As a conscientious student who always does some research before doing her homework (whose benefits one need to be reminded of from time to time so as for motivation to be sustained!), I browsed the Net for information about how health can affect a teacher’s work before beginning this piece. Surprisingly enough, this is what I immediately stumbled on:
40% of teachers reported having visited their doctor with a stress-related problem in the previous year.
20% of teachers considered they drank too much
15% believed they were alcoholics.
25% suffered from serious stress related health problems including hypertension, insomnia, depression and gastrointestinal disorders.
Upon reading this, it hit me: teachers need to consciously do everything in their power so as not to find themselves in a similar plight. How is effective teaching possible in the context of all the aforementioned problems — especially when sobriety is lacking! This funny thought led me to the following realization: When embarking on a teaching profession, one must be prepared to face all difficulties and demands by discovering ways to renew their energy reserves. This is what I strive to do at the beginning or end of each tiring weekday.
First of all, enriching my educational knowledge by reading various teachers’ blogs and subsequently updating my blog always makes me feel eager to go into class and put these ideas into practice. Seminars, conferences and webinars constitute another great source of inspiration for all educators. A case in point is the iTDi webinar which was held on April 28th.
Also, pursuing an interest plays a crucial role in personal development. For example, whenever I read a good book of Greek or English literature, I invariably end up having more ideas about what material to employ in my next lessons. One of the English books I have recently read is Irvin Yalom’s “When Nietzsche Wept”, which subsequently led me to reflect on personal happiness and urge my adult learners to do the same in a related blog post I prepared for them. The more I read and learn, the more I yearn to share this knowledge with others.
One final activity that relaxes and totally invigorates me is cycling. The feel of the gentle touch of air on my face while cycling in the countryside gives me a unique sense of freedom, motivating me to work equally hard the following day. This sport has, quite unexpectedly, provided me with loads of classroom material, since I used photos of mountainous scenery and cycling equipment as prompts in speaking lessons. To me, every little thing in life, no matter how insignificant it may seem, can constitute EFL material with the proper manipulation.
Above you can admire the view I got to see (Heraklion can be distinguished in the distance) after cycling up a steep hill, sometimes through muddy, craggy paths and small streams, like in the photo below.
In the final analysis, this is what teaching is to me: physically and mentally exhausting and demanding at times, but totally rewarding in the end. Let us all do whatever we can to keep ourselves healthy and motivated so as to enjoy the breathtaking view at the end of the route, side by side with our students.
To round off, I’d like to leave you with these questions:
How often do you spend time expanding your teaching knowledge?
What interest of yours rejuvenates you the most?
Have you ever integrated any material derived from your hobbies into your teaching?