Greatness in teaching profession comes from passion. Teachers can be better and greater when they act from passion. Passion drives teachers to excel despite the inevitable hurdles and challenges they have to face along the way. Teaching these days, especially the teaching of English as second or foreign language, has always been challenging. From dealing with the ever-evolving curriculum and requirements set by the Ministry of Education, it seems like there is always something new in the teaching profession. In this demanding teaching world, are English teachers still passionate to teach?
If we look around us, I am positive we will be able to see English Language teachers who are passionate about their teaching. However, we cannot deny the fact that there is a handful of teachers who have or almost lost their passion to teach well.
Although it may be difficult at times, teachers must hold on to the passion that once brought them to the job in the first place. Teacher burnout is a real thing that happens to a lot of teachers; even the younger ones. As mentioned above, teaching is not always a picnic, and there will be days during which some teachers may want to give up. When that happens, those teachers have to push themselves through it and try to be as positive as possible.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF HAVING PASSION TO TEACH
No doubt, even the best, most respected “super” teachers also have bad teaching days. It is understood that teaching is a very demanding work; teaching English in certain contexts can be emotionally, physically and mentally draining. However, our passion can make a difference and prevent us from simply making an easy surrender. That is why ESL teachers need to keep on burning their passion due to these reasons:
Passion Gives a Spark that Drives Teachers to Excel
Teachers who are passionate about their work love what they do. They always want to work hard, explore new territories, learn along the way, and achieve more than what they have ever accomplished before. The passion which they have will give a spark that drives them to always do their level best. They always aim for the stars.
Passion Pushes Teachers to Go Extra Mile
Teachers who have high passion will always put extra efforts to do more than what they should. They may engage in classroom research to understand more about certain issues in their classroom. They also do not mind spending extra hours for personal coaching. Moreover, they are also willing to invest their precious time preparing special modules for their learners. Those teachers are always willing to go beyond their responsibilities to help their learners learn better.
Passion Enhances Quality Teaching
Passion always pushes teachers to perform their best. Learning will always be fun and meaningful. Passion will drive teachers to apply the best teaching pedagogy, strategy or tools in ensuring effective learning takes place. Their ongoing efforts to refine and make their teaching up-to-date will always give the desired impacts and produce the targeted results.
Passion Makes Teachers to Persevere
With their passion, teachers ignore their fatigue as well as frustrations and regard obstacles as challenges. Their perseverance enhances their patience too. They do not easily give up but keep striving for the best till they achieve success. Passionate teachers always determine to give the best despite all the hiccups and challenges they have to face.
HOW TO DEVELOP AND SUSTAIN PASSION TO TEACH
Educating learners is more than just a job for passionate teachers, it is a way of life. From seeing a learner’s face light up with clear understanding and watching learners dive into new worlds through literature lessons, teachers with passion derive great joy from seeing their students grow and learn. How can ESL teachers develop and sustain their passion to teach?
Set the Right Intention to Work
No matter what religion is embraced, I believe teachers must set a clear intention or purpose of becoming a teacher. We should become a teacher with the noble and sincere aims of helping others, promoting meaningful learning among our learners as well as rendering the best service to mankind. For Muslims, the “niat” or intention of going to work of course should be for the sake of Allah the Almighty. When this resolution is held firmly, in shaa Allah, the Almighty will make it easy for us. This resolution will also keep our passion to do our best all the time.
Remind Ourselves – “This is My Livelihood / Rezeki Ku Di Sini”
As teachers we should always remind ourselves that we are paid for every minute we spend in class. Each minute and hour requires us to make sure learning takes place. Therefore, our teaching should make a difference in our learners’ lives. In short, we need to love each moment we spend with our learners in class. I am not saying all our learners must get an A+ for English but we have done them justice if our English lessons are able to promote learning such as enhancing their communication skills and improving their confidence to write.
