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EC Oxford Teacher Spotlight: Agnieszka Gurbin

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Choose to improve your English at EC Oxford and you could learn from Agnieszka, one of friendly teachers.

Background information:

I am originally from Poland, moving here around 4 years ago. I am a DELTA-qualified teacher, coach and lecturer. I hold a PhD in Polish humanities, an MA in English language and literature, a BA in linguistics and a Qualified Teacher Status accreditation. I also have coaching qualifications, which I obtained by finishing Postgraduate International Coaching Studies. I enjoy skiing, jazz music and I am quite the filmaholic.

Years spent teaching: 11 years

What made you decide to become a teacher?

I originally saw a disparity in Poland between communities that had access to a higher level of education, and communities that struggled moving up on the social mobility ladder. I felt it was necessary to become involved to help level the dynamic.

What’s the thing you love most about teaching English at EC?

Apart from a great and friendly atmosphere at EC Oxford, there is this fantastic international mixture of students and staff, that makes you feel very welcome, this inspires me. There is also a strong support network and you are given the tools to become a better teacher.

What makes teaching at EC so special?

First of all, it is the people. There are fantastic and inspiring colleagues around me to draw positive energy from, there is friendly and supportive management, and the students are so enthusiastic about learning. Secondly, there is excellent state of the art technology to utilize. The school is beautiful and modern, and a pleasure to work in. Thirdly, there is plenty of opportunities for creativity, personal development and fun. For instance, In February 2017 I took part in a voluntary mission to Cambodia, which was one of the most rewarding experiences I have been involved with. And in 2016 I did an EC-sponsored sky-diving jump which was so much fun! J

What’s one thing you’ve learned from a student that really stands out?

I learn from my students every day. I love learning about cultural similarities and differences. For instance, I learnt that the Valentine’s Day in Japan is celebrated differently than in the UK and on that day it is women who give men chocolates. My students in Saudi Arabia taught me about the world’s largest dish – whole stuffed camel. And one of my students, Sarah, couldn’t believe that I didn’t know the writer – Roald Dhal and insisted I should read one of his short stories. Which I did! and use now in my teaching J

What is your favourite story about a student/teaching?

My favourite story is about the play we put on for the students in December 2017. It was Charles Dickens’s Christmas Carol and all the teachers and staff members revised the script for weeks and unmercifully made fun of me due to the fact that I was given the easiest non-speaking role – the Ghost of Christmas Future. I was given the easiest role because I was at the end of my Delta Diploma, which was taking all of my free time. However, on the day of the performance, one of our colleagues lost her voice and was unable to act. I had to quickly learn her lines and get on stage! I finally got my speaking part J and played both the ghost of Christmas Past and The Ghost of Christmas Future. I forgot one of my lines to the amusement of the students J I had so much fun playing The Ghost of Christmas Future. I was wearing a mask and there were especially made laser eyes attached to it. I was holding a switch in my hand to switch them on for the dramatic effect. Unfortunately, I was not being able to see where I was going, and I was bumping into the tables, adding a humorous twist to the gruesome character of The Ghost of Christmas Future.

What do you think makes a good teacher?

I believe that a good teacher inspires students to achieve their highest potential. It is also important to be truly empathetic as this promotes confidence and allows a teacher to interact and engage with students bringing the best out of both.

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