"It all comes down to PASSION" by Sabrina De Vita.

We’re really thrilled that Sabrina De Vita agreed to share this excellent post with us, and we are looking forward to more guest posts from her in the future. You might be wondering who Sabrina is. It might be easier if I pass the baton to her. This is how she describes herself on her blog: “I’m Sabrina De Vita and I’m from Buenos Aires, Argentina. I’m an English teacher. I have studied at the teacher training college Joaquin V Gonzalez. At the moment, I’m working  at a state primary school for adults and for kids. I also work in company. Finally, I give online classes. And, yeah, I think that’s pretty much it.”

Short and sweet, I’d say.

The post we are sharing here was originally written by Sabrina in 2010 for The Dogme Blog Challenge No 6  in November 2010 and entitled “It all comes down to PASSION”. You can still read it on Sabrina’s blog here. You can also find the post and many other truly excellent and passionate ones in our Useful Links section. Sabrina answers the question whether NNESTs are at an disadvantage when teaching DOGME.

I only came across Sabrina’s post a few weeks back, and I was immediately taken by her style and enthusiasm. I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading it as well. And don’t forget to comment below. We’d love to hear what you think.

So without much further ado, here it is:

“The Dogme Blog Challenge Nº6 is out, and even though at the beginning I thought it was going to be rather controversial, up to now they have all got to the same conclusion. In Cecilia’s words:

Being an effective teacher – whether in an unplugged setting or not – is not about being (or not) a NEST.

Henrick Oprea and Richard seem to agree with her, and me too of course. They have clarified perfectly well the differences between the NESTs and NNESTs and what each of them brings to the classroom. I am not going to go more deeply into this topic in order not to be repetitive.  To me, it doesn’t matter whether you are a NEST or a NNEST, what really matters is whether you are passionate or not about teaching. Here, you can see a graph of what the main elements that an EST, with or without N =), should have:

Passion is the key element for happiness in life, and it is even more necessary if you are in the teaching field. If you are passionate about what you are doing, you wouldn’t mind getting up early in order to go to school (even if you are a night owl like me!), you would learn how to live on low salaries, you would do your job with a smile on your face (most of the time, at least, we are not walking clowns after all), and the most important of all, you would care for your learners. You would listen to them and not just hear them as Ceci pointed out in this post. This is one of the Dogme premises: build your class catering for your students needs, interests, passions. How can you aim at this if you don’t pay attention to your students? You would also sympathise with their insecurities and problems, and therefore, know when to stand firm and when to apologise. You would really try hard to move your students beyond their comfort zone to challenge their confidence so they can become more confident.

Apart from that, passion is the motor that pushes you to become better. It encourages you to try harder in order to become a better educator (and not just an English teacher), to take risks and try new things. You wouldn’t be giving Dogme a try if you were afraid of risks.  I’m almost sure both NESTs and NNESTs find the idea of giving students more control and more class plans flexibility totally scary at the beginning.

Furthermore, passionate educators are not afraid of  making mistakes, as they can learn a lot from them (the most useful inventions resulted from mistakes!). And most important of all, they have a good attitude towards students mistakes. Smart, self-motivated, hard-working, wide-awake students don’t need to be taught. They are the other ones that need always to be taken into account. Good teachers always reflect upon their teaching, and wonder especially, what they did wrong for those one or two students who are demotivated or at a loss in their class.

Finally, passionate teachers are always busy, and this is not because of the amount of classes they have to teach. They prefer to be busy and know that the work of good teaching expands to fill every moment they can give it. When they are not writing in their blogs, they are planning classes, marking exams, interacting with their PLN, and so on and so forth (does it ring a bell?).

Let’s explode the myth

Summing up, and trying to answer Karenne’s questions:

What do you think? Are Non Native English Speaking teachers disadvantaged?

Yes, they are.  But only because we humans beings tend to be prejudiced. Let’s explode the myth “that only native-speaker teachers can feel fully comfortable in this unplanned teaching mode”. Dogme teaching just requires a passionate teacher in front of the classroom. I have already described what are the traits that a passionate teacher has and how and why they are necessary in a dogme class.  I really believe these characteristics can be found in both NEST and NNEST teachers. But Unfortunately, not in all of them”

PS: If you’d like to write a guest post for the blog, or become a regular contributor, please contact us with your ideas. We’d love to
hear from you!

0 thoughts on “"It all comes down to PASSION" by Sabrina De Vita.

  1. MOrs says:

    I believe that we are humans after all and it's ok to be tired and frustrated sometimes whether it's because of overworking or rowdy students. As professionals we should be careful not to show this though, but smiling all the time isn't realistic either. I do teach DOGME to my high school students and I don't feel that I'm at a disadvantage for not being a NNEST. Although my lessons aren't always based on course books and they're rather conversation driven, they still require planning and a lot of predicting as to where the activity might lead. As long as I feel confident to handle whatever might come up during the lesson I feel good, and judging from the feedbacks my students as well.

  2. Michael Jones says:

    I think the term 'passion' is vastly overused, not only in EFL but the world of work in general – a job advert which requires applicants to be 'passionate' is one which would turn me off immediately. 'Passion' means intense emotion or enthusiasm for something, and if I went into a lesson (or a non-teaching job) like that I'd burn myself out within twenty minutes – as the article says, we are not walking clowns.

    I think passion is widely confused with commitment; if I am given a job, I will be committed to it – which means that I will dedicate as much time and care as is necessary to do the job to the best of my ability, and put up with any bits of it I don't like (early starts/late finishes/boring marking etc.) in order to enjoy the bits I do. It doesn't mean that I'll bounce around the place exuding boundless enthusiasm, and I can't think of many teachers I've known who do.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I have been teaching English for over 40 years and I agree with you.Though I am retired I still teach a few hours a day and I rarely feel exhausted.I think my sense of commitment and obligation is due to my passion for teaching. Before retirement I used to teach 8 hours a day and I was full of energy at the end of my working day.

  4. Marek Kiczkowiak says:

    Hi Michael,
    Thanks for your comment.
    I can see your point. For me being passionate about teaching, though, is closer to: 'I love my job'. Of course, if you take it to mean what you describe, I agree. But I think, as Sabrina points out in the article, we're not walking clowns, and I guess her meaning is closer to how you describe commitment (at least that's how I see it).
    I totally agree that as teachers we shouldn't be expected to exude endless enthusiasm. In fact, I don't think any professional should be. But whatever you call the feeling (passion, commitment, love, etc.), you will know it when you meet a teacher who's really 'passionate' about what they're doing. You can just sense it from the way they conduct their classes. It might be difficult to name, but I think some teachers do have this spark of contagious enthusiasm (not sure if it's the most important thing about a teacher, though).
    What do you reckon?


  5. Marek Kiczkowiak says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, MOrs.
    Definitely teaching can be frustrating sometimes, but as you say, we should pretend (at least in front of our students) that it isn't. We're all human beings, though, and at times it might be difficult to contain your frustration, anger, etc.
    Great to hear you're comfortable teaching DOGME. Do you prefer it to other methods?


  6. Marek Kiczkowiak says:

    Thanks for your comment.
    It's great to hear that after so many years in the business, you still love what you're doing. Could you share any advice, e.g. how come you haven't burnt out?

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