This time I would like to share a guest post written by my colleague, teacher, teacher trainer and supervisor, from Saudi Arabia who preferred to stay anonymous.
I have taught English for more than eight years in five different schools and four different regions that are a thousand miles apart. Then I was promoted to an Educational Supervisor of English. I have supervised English teachers for more than five years so far. During those years, I have encountered educators from all different backgrounds. Educators like teachers of different subjects, counselors, principals, supervisors and administrators related to the field of education. I am optimistic by nature and I always say that life is busy, it keeps us busy, and that is amazingly healthy. Personally, I keep myself busy learning. Actually, I learn something new from every conversation I have, every classroom I visit and every meeting or workshop I attend or conduct. I started believing in innovation and change since I came to realize the newer version of me. A new and modified version that was formulated by a single phrase in a casual conversation with a stranger.
Of course, everybody knows that changing a single word would make a totally different meaning; a meaning that usually affects audience. However, imagine that you are the speaker and you are your own audience in the same time. I used to work as an English translator in a government sector for two year before I changed my career. Having a day off, I remember that morning when I was having my coffee and reading my favorite newspaper in a coffee shop that I used to visit. I can remember the fragrance of freshly brewed coffee mixed with the aroma of freshly baked croissants. I was simply enjoying my time there regardless of all the noises that students from a nearby school were making because it was the final exams, which they apparently have finished. I do not know what draw my attention to a conversation between two middle-aged men sitting in the table next to me. “The students are not working hard enough.” One of them said. But, what is unique about this statement? It is a simple sentence that we usually hear and maybe say all the time. What the other man said caught my attention and made me engage in a wonderful thought-provoking conversation.
It turned out that those men were teachers in the school that is near the coffee shop. They were discussing regular stuff about students and their performances. The discussion continued, and was heated when one of them said; the students are not working hard enough. The phrase that was a life changing for me was what the other man said trying to end the discussion. He simply asked his colleague, why did you say the students and not my students? Once I heard those phrases I turned to them and interestedly asked, what is the difference between the two phrases? My question started a conversation that taught me a lot and changed the way I look at things and made me have a different perspective about my career.
Replacing the definite article ‘the’ with the possessive pronoun ‘my’ is not only a basic change in grammar or meaning, but it is a total change in attitude. That was the outcome, which was my interpretation. After this simple conversation, I realized that the words I use have a great impact not only on others but on me as well. Furthermore, when I identify the impact of the words that I articulate, I become more responsible and more conscious about my actions and attitudes. I learned that my actions are my responsibility; my career is my responsibility; my life is my responsibility; and my attitude is my responsibility. Less than a month passed when I decided that I wanted to change my career. I resigned from my previous work as a translator and applied for a position as an English teacher only to be responsible to my students. To be responsible for changing attitudes not only words, responsible for education and responsible for making a positive progressive change wherever I go.
What triggered all of this was a simple phrase that says, my students.
**William Pinar’s “Method of Currere” (1975), according to Wikipedia, ‘encourages educators and learners to undertake an autobiographical examination of themselves‘.