'How long have you been teaching?'
'What did you do before you were a teacher?'
FAQs that are asked by many students of their teachers.
In my experience very few English language teachers have always worked in this area. Many have worked in teaching and education, but a lot of others have had very different jobs beforehand. Amongst my colleagues at EC Brighton, there are teachers who have had former careers in such diverse fields as catering, banking, landscape gardening and nursing, not forgetting a number of musicians, actors and other artists. I work closely with an ex-ballet dancer, another who used to manage a tattoo and piercing shop, and have I mentioned the rocket scientist? True! We have a teacher who works with us from time to time who used to be a rocket scientist. I do hope to work with a brain surgeon someday!
All of our teachers are well qualified in this, their current chosen career, and most of our teachers have travelled widely and have experience and an appreciation of the many cultures in this world, which helps them understand what it's like to be a stranger in a foreign land and just how exciting, strange and sometimes difficult it can be. Especially when coming to study.
Now, what's a teacher's typical day at EC Brighton like? The first class begins at 9am, and teaching staff tend to get to school to prepare by around 8.30. We teachers have already planned what we're going to do by Monday for the coming week, but flexibility is the key and planned lessons can change as the week progresses. Adapting to the needs of our students is more important than sticking to a rigid plan. And besides, we like to exchange ideas with each other and catch up over coffee; we’re a sociable bunch and get on well together.
The first class finishes at 10.30am for the morning break, the next class is from 11-12.30pm, and an additional / optional intensive class from 1.00 - 2.30pm. During the breaks, aside from adapting lesson plans, and having coffee, we help out students with any queries they might have, so the breaks fly by in a blink of an eye. After the intensive lessons, we offer free classes to students where they can brush up their pronunciation, produce a CV or go to a lecture, which is particularly useful for those students wishing to go to university in the UK. And let's not forget that we teachers also need to keep our skills up to date, we have regular professional development training sessions after school too.
But of course it's not all work! Every Thursday it's 'Pub Night', for the teachers and students to get together, and chat in relaxed surroundings of one of the many pubs in Brighton...oh and to have a few pints too!
Let's face it, it's Friday tomorrow!
By Tim, English teacher at EC Brighton English School