by Michael Griffin
This is a post mostly about me. One teacher plays a very prominent role here but she will remain nameless. Perhaps she would prefer the anonymity anyway. She is quite humble.
I’m not even sure when or how we met. I only know it was online. I’m guessing it was in 2012. Late 2012, probably. I know iTDi was somehow involved. If I recall correctly, she took the “English for Teachers” course at some point. She now regularly takes advanced iTDi courses. I don’t actually remember any of our initial interactions. It was as though, all of a sudden, she was there and she’d been there all along. I do remember having a great impression of her from the very start even though I don’t know exactly when that was.
Although I have never met this teacher in person I have been lucky enough to hear her speak in webinars as well as video and audio recordings. In these moments, her compassion could be clearly seen and heard. Her compassion and passion are also clear in her writing. Her blog is one of the few blogs I make sure there are no other tabs or windows open on my computer before reading because I want to savor every word.
Although I have never met her face-to-face I have bonded with other teachers sharing our respect and admiration for her both on and offline. My opinion of others changes when I learn they know, like and interact with her. Just three days ago I was meeting someone in person for the first time and he mentioned how welcoming, kind, knowledgeable, and helpful she is. She is a connector, whether she is in the room or not.
Although we have never met in “real life” we talk online on Twitter and Facebook. We don’t chat all that often but in our conversations seem to pick up right where we left off before things like sleep, work, and life got in in the way. A few times a quick clarification or question on Facebook turned into an hours-long conversation. On these occasions it was easy to lose track of time because of the interesting and honest conversations we had about teaching, development and our respective contexts.
She has helped me see many things in different ways and I think she is a great model of how to communicate effectively and honestly with those we disagree with. I see her as a positive force and a non-selfish person in world where this is too rare. She has helped me to consider the reasons behind decisions made by myself and others even if the answers are not always pretty or flattering.
One of the most important things she has helped remind me of is the realities of many teachers around the world when it comes to money and time. As an example, flying off to the IATEFL or TESOL Conferences is not realistic for many teachers around the world. Similarly, having the latest fancy tools and gadgets for teaching is impossible for many teachers. She has helped remind me of such realities. It is very easy to fall into certain bubbles and ignore much more important issues happening in the field. I appreciate her helping me see this more clearly.
In terms of teaching, her views on giving students choice and autonomy are things I consider throughout my teaching and planning. I cannot always implement as much student choice as I’d like to but it is something I keep in mind more often now. I feel more capable of finding small ways of doing so.
I am filled with gratitude when I think about her and all the other fantastic teachers I have met online. She is a wonderful model of passion, empathy, kindness, compassion, humility, and honesty so I sincerely thank her for that. She is also a great model of being onto others what we want others to be. I thank her for being a fellow learner, fellow traveler and fellow human.
If I were to share a private and personal message to her (publicly on this blog) I would say that there is hope and that good can still win. The world just needs more people like her sharing their light.