietened the voices of the hesitant and discouraging me and sent in my very first talk proposal.  It got accepted! And in three weeks’ time I’ll be giving my first talk at the annual ETAS conference in Switzerland.

I am very excited about the year to come, I am impatient to meet new teachers and make good friends, I am eager to try, to grow and to accept the challenges my wonderful job offers daily. But most of all, I am grateful to all the educators I have met on my journey. You rock! You do! (… gosh, where’s the kleenex…)

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confessions from a tagged blogger

Dear blog,

It’s me! Promise! I know you didn’t believe me at first. And who can blame you? I’m even glad you deter the suspicious beings who pretend to know the password. And please, do keep up the good work, my blog bouncer! However, in the end I am relieved to have retrieved the magic word from a dusty corner of my brain.  And I am happy to realize I know how to add a new post and which button lets me upload a photo. I can even recall the excitement feedback brings. The tiny ‘bing’ in my inbox when receiving a new notice. Gosh, I absolutely adore that!

Yet it would be foolish of me to promise to keep writing from now on. I have promised far enough during shorter or longer breaks from work to know my projects always vanish into the murky waters of frantic work life. Be it chickens in the garden, articles for different journals or knitting winter equipment for the entire extended family – once school starts again I can barely keep my head above the water. So let’s just enjoy the moment. Let’s cherish the precious breaks from the usual rushing around and get some blogging done!

I have approximately twenty different post ideas in mind. Out of respect for you, for my family and my own little person, I cut it down to two.  The first will be a fun one for this evening. The second a little bit deeper reflection on reaching my first teacher blog anniversary.

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I was extremely honored, surprised and excited to discover that two amazing educators, two wonderful women I admire and look up to, decided to ask me to join in the fun and tagged me for a fun blogging game. Carol Goodey and Anne Hendler sent me their questions and the rules for the game. The latter go as follows:

1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger

2. Share 11 random facts about yourself

3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you

4. List 11 bloggers

5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate the blogger who has nominated you.

As the game has been going on for quite a while now and most of the people in my PLN I admire and look up to have already answered loads of questions, I take the liberty of stopping my round after the first 3 tasks.

So, here it comes, confessions from a blogger ….

11 random facts about me

1. I dream of running a marathon (my knee problem won’t let my dream come true)

2. I have lived in Switzerland for thirteen years but miss Estonia almost every day

3. I managed to graduate from a French-speaking teacher training college even though I have never really learned the language. (just picked it up)

4. My written French is poor – poor – poor

5. I have worked as a presenter on Estonian TV (it’s a blur now – I was young and did crazy things)

6. I refuse to eat fois gras

7. I find human beings extremely interesting

8. I dream of being a writer and a little crazy

9. Sometimes I find it hard to fathom that my kids speak French (rather than Estonian)

10. Some TV ads make me cry (especially the ones with people hugging after a long separation)

11. I hate when funny people from the past creep into my dreams uninvited

Questions from Carol 

1. What do you most enjoy about blogging?

I love how my own thoughts become clearer. I love the dialogue. I love the sense of community.

2. Do you play a musical instrument? If not, would you like to? Which one?

Unfortunately, no. My daughter took up flute a year ago and I really wish she’ll have willpower enough to carry on. I envy people whose world is musically so much richer than mine. If I had time, I would learn the drums. I would love to be able to hit the drums like crazy!

3. How far do you travel to work? How do you travel?

My school is a 30 km drive from home. I travel in my car listening to music or audiobooks. It’s great to have this journey to separate my family and work life, to leave me the time to switch from one me to another.

4. What do you enjoy most about the work that you do?

The human contact. My students. My colleagues.

5. What was the first thing you ate today?

… let me see … mmm… a blueberry yoghurt

6. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? Why?

I can’t say that 🙂 It’s one of our family projects for next year and I am too suspicious to even mention it

7. What month next year are you most looking forward to? Why?

March. It’s my birthday month and my mom will be visiting.

8. What meal do you prepare most often for friends?

Lasagne. It’s one of the few dishes I CAN cook … oh dear, I’m a really lousy cook

9.What was the last movie you saw? What did you think?

Just yesterday evening. We watched the Tree of Life with my husband. Didn’t get it. At all. I hardly ever NOT get the films, but this one got me. It was two hours of wasted time 😦

10. What three things do you like to have with you when working?

🙂 Fun one! Mmmmm … let me see, a packet of post-it notes, a bottle of water and … a SMILE

11. What do YOU think about reality TV shows?

Depends. There is one on Estonian TV where they help really poor and unlucky families. For instance, they would help a mother with four kids who have just lost their father through a tragic event. I don’t know if this is reality TV or if it has another label …

I never watch people in a sealed box getting crazy under the spotlight.

 

Questions from Anne

1. What was your very first job?

It was a short summer job. I was a cleaning lady in a kindergarten.

2. What is your most valuable possession?

My family … my amazing kids and my hubby

3. Where do you want to go to retire?

Estonia. Or somewhere warm. But in the end it’s probably up to my family and where they will be.

4. What is the most important thing you learned from your parents/ parental figures?

Work won’t kill you.