Focus More on What Excites You in the Classroom
There must be something that excites you or your learners. To get the exact answer of course you need to explore. Your interest and strength could be conducting lessons using the latest gadgets or ICT. It could also be what your learners love the most. When there is a match between what you and your learners favour, both parties will have great experiences and moments in ESL classrooms. Similarly, if applying project based learning is your cup of tea, go ahead as you will have the energy and passion to do your best. Always do what excites you as that will definitely burn your passion to teach.
Don’t Be Shy to Get Support from Others
Teachers are also humans who sometimes cannot cope with all the challenges alone. We should not be shy or scared to approach someone for help. The person could be our best friend, colleague, administrator or anybody whom we know might be able to help. Depending on who they are, their assistance could be in the form of giving moral support, offering sound professional advice or motivating us to persevere. In short, their supportive acts can help us sustain our passion to teach during our hard times.
Take Time for Ourselves
Most of the time, teachers are so occupied with their jobs and families that they forget to take time out for themselves. We need and deserve a break. When we take a moment for ourselves we are allowing ourselves to relax. During this relaxation time, we do not only have some time for fun but we can also reflect upon our life and career, which can help remind ourselves the reason why we became a teacher in the first place. This self-reminder should ignite our passion to teach better.
Try to Understand and Solve the Challenges Faced
Most of the time, the biggest challenge is our disruptive or delinquent learners who often cause us to feel unappreciated, disrespected, and exhausted. Teenagers are teenagers; they lack maturity and wisdom. Some of them come from broken families and are badly influenced by wrong peers. As teachers, we should not allow their disruptive behaviours to kill our passion to teach. If we are overwhelmed by their behavioural problems, the most important thing to do is to take a step back and investigate why these problems are occurring in the first place. We need to understand each issue in depth. The finding could surprise us; it could be the way we teach and treat them.
Establish Good Relationship with Learners
As teachers must not only establish good relationships with our learners. Let our naughty and problematic learners know we care about them. As the saying goes, “No matter how much pedagogy we know, no matter how many degrees we have, unless our learners know that we care, they will not learn from us.” Once the relationship is established, we will care about our learners more and our hope to see them excel will always burn our passion.
Learn to Be Compassionate
Compassionate teachers tend to be tolerant and optimistic. They know that every learner in their class is unique and comes to school with different personal issues or problems. They also know that every child learns differently. Being a compassionate teacher requires you to be thoughtful, kind, understanding and empathetic. When you carry this virtue with you, you will understand your learners better, which in turn will help you be the best that you can be at your job, hence, strengthen your passion to teach them.
As the title of this write-up indicates, we need to ask ourselves – “Is our passion to teach fading or flourishing?” I believe for most ESL teachers, the answer for the question could be both, “Yes, it is fading” and “Yes, it is flourishing”. Why? It is simply because the life of most of ESL teachers, especially those who have to teach in challenging contexts, have its ups and downs. There are tough days that cause their passion to drop and of course there are colourful days when lessons are fruitful.
I also know in some other contexts, some ESL teachers’ passion to teach is dying. For certain reasons, just like the pulse of a dying man, the passion gets weaker and weaker. If this is the case, help and support must be sought from someone immediately. Efforts must be made to reignite the passion to teach. If the ways offered above are not applicable or suitable, keep exploring. Surely there will be other ways and options. The initial passion which is already replaced by frustration, fatigue, or cynicism can still be treated, hopefully.
These “burnout” moments or “the dead passion syndrome” may be temporary though, and they do not necessarily signal the end of one’s career. Teachers who recognize and understand the source of their pessimism should be able to address these issues through adjustments to their work or life. There are so many schools around. Ask for a transfer. Do not get stuck in a school or an environment that kills your passion to teach.
It is a known fact that maintaining your passion is indeed challenging, but if you know how to maintain it and always work hard at it, you will always be a passionate teacher. Again, it is you who know best about your passion meter. If it is fading, it is also you who know best how you can possibly sustain it. You are the best decision maker either to let your passion to teach fade or flourish.