It all comes down to PASSION

The Dogme Blog Challenge Nº6 is out, and even though at the beginning I thought it was going to be rather controversial, up to now they have all got to the same conclusion.  In Cecilia’s words:

Being an effective teacher – whether in an unplugged setting or not – is not about being (or not) a NEST.

Henrick Oprea and Richard seem to agree with her, and me too of course. They have clarified perfectly well the differences between the NEST and NNEST and what each of them brings to the classroom. I am not going to go more deeply into this topic in order not to be repetitive.  To me, it doesn’t matter whether you are a NEST or a NNEST, what really matters is wether you are passionate or not about teaching. Here, you can see a graph of what the main elements that an EST, with or without N =), should have are:

Passion is the key element for happiness in life, and it is even more necessary if you are in the teaching field. If you are passionate about what you are doing, you wouldn’t mind getting up early in order to go to school (even if you are a night owl like me!), you would learn how to live on low salaries, you would do your job with a smile on your face (most of the time, at least, we are not walking clowns after all), and the most important of all, you would care for your leaners. You would listen to them and not just hear them as Ceci pointed out in this post. This is one of the Dogme premises: build your class catering for your students needs, interests, passions. How can you aim at this if you don’t pay attention to your students? You would also sympathise with their insecurities and problems, and therefore, know when to stand firm and when to apologise. You would really try hard to move your students beyond their comfort zone to challenge their confidence so they can become more confident.

Apart from that, passion is the motor that pushes you to become better. It encourages you to try harder in order to become a better educator (and not just an English teacher), to take risks and try new things. You wouldn’t be giving Dogme a try if you were afraid of risks.  I’m almost sure both NEST and NNEST find the idea of giving students more control and more class plans flexibility totally scary at the beginning.

Furthermore, Passionate educators are not afraid of  making mistakes, as they can learn a lot from them (the most useful inventions resulted from mistakes!). And most important of all, they have a good attitude towards students mistakes. Smart, self-motivated, hard-working, wide-awake students don’t need to be taught. They are the other ones that need always to be taken into account. Good teachers always reflect upon their teaching, and wonder especially, what they did wrong for those one or two students who are demotivated or at a loss in their class.

Finally, Passionate teachers are always busy, and this is not because of the amount of classes they have to teach. They prefer to be busy and know that the work of good teaching expands to fill every moment they can give it. When they are not writing in their blogs, they are planning classes, marking exams, interacting with their PLN, and so on and so forth (does it ring a bell?).

Let's explode the myth


Summing up, and trying to answer Karenne’s questions:

What do you think? Are Non Native English Speaking teachers disadvantaged?

Yes, they are.  But only because we humans beings tend to be prejudiced. Let’s explode the myth “that only native-speaker teachers can feel fully comfortable in this unplanned teaching mode”. Dogme teaching just requires a passionate teacher in front of the classroom. I have already described what are the traits that a passionate teacher has and how why they are necessary in a dogme class.  I really believe these characteristics can be found in both NEST and NNEST teachers. But Unfortunately, not in all of them


Posted on November 16, 2010, in Reflections on Tefl/tesl and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Excellent reflections, Sabrina! You are, of cours, completely right. On Cecilia’s post my comments concentrated more on the language ability side of things, but I agree with you that passion, care, motivation and willingness to learn are more important. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    • Thank you Michelle for passing by. Language ability is an important part though, but i didn’t want to repeat Cecilia’s ideas.

  2. A lovely post, and I agree, passion makes the difference. Would you say that you either are or you aren’t, perhaps in life in general?

    • Hi David, as usual it is a pleasure to have you here. Yes, I think that passion is really important in life in general. If you are not passionate in your daily life, I imagine that you end up wondering why you are here after all. Life becomes meaningless. Or at least, that is what happens to me. Maybe, I’m wrong. What do you think? I love passionate people, they can transmit me their love for what they are doing. I’m so permeable to passionate people, that I end up liking things I would never have imagined I would be interested in. jajaj

      • Wow David! I loved it- Thanks for sharing. This was my favourite part, so true:
        “I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

  3. Passion means so much more than long hours grading papers. As you stated in your post, it means looking at the couple of students who are not getting it and figuring out a way to reach them. For if we reach them… all other students will benefit.
    The difference I always say is between those educators who see it is a teaching job with a paycheck and those of us who see what we do each day as being a professional educator with the paycheck just being one piece of the puzzle.
    If only all educators operated with even close to 40% passion for the work they do each day – maybe that is the key to changing American education.

    • Hi Paige! Thanks for passing by! Passion changes everything I believe. Of course, with more passionate teachers, we would have a better education system, and we would manage to help all those students who are just not getting it. We should just keep working passionately, and when the passion disappears (it may happen), I think we should find something else to do. Something that really fulfills our needs at the moment. We shouldn’t be afraid of change.

  4. Thanks for reminding me! It is a passion for teaching and for language learning in general that drives me to get involved in it as much as I have. Sometimes I forget that when I dread the marking I have to do (that’s especially this awkward period of the academic year when I’m still marking student work from midterms and finals are just a few weeks away!).

    It’s very supportive to read posts like this and the comments in reply–a helpful renewal of the passion I have too.

    • Dear Tyson! I can see from your wonderful blog that you are a passionate teacher. Fortunately, we are not alone, quite the contrary we are becoming a big crowd. It’s true what you say, we sometimes tend to forget why we are doing this. I sometimes find myself in the middle of the class (which is most probably in the middle of chaos =)) wondering: Why am I doing this? Why not just working at an office? It’s just a passing moment, the reward comes soon: seeing my students progressing, their laughs, their kisses and hugs, and their jokes if they are older. At that moment I realise that that is my place, I just love my job so much that I couldn’t possibly be doing something different.

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