MY TEACHING PHILOSOPHY
I have always been a teacher since I was a little girl playing with dolls and recreating the class environment in my room (I also kept registers with the names of the dolls + puppets and their grades). While in High School classmates gathered at my house to study together and since then I have always helped those who struggle and need help.
This is the reason why I teach and why I love teaching. When I can help children, teenagers and adults to overcome their fears, which is my short term goal, then I am reasonably sure we are on the right path for our long term goal, to work in autonomy, to be able to study efficiently in order to achieve the results teachers require at school.
The path between my short term goal and the long term goal is paved with many small intermediate goals that represent what teachers at school expect from the students that ask my support and, since Learning Disabilities show up in a vast range of similarities and differences, I have to use techniques and styles that are flexible and easy to adjust according to the person I have in front of me.
I teach to students from junior high, high school and university. Sometimes I am called to teach Business English in some companies or in some Professional Schools or Colleges.
As my students usually lack of self-esteem they need constant and positive reinforcements and, since their learning styles are so different but they all have in common a strong long term memory and the tendency to visualize, we perform role games, we tell stories and we create an environment where everyone is accepted and learns how to deal with his or her disability. I always share with them my own school experience, my struggles so they can rely on my example and trust me whenever I am telling them that 'yes, it's hard but it is not impossible'. Teaching them is challenging: I have to expose myself a lot, I have to be a teacher, an educator, a trainer, a psychologist, a linguistic, and everything I could become to help them.
But this is why we are all teaching, right?
Teaching to professionals and executives helps me setting my teaching goals on another, higher level sometimes. I always choose an artefact, a presentation for example, that allows them to manipulate the language in many different ways and to practice some basic skills that are mandatory in a business environment: public speaking, writing, some IT skills and so on.
Generally speaking, my teaching style is very communicative and open to what I can learn from my students. It is not always easy to motivate them but I always try to do my best.
I always use a lot of visuals and technology: tablets, IWB, OHP, maps, atlas, historical atlas, flashcards (I like the Usborne editions), apps, ebooks, coloured pens, pencils and felt tip pens, highlighters and so on.
I have the feeling that students learn better when they are physically connected with the subject and this enhances their engagement.
Teaching to students with Learning Disabilities means that your learners may not have a strong short time memory. My language is warm, I must be patient and be their guide all the time since they may not be able to infer. Talking about how much time I spend teaching and how much time I allow them to practice the language, I have to admit that it depends on what we are learning.
It is not always easy to motivate them: I tell them that they have to find their inner motivations that no one can take away from them and everything they are learning at school now will come back in the future.
Over the years I have written a book, some short stories, many articles, gave interviews and was nominated for some awards. All this material was scattered around the web. Now I have finally decided to gather it in this blog which is the portrait of what I did and why I did it.