I watched a few  YouTubers’ #DearMe video tags the other day. This is YouTube’s way of celebrating international women’s day and the theme is “what advice would you give your younger you?” I then thought to myself, “Hmmm, I like this! BUT let’s make it a bit different, let’s give it an educational twist. What advice would I give my #youngerteacherself?” So, I decided to write a blog post about that. I also wanted to know what advice other teachers would give their younger selves which is why I am going to tag other educational bloggers at the end of the post and of course link their posts once they are published.

(Two days later and  6 teachers  have already posted their #youngerteacherself posts. Unbelievable!)

So, here goes.

Dear 20-something  Joanna,

I am sending you this letter from the future. I am you. I have been teaching for almost 18 years now, and I think you could use some advice from me, the oldie. I am not sure you will take it, cause well, you can be a bit stubborn from time to time, but I thought I’d give it a shot! I know you love lists and bullet points which is how I will give you my advice :). So, Joanna, here’s my advice.

At University:

  • Choose your major carefully. I know you love literature, but I think it will be better if you major in linguistics and minor in literature. You are an English teacher, you will need linguistics.  Literature, of course,  will make you think and dream, but you really need to go to all the linguistics classes you hate! You need to know more about sounds (phonetics and phonology), so instead of sleeping, wake up and go to class!
  • You have the opportunity to study abroad with Erasmus. Do it. You need to see what it’s like to study in the UK.
  • On a more personal note, these are your student years, instead of staying home and watching video cassettes (yeap, I am old), go out! Meet people. These are your most carefree years.


Working as a new teacher

  • Interviews are important but no need to panic. If you don’t get one job, another one will come along. Just keep getting more qualified.
  • Don’t let anyone take advantage of you. Do not work for peanuts and get health insurance!
  • What you do not know about the language now, you will study and learn later on. Don’t get overwhelmed. Do not go into class unprepared either. If you do not know how to answer a question, it’s OK. You can say, “I don’t know this. I will look it up and tell you guys later”.
  • If your instincts are telling you that you won’t like teaching in public schools, follow them. Do not spend 5 years doing something that makes you miserable.

Your qualifications: MA and Delta

  • Do your Delta first, then your M.Ed in Tesol. Learn how to teach first and then become a researcher.

 In the classroom

  • Learn as much as you can about your learners. They are your syllabus (Priscilla Osborne said this. You may not quite be aware of this now, but you will totally agree later on). Don’t stick to something because it is what you “planned’. Be flexible. Your students will guide you.
  • Be yourself. Be friendly. Yes, you are a teacher, but that doesn’t mean you should act like someone you are not. Be proper but not too ‘proper’.
  • Repeating the rubric 3 times does not help your learners. Neither does asking, “Do you understand?” Or  “Is that OK?” You need to find other ways to check your learners’ understanding of something.
  • Observations are a learning tool. No one is out to get you. You will benefit from them. Don’t panic, just do your thing. Any advice that is the product of an observation is welcome cause you develop.

Your secret professional dreams/ ambitions

  • The sky is your limit. If you want to achieve something professionally, go for it. Even if you fail, you know you tried. Having said that, Joanna do not open and run a language school business (especially as in 2008 recession will hit Greece). You are a teacher, stick to what you know best. Leave ‘business’ to business people.


  • There is something called the internet and a computer. Learn how to use both, ASAP! Start blogging, you will probably like it : )
  • Connect with other teachers. Don’t be shy. They will be the ones who will offer you advice and help you. Go to conferences, attend anything that will help you develop professionally. Mingle with your teacher friends. They get you!


And just so you know, even if you make mistakes, it’s OK. Don’t beat yourself up. Be strong. Be yourself.


Joanna (39)


Final thoughts

The list goes on and on. There are so many tips I would give me, the newbie teacher. Some of the things I mentioned did end up taking up a lot of my “professional time”.  Even though I did learn, I wish I had realized how wrong things were going and taken action earlier. Then again, I am who I am now cause of the mistakes I have made.

Now, let’s hear your advice to your #youngerteacherself.

Hana Ticha’s post can be found here

Marjorie Rosenberg’ post can be found here

Theodora Papapanagiotou’s artistic post can be found here

Christina Chorianopoulou’s post is here

Sylvia Guinan’s post can be found here

Sandy Millin’s post can be found here

Angelos Bollas’ post can be found here

Zhenya Polosatova’s post can be found here

Fiona’s post can be found here

Phil Wade’s guest post can be found here

Mike Griffin’s post can be found here

Sophia Kahn’s post can be found here

David Petrie’s post can be found here

Ageliki Asteri’s post can be found here

T. Veigga’s post can be found here

Clare Fielder’s post can be found here

Timothy Hampson’s post can be found here

Vedrana Vojković‘s post can be found here

Ljiljana Havran’s post can be found here

Brad Smith’s post can be found here

James Taylor’s post can be found here

Anthony Schmidt’s post can be found here

Helen Waldron’s post can be found here

Katherine Bilsborough’s post can be found here

Vicky Loras’ post can be found here

Vicky Papageorgiou’s post can be found here

Miguel A. Cortes’s post can be found here

Marc Jones’s post can be found here

Rachel’s post can be found here

Sonya’s post can be found here

I will be sharing everyone’s posts when they are published. If you feel inspired and want to write something, do it. Send me the link and I will add you to the list of bloggers who wrote posts! If you want to write a post but don’t have a blog, no worries, just let me know and I will host your post. You can leave the link to the post in the comments area or tweet me @joannacre

A few weeks later….

The #yougerteacherself blog challenge is going to be the inspiration for a conference talk by Naomi.  For more information press here


#Keltchat (which is a twitter chat) will be holding a slowburn chat session which is inspired by the #youngerteacherself blog challenge. Join in and share your advice/tweets with other teachers from around the world (for more information about the #Keltchat press here)

Date: 28th of April

Time 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Place : Twitter

Till next time…..


30 thoughts on “#Youngerteacherself

  1. Pingback: #DearMe: to my younger teacher self | Sandy Millin

  2. I love this, Joanna! I obviously am a mega-newbie, with not even a CELTA under my belt… But I’d like to think I’m following your ‘the sky’s the limit’ advice by packing in a decent job in academic publishing to try my hand at ELT because living and working in Germany is something I’ve always dreamed of 🙂
    The more I read ELT blogs, the more it’s also being hammered home to me how important it is to know the students that will soon be in any classes I teach, so thanks for pointing out that they ‘are the syllabus’ – I like that!
    And, even though I am very inexperienced currently, I am already in awe at how kind, helpful and encouraging other ELT teachers are! I look forward to starting to meet some of you in person 🙂
    Great post, again!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Rachel,
      I have a feeling you will be/are a really nice teacher. I really admire the effort and the thought you are putting into your teacher. If I were to give any new teacher one piece of advice, it would be listen to your learners!!
      Thanks for reading and commenting. I ❤ comments!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Aw thanks Joanna, that’s really kind! I did a day working as a corporate volunteer with young people yesterday, and it was so fun! Hopefully it’s a good sign that I will enjoy being a teacher 🙂
        I also love comments hehe – the joys of blogging 😉


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