Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Aspiring to Inspire! From teaching to… educating - Report on Alexandros Agathangelidis, Maria Gourmou, Evanthia Kanonidou, Iro Sapouna, Despina Sarantidou, Persefoni Tyfliori and Dr Paschalia Patsala's Session

On 26 March 2016, within the scope of the 23rd TESOL Macedonia-Thrace, Northern Greece Annual International Convention with the theme "Beyond Teaching - Inspiring Others", a group of students (attending the BA in English Language and Linguistics Programme at the International Faculty of the University of Sheffield, CITY College) delivered a talk with the title "Aspiring to Inspire! From teaching to… educating". Ushered by their Lecturer, Dr Paschalia Patsala, the presenters: Alexandros Agathangelidis, Maria Gourmou, Evanthia Kanonidou, Iro Sapouna, Despina Sarantidou and Persefoni Tyfliori made a clear distinction between the concepts of 'teaching' and 'educating.' 

Our speakers firstly defined the term "to inspire" and listed the characteristics of a real educator. Among others, they emphasized the importance of hard work and willingness to help. A real educator should be disciplined himself/herself and set a good example for the students. They should have high expectations and standards and with their practices bring out the best of their students. Dedication and creativity are among other characteristics mentioned by our presenters. The human element is also very important; therefore an educator knows how to build rapport with their students and creates an environment in each students feel safe. Finally, a true educator is passionate about their work and loves what they do.

Since building rapport is one of the important characteristics of an inspiring educator, the six speakers focused on some of the techniques used for building and maintaining rapport with students. An inspiring educator applies teaching strategies which can be matched with different learning styles and cares for students learning difficulties. Another important element is feedback students received from their instructors. Such is the power of feedback that no wonder our presenters referred to providing it properly as "art". Empathy and respect were among the last characteristics mentioned by the presenters. Inspiring educators bond with the students and are compassionate. Even things as simple as asking how they feel, matter. Last but not least, a real educator is open-minded and treats each student with respect, regardless of the color, creed or origin.

                                                                                                                                                                               Photo by Margarita Kosior

Finally, the presenters reminded us that a road from being a teacher to being an educator is not all roses, and it can be a bumpy one. But it is worth it.  
Alexandros, Maria, Evanthia, Iro, Despina and Persefoni echoed the words of Rita Pierson in her TED talk "We are born to make a difference" and left us with an important message: We, as educators, have the power to change the world!

Report by Margarita Kosior

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