So today’s post was prompted by a question online regarding professionalism and I started thinking about what is considered professional and what unprofessional in teaching/education.
OK, first of all, what is professionalism?
According to the Cambridge online dictionary, it is
the combination of all the qualities that are connected with trained and skilled people.
Hmm trained and skilled, I see. So, you need to have your degrees and diplomas. You need to be trained and have skills. I guess I can tick those boxes. So, yay!! I am a ‘professional’. But what else?
I don’t see anything about personality traits. Here’s the thing. What got me questioning my own professionalism or lack of, was what type of person is viewed as a ‘professional’ and what isn’t.
I will cut to the chase. If you are a funny, chatty teacher, does that make you less professional than someone who keeps their distance? What is the fine line between being professional and being too connected with your learners? Are you more professional if you are an introvert teacher or does that have nothing to do with it? Are bubbly teachers doomed and not taken seriously? How much sharing is oversharing? Are girlie treachers, who like to talk about lipstick in the office during the lunch break, and not whether they should be teaching unplugged, plugged or whatever, doomed to be labelled unprofessional?
Do teachers gain respect if they are unapproachable? Does being quiet make others think you are better at whatever on earth you are teaching? What about your cultural background? I am Greek, we are loud. If I am in the office with quiet people and I speak (loudly, but like me), is that viewed as unprofessional? This actually brings culture into the conversation as well? Are some cultures considered more professional than others? I have actually been ‘teased’ (?!) by a fellow teacher
You are Greek, and you work? Wow!
I am actually the type of teacher who talks about my life with my learners, I have old learners on my Facebook page, I even go for dinner with past learners, I hug my learners before they take exams, I have been on the phone with a student who was freaking out before a language exam and it was 1 in the morning. That is not professionalism… or is it? I have also been doubted by a (female teacher) cause I dared to wear makeup!
In education, where you provide a service, and that service is language learning, a service which involves interaction, what makes you a respected professional and what makes you a joke (the term joke is used for dramatic purposes)? Does the learner affect how professional or unprofessional you are? Do you become more professional when you teach adults and less professional when you teach kids?
Is it actually either… or?
Once again, a whole lot of questions and no answers. The floor is all yours folks. Feel free to share your thoughts.