Listening to my heart

By - Marcela Harrisberger

Choosing a career is probably the hardest thing we do in life, and as many other teenagers, I did not know I wanted to be a teacher, even though I used to play teacher all the time when I was a child. I loved the way I learned and memorized the content of my tests by pretending to teach. It was so much easier to study this way. But as immature as we are at a young age, I only found out my real path when I started studying English.

For me, being an English teacher meant being cool and creative, wearing cool clothes, traveling abroad, a whole cultural package included. And that is how I fell in love with the idea of becoming one.

I worked really hard, studying the language, the books and soon after finishing my English course, I had my first opportunity. I feel a little sorry for my first groups, I did not know exactly what I was doing back then, but I was sure doing my best.

A few years later, I became a coordinator in the school I worked at. It was a real challenge; not only was I dealing with new management issues, but I was also in charge of teaching teachers how to teach. Despite being really demanding, it was also a recognition of the good work I was doing in the classroom.

To fulfill my duties well, I specialized in Educational Psychology, People Management and I took a CELTA training course to improve my teaching skills, as well as to train the teachers at the school. I have never stopped learning and I have always encouraged people around me to continue improving too. In my point of view this is why I have had so many professional opportunities in life.

I spent 15 years working at this school. Although I had the chance to teach once in a while, as a coordinator I mostly dealt with administrative issues, and I suddenly realized I was not really doing what I loved: teaching.

So, one day in April 2014, I decided to listen to my heart and follow my true vocation: being a full time teacher. I stepped down from my coordinator position and started teaching again at the same school. It was quite a shock to everyone, to see me running from one class to the other, instead of being in my room, managing the school. However, all I wanted was the feeling of being alive again, being with students, renewing my energy every time I entered a classroom, learning the trends from the teenagers, and listening to adults talk about their lives. I was in love with my life again.

After working for 15 years at the same place, I knew how things worked, the potential and limitations of that specific workplace, and I certainly wanted more, not only for me, but also for the people I taught. So, in the end of that year, I decided to leave the school and start a career on my own. It was not an easy decision, but with planning and support of my family and friends, I did it. And this turned out to be the best decision I have ever made.

2015 was a very special year for me. I became a certified professional coach, which had been a dream for a while at the time, and I opened my own company, Prime English. After only a few months I had my entire schedule filled with classes and consulting jobs, training teachers and helping schools with management issues.

In 2017, my sister, who is also an English teacher, and I rented an office in a very prestigious neighborhood in the city we live in and we became partners. Now we work together and teach over 100 people. A dream has finally come true, to have our own place to teach and transform lives.

For me, the best part of teaching is the possibility of changing people's lives and helping them reach their own goals. As a coach, I am always looking for ways to motivate my students to be better, not only as English students, but also as people. Every class is a chance to improve, to move forward. I am always thinking about how to help my students develop. It is really rewarding to see them progress and know that it is because of my hard work and effort. This is what keeps me moving.

All in all, being a teacher is being a life changer, and in order to do it well, I believe it is important to continue improving and never stop developing as a professional. It is essential to take teacher-training courses, to get language certificates, to travel abroad, to study the language, to prepare classes. Everything we do is a way to boost our knowledge. Teachers cannot settle for "I think that is enough, I do not need to learn anymore". When we stop progressing, we are dying.

Some teachers complain about not making enough money to live or that they make an unfair salary for all the work they do. Qualified teachers do not feel this way because their worth and effort are recognized by schools and by private students. It is possible to do what we love and earn a competitive salary. But as any other profession, we need to deserve it.

As teachers, we need to continue improving. That is what brought us here, that is what should take us beyond.

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