5. Mountains or Ocean?

Sea 😉

6. Most beautiful thing you have ever seen?

When my kids smile to  me with deep and sincere joy

7. What’s your favorite blog post you’ve written?

I have two different blogs, the one here and another, more personal in Estonian. My favorite post in the teacher blog is probably the one on non native English teacher doubts and worries. This post made other things happen 🙂

8. Favorite education quote?

The one you can see on the right-hand side bar 🙂

9. Have you ever done something adventurous? Please share!

Coming to Switzerland has been and still  is an amazing adventure

10. The correct number of hours of sleep is ______ in 24.

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11. What is something you do that has absolutely no connection to TESOL?

Keeping a private journal, writing an Estonian family blog, skiing, hiking, tasting wine, cheese and chocolate 🙂

 

THANK YOU, Carol and Anne! That was fun!

Living up to trust

Last Thursday was an emotional white-knuckle ride.  I plunged from high up to the rock bottom, only to whizz up into the starlight a couple of hours later. That day drained me from all energy, but wow, that day will stay with me forever. What happened there and then made me think of so many different things on so many various levels. It made me ask deeply personal questions, it made me ponder on the responsibilities of a human being and of course, it made me reflect on what it means to be a Teacher.

But before I give you an account of that memorable Thursday I would like to thank you, my teacher friends who responded so quickly to my call for help and support on FB. This would be my WOW moment to write in the footsteps of Mike’s Living PLNeously. I felt so vulnerable and alone, but your lovely comments, your virtual pats on my shoulder helped me go towards the what I then thought would be a devastating meeting with a strong belief that every moment is a good moment to learn and grow, or as Vicky put it so smartly and joyfully in one of her talks “teachable moment! teachable moment!” I thought of her and her mantra and how that would be a moment I could teach myself something new.

It was a Thursday full of lessons. I had the first half of the day behind me when two students from the morning class came to look for me in the teachers’ room. They asked me to step outside as they needed to share something. Once in the hallway they seemed rather fidgety and uneasy looking nervously around them as if scared we might be overheard.  Then they told me they had something very important to share, something that couldn’t wait much longer. They absolutely needed to confess something. I looked at the girls, nodded supportively, yet inside I could feel the gates into the dark and menacing world of doubt and self esteem screeching slowly open.

“We came in the name of the whole class to let you know that we are really lost in your lessons.”

“Yes, Madame, we all have problems learning anything. There seems to be no logic. Everything is so frantic and unconnected.”

“Yeah, and many complain they haven’t learned anything during the last months. It’s like a waste of time. And we don’t even understand what we have to learn and then there’s the test and nobody knows and then we have bad marks and it’s not even our fault!!!!!!!!”

THAT was the dialogue that I dreaded. But it didn’t happen … not anywhere else but in my highly imaginative teacher underworld.

Instead, the girls kept looking around them and exchanging nervous looks. Then one of them told me it was a long story and couldn’t be told like that, and did I, maybe, have a spare moment later on when we could all sit down together. Of course I had that moment, and of course we fixed a meeting three hours later.

And that’s when I spent the vulnerability afternoon chanting Vicky’s mantra and preparing myself for the worst. While the students were taking their written tests I scribbled down any arguments I could use in my defense.  I also put down questions to guide them in their self-reflextion as students. I tried hard to analyse their group and the lessons we’d had till then. Somehow it all seemed to work so well. I remembered content faces and smiling students. So where, where on earth had it gone wrong.

At four in the afternoon I went down, poured myself a good cuppa and decided to plunge into whatever professional life held there for me head on. The girls took their seats in an empty classroom, I closed the door, looked the girls in the eye and said, Before you say anything I want to congratulate you for your courage to come and speak when you feel there is a problem.  So, come one girls, I’m all ears.

I sat down and smiled and waited.

We came to you because we don’t dare to talk to anybody else. We were afraid of other teachers. So we decided to talk to you. We really need help.”

Thankfully I was seated or I would have missed the chair. Thankfully also, I controlled my facial expressions and didn’t let my mouth drop grand open. That enormous was my surprise and, let’s face it, relief!

After the girls had finished, after I had promised to handle their trust with care and talk to people who had the power to act and take far-reaching decisions, I drove back home. My heart, my whole body was weightless, but my head was a busy beehive of thoughts and questions. How had I earned their trust? And once you have it, how to handle such responsibility? I knew exactly who I had to talk to in my turn, but I didn’t want to blurt anything out without carefully honing my words, without making sure this trust wouldn’t be mishandled and violated. I couldn’t let this trust blow back into the girls’ faces with a nasty reaction from someone else. I was thinking of honesty and how fragile that can be. Honesty and trust can become blades that are planted into your back when you’re not looking. But they can be powerful media when given to the right people. How do you know who to trust?

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I was also thinking of my own initial reaction. Why had it been so self-deprecating? Why had I immediately imagined the worst? Why had I feared dissatisfaction and negative feedback? Is it something personal? Or is it part of a bigger picture? Maybe teachers are like that? Just like any creative people who put themselves out into the world, who “get naked” in front of the audience, who lose themselves in the moment? Or simply because their work is to “please” their audience, i.e to make them progress or enjoy themselves, so negative feedback equals work poorly done.

I am glad they came to me, I am happy to be a teacher they dare to confide in and I will not betray their trust. Ever.

And I will continue being amazed at what an incredible life the one of a teacher can be!