Welcome to the first installment of my storytelling series, “My Journey to Becoming an ELT Teacher.” I hope this series will inspire and motivate you on your teaching journey.
Think Up, the blog on ELT Think Tank, has been quiet for a while. I’ve been busy focusing on my professional career and learning from some fascinating people along the way. But last year, I made a big decision! This year is ELT Think Tank’s 5th anniversary, and I am now going all in. When I decided to start my own educational consulting company, I didn’t know where it would take me.
Through this company, I’ve worked with teachers and schools in Medellín, Colombia, helping them reimagine their English language teaching programs and better support their students. This is how I felt I could take my teaching to the next level.
So, how did I end up teaching English as a foreign language when the first thing I did when I graduated from high school was to enroll in the university in an International Business undergrad program here in Colombia? Well, this is actually where it all started.
Honestly, I started teaching English because I needed the extra money. I had all the ideal qualities of an English teacher at the time (over twenty years ago!). I spoke native English! Yep, that was it. I didn’t hold any kind of title or study to know even the most basic pedagogical strategies, none of that. This is one of those things I’m pleased to see has changed.
I was always passionate about teaching and was drawn to helping others learn and communicate in a new language. However, I was only 16 at the time and had not taken any steps yet to formalize my interest in teaching.
I sure became interested in learning more about teaching after my first class. That’s all it took to get me hooked. I found myself in a classroom with six students, trying to communicate in a thick New York accent while they stared back at me with blank faces. I did my best to draw, act out or explain, in the best possible way, what I wanted to communicate to them, and once they got it, they would work diligently throughout the lesson.
But this made me crave to see my students’ faces light up when they learned something new. During this time, I fell in love with teaching and knew it was what I wanted to do with my career.
As you might have expected, I didn’t graduate in International Business. However, I did finish up to the 8th semester, which helped me land other exciting roles, but that’s another story.
Instead, I did a TESOL and studied tirelessly everything I could about teaching practices, approaches, methods, tools, and strategies. But at a certain point, I felt this wasn’t enough, so I went back to school later in my career and graduated as a licensed English as a Foreign Language teacher not too long ago. Even though this wasn’t until after I had had many exciting roles in the public and private educational sectors in Colombia, crossed paths with some amazing people throughout my career, and truthfully learned from trial and error.
After I graduated, I felt a sense of achievement that was indescribable. I was officially, on paper, a professional at something I loved and had worked in for the past twenty-something years. I was grateful to have such supportive bosses, co-workers, teachers, and students that valued my insatiable curiosity about teaching and learning English all of the years before earning my undergrad degree.
Now, I didn’t stop there. I have set many other professional goals for myself, but I’ll share at least these two with you. First, I wanted to continue learning, so I’m currently on the path to obtaining my Master’s degree in Pedagogical Mediation for English Language Teaching. Second, I want to write and publish, but since I’ve had somewhat of a non-traditional background, I have no experience whatsoever.
So, after over twenty years of teaching, I’m an experienced teacher, teacher trainer, and consultant, but it’s refreshing to take on the new role of a novice researcher. I am learning to find my voice while I share my experiences, challenges, and life lessons from the classroom and in the field with you. All the steps I’ve taken in my professional career have guided me towards founding ELT Think Tank. This educational consulting company aims to provide schools and teachers with the resources, experience, and direction needed to move toward the future of English education and teaching. I hope you’ll come with me on this journey to help me do that and more while I share these experiences with you in this Storytelling Series.
Our journeys as teachers may all look different, but I know many shared experiences can help us connect and will most likely resonate with you. So, if you’re interested in joining me on this journey, stay tuned.
Now, it’s your turn. I’d love to hear from you in the comments section and learn how you started teaching English.
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