Hello Exam Seekers,
Let me ask you an important question: How much knowledge do you have? Okay, let me reformulate: How much English do you know? Does it make it any easier to answer?
Well, this question might seem very simple – and easier than the first question –, because we have the Common European Framework of Reference to assess ourselves. Therefore, if you have taken any of the Cambridge English certificates, you can pinpoint and describe the amount of English knowledge you have easily… In theory, at least.
Well, some of you reading this blog are teachers, right? Let’s think about the word teacher.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a teacher is someone whose job is to teach. So, as teachers, we are supposed to have all the knowledge about a specific subject to pass it on, right? As English teachers, every little word in the dictionary must be on the tip of our tongues. Or so do the students think. And OH MY GOD, if we don’t actually know something… Some students might lose faith in us, or if they don’t, they start teasing us by saying, “How can you not know, teacher?”, “Miss/Mr., how do you not know this… or that…?”.
It is indeed a fair question, though. What is actually not fair is a teacher’s pay/salary. Teachers in some countries don’t earn enough, but they still have many responsibilities:
- prepare lessons;
- correct activities;
- deliver the lesson;
- pay close attention to students and write reports on them;
- prepare, deliver, and correct tests.
There is so much to do, but very little time to study or take courses. Still, we are expected to have a tremendous amount of knowledge. This is, in fact, unrealistic, especially considering this little time and no financial encouragement to go after teaching development. Anyways…
One thing, however, is having our students thinking about this; another is to start believing in it ourselves. We start thinking that just because of our high CEFR level certificates (like Cambridge C1 Advanced, C2 Proficiency or CELTAs and DELTAs), we have all the knowledge there is to know and that there is nothing else to learn.
This kind of thought leads us to lots of stress. If we come across something we actually don’t know, we might get anxious, and it can affect our minds in a very unpleasant way.
I started thinking about this after reading this article:
Did you know about that? It seems silly if you read it, but in reality, it led me to think that there’s plenty that we actually don’t know (plus, the content of the article is pretty fun, in my opinionJ). Who would think that by not “sounding right,” the word sequence would be actually wrong and that there is a rule and a name for that!!!.
And I am not talking about challenging content or old vocabulary… I’m talking about simpler things that might add something to you.
Once you accept that you don’t really know everything and that there is always room for improvement, your life will definitely get much lighter. You won’t get worked up about any tiny little thing you realize you don’t know, nor will you get stressed or anxious when a student points out things you don’t know. You even might actually tell them, “I am not a human dictionary. I don’t really know everything, but I will research, and so will you. Next class, we can compare our results. What do you think?”
The first step is accepting that you are only human (even though you are a teacher). Then, you have to be a humble human. Nobody knows everything, there’s always room for improvement, and it can come from anywhere: books, articles, professors, teachers, peers, etc. Knowledge can even come from your student. They might know something you don’t or teach you how to make the lesson more accessible for them to learn. Especially if you have been on the road for so long and don’t remember how to go slower/simpler to teach an A2 CEFR level student.
Good teachers are not only teachers but also lifetime students. You should be proud of your certificates, but never convince yourself that you know everything and that you don’t need to know anything else. We still have much to learn in life every day.
I hope this text has helped you to see that not knowing everything is okay J. Now I want to know, what don’t you know and want to learn? Comment in the comment section below.
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Have a great week,