Careful attention, high self-esteem and confidence, and constructive thoughts support me to perform at the expected level of teachers and get their respect as one of their favorite teacher educators.
I enjoyed teaching both young and adult learners. I remember the students bursting into laughter so louder that the teacher from the next classroom used to see my class and say, “Yes, Gopal sir is there.”
I retorted they were making fun as I was in their classroom. One of the reasons teaching is my favorite job is that I enjoy teaching because the learners enjoy learning through my teaching.
The days when I was teaching in school were really joyful as we had the opportunity to interact with diverse groups of students.
I often allowed students to chat informally at the beginning of the class for about five minutes. Sometimes, students said, “Sir, let’s study. This much chatting for today.”
“Really? If you want to study, open page number 26,” would be my response. Then there was again a peal of laughter.
After that, the students were happy to be engaged in the activities. I came to know that if the students are ready to learn, the learning is better facilitated. ‘Willingness’ to learn is the essential factor that ensures motivation and practical learning. If the students can chat informally, they are relaxed and emotionally ready to do the learning work.
There was an unforgettable student who used to enter the classroom 10 – 15 minutes late and used to nap soon. The students used to inform me, pointing to her. I used to put my forefinger on my lip to gesture to everyone to keep quiet. Then for about five minutes, I used to keep the class calm. Then, I used to tell her something that made her wake up. She usually studied for half period only and passed the notoriously famed ‘iron-gate examination’ SLC in her first attempt. This girl taught me to understand student’s problems and try to reduce their anxiety with a supportive classroom environment. The girl used to work for a family. I could easily imagine when she could go to bed, and, therefore, she kept napping in the classroom.
I enjoyed teaching young children when I received an offer to serve as a teacher educator at Educational Training Center (ETC) Palpa and conducted training sessions for all school teachers.
It was really challenging to lead sessions with the senior colleagues. I had to deliver sessions to the really honorable teachers. I was worried about standing in front of them. I couldn’t flee away. I decided to survive successfully in this shifted role of teacher to teacher educator.
I had received some opportunities to expand my professional horizon as the Life Member of Nepal English Language Teacher’s Association (NELTA) and also received training of trainers (TOT) from the National Center for Educational Development (NCED). I’m highly indebted to NCED and NELTA for my professional growth at the beginning of my journey as a teacher educator.
I realized the value of becoming a member of a professional network like NELTA because I improved a lot by attending various training and conferences and leading professional activities under its banner. I often try implementing or replicating the activities or learning points of the TOT or training or seminars in my classes. The sponsors like NCED, NELTA, and teachers trusted me as a true disciple of professionalism.
This supported me getting nominated for Hornby Program, a two-week-long British Council sponsored package, and six weeks of ELT training at English and Foreign Language University (EFLU) Hyderabad sponsored by the Regional English Language Office (RELO) New Delhi. NELTA had kindly offered me these opportunities.
The profile helped me get an appointment as an on-call trainer for Connecting Classrooms and other projects of the British Council. I didn’t receive these offers only. I served as the founding chair of the NELTA Palpa branch and worked as NELTA Central Committee Member, and still working as Senior Vice President of the NELTA Lumbini Province Committee.
I completed CELTA and could win teaching excellence and achievement (TEA) Fellowship in 2013 and got seven weeks of learning opportunities in the USA.
“I’m proud of you, Gopal.” These words of Prof. Jesse of Appalachian State University still ring in my ear.
I got professional visits to attend the conferences at Dhaka and Colombo. “You’re my little honey bonny,” the country director of British Council, Dhaka, repeated these words many times, referring to my professional growth and contributions.
All these professional engagements were possible due to professional networking. Why was I offered these professional learning opportunities? Why could I apply and receive these professional job opportunities? I sometimes reflect on my career progress. I find some genuine reasons: implementation of lessons learned, professional investment for supporting ELT and school community, leading professional and career institutions, winning the trust of like-minded institutions, and engaging in professional activities.
I often pass the time writing. I’ve published ELT reference books for primary and secondary levels and write articles on ELT and contemporary educational issues. I’ve contributed to the Journal of NELTA, edited ELT Journals, and published travelogue in English.
I’ve written optional English series Grade 1-5, which are distributed all over the country. I’ve found people honor me as a writer. If I had not tried to write more, I couldn’t have got the opportunities to enrich my professional performance. During the company of national and international scholars across these institutions and their activities, I learned the English language, classroom activities, instructions to set up and manage tasks and replicated them in my contexts.
I got a lot of practice, and sometimes I couldn’t maintain the pace of learning and fail. I got more pleasant notes than sad ones, although I realized I had to make a lot of improvements.
Leading training courses for the teachers helped me grow some qualities, including well-preparedness, active listening and providing opportunities to share their ideas and respect them, present contents of immediate application in novel ways, and keep motivation high with a humorous presentation.
I continued openness and freedom to share in the classes, which is appreciated well, maintaining discipline with straightforward instructions.
Once, we decided to clap when a latecomer entered. My former staff was late, and everybody clapped for him. It annoyed him so much that I had to cancel this policy to cool him down. I’ve observed such practices are taken seriously or as fun depending upon the emotional position of an individual.
I stopped doing anything at the moment but began punching comments sometime in the feedback session. For example, when a group was working slowly, I’d say this group follows Ram, the latecomer.
Session delivery becomes effective if the trainer asks the participants time and again to reflect on what they have learned so far. I generally confirm learning by asking the teachers to reflect and evaluate the relevance of the activities in their classroom contexts. I designed a teaching poems session that included different critical thinking activities.
The tasks were designed very carefully. The True/False items could be argued both as true and false, but I had to debate with the teachers who believed it must be true or false.
I didn’t declare anyone and accepted both. I tried this item with three groups of Secondary level English teachers, but I was not satisfied with the teacher responses and had to stop sharing the thing.
This is a bitter reality that sometimes truth should be suspended until an opportune moment prevails. I also learned that no innovation works well unless the implementers are ready to apply it.
People also tend to resist change if it challenges their existing beliefs. They don’t like to take risks if they are doing the job efficiently.
This case taught me to innovative implant ideas after creating a comfortable context. I’ve learned to learn both from external sources like books, training, courses, and experiences of professional practices. Learning and sharing lessons are critical factors of professional growth.