Friday, 5 November 2010

Passion for teaching?

Today, I received an interesting comment from one of the teachers who attended the recent State Level Action Research Seminar in Kulai. Let me share the comments with you:

hi pn rahmah!...ive been teaching for almost 1 and a half year now n dat seminar was really an eye-opener for me who sometimes lacks the passion in teaching n sometimes, feeling burnout.. i was totally moved by ur presentation and INSPIRED! i pray dat i cud be just like u, a teacher who seems to have so much passion in herself thus inspiring students to excel too :) thanks for inspiring me n permit me for sharing ur blog with others k? :)

Thanks to xxx for such encouraging comments and I certainly hope she is not burnt out because she is still a 'baby' in teaching!! We need you in the ever challenging ELT world!

My point of discussion in this posting is about passion in teaching- a word we so often use in the teaching field. As a matter of fact, just the other day, an inspectorate complimented  me on having a passion for teaching and asked me for the translation of the word passion in BM. I responded with 'ghairah'. Ghairah?  "But 'ghairah' seems to have a sexual connotation to it!", he quipped. Well, for want of a better word ...although I think this is the correct word. This word also reminds me of a stint back in 2002 when I presented a paper in the Southern Regional ELT Seminar organised by Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Johor. I think it was my second presentation at the seminar. That particular year saw presenters from Indonesia and Singapore as well. I was this small teacher who was eager to share my journal writing project with the audience. Taking a seat next to a lady after my presentation, she congratulated me and said, " You must be a really passionate teacher." That was so motivating I thought...

So what does it mean to have a passion for teaching really? Well, if I may offer my tuppence worth, I believe to have a passion for teaching means:
  • to love children despite their background, age, race and creed - show them that you are genuinely interested in them and their learning. If you don't have a love for children, you cannot touch their hearts. You will just be a routine teacher (my expression) who teaches without feelings and attachment (although granted that too much attachment can be overwhelming sometimes)
  • to be enthusiastic in your teaching - you show this through your energy in class. Show that zest as you enter the class and not drag your feet
  • to be patient as you deal with different DNA's and moods- be understanding and tolerant with your students' mistakes. I always tell my students, "If you are all good at English, then I don't have a job!!" This is so comforting to them for you're showing them that you understand their problems in learning English and you are willing to give them that time and space to learn.
  • to be committed in your purpose-make sure you see projects to the end. Passionate teachers begin and end things they undertake. Teaching is not just a job...
  • to have fun, to experience pleasure and intrinsic rewards- like seeing your students' eyes sparkle when you read a short story in class (because they don't read so well!) or when they go up the stage to receive a prize
  • to be generous with your time- give your time to your students (although you must learn to set boundaries to your time just so you will not be overworked)
  • to surround yourself with equally passionate and positive people- that collegial atmosphere  that is so important to keep you motivated but is sometimes missing!
The list goes on...I would like to think that I chose teaching as much as teaching chose me. 


  1. Passion in teaching = "The heart of education is education with a heart!"

    Rodney Tan (A passionate ET)

  2. slm..
    pn rahmah, thank you so much for explaining this term..this is the answers for those like teacher..hehhe

  3. Rodney: wel-said!
    Apple damien: i sarted as a baby too remember!

  4. I do what I have been doing for two reasons: to give a second chance to those likely to be left behind for no fault of theirs and, secondly, to be sure that some of whatever know-how I acquired during the first half a century of my life will be imparted suitably.
    Perhaps my passion is not quite in line with the norm, am I right?

  5. pakcik,
    i think in ur situation it started with a deep of responsibility which later became a passion??

  6. Salam Pn Rahmah,

    Thanks for posting about this! If you have time, do read my latest entry in my blog which is a response for your entry. I had wanted to comment on your entry but in the end, me being me, I had so much more to say! ^_^

  7. hi sarah,
    i tried to leave a comment on your blog but i didn't see any comments link. hmmm...if i had my way, i will not let english teachers be too active in co curricular activities! yes this sounds cruel but i have seen so many good english teachers losing their purpose because of co curricular activities. i'm sure when u were in university, u had all those ideals of becoming a good english teacher..but sometimes situattion in school forces you to be otherwise or is it because the 'glamour' of co curricular acts. makes it a more attractive choice (fast and visible results)compared to teaching english for example? the question is - can you be passionate in both archery and english? the answer lies in ur own hands i suppose..passion alone is not enough of course. passion must be translated into action!

    consider these questions:
    - do you have a choice?
    - where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
    - can you negotiate with your administrators?

    in a way it's not fair to give a blanket explanation as our situations are different. your dilemma is not uncommon i think. it's such a shame that one who has been trained is not able to give one's fullest to the subject one loves. my final question is


  8. Well, if you ask me what I want, I believe I want to inspire and be a good example for my students. And as of now, I do feel I don't really have much of a choice. At the moment, I don't think declining work given to me, whatever it may be, would do me good for my future in the career (please do correct me if I'm wrong). Plus, I have also heard them saying that I will not be excused from these activities since I'm one of the young ones.
    With that said, IMO, setting a good example is not by just being a good English teacher, but to show them that they should also be involved in other areas such as co curricular. Well, some of my kids who are involved in archery are starting to speak in English because they see me speaking in English to one of the archery instructors. And I encourage them to join in the discussion no matter how low their proficiency is. And I can see that they feel more relaxed to talk bout their learning on the field than in the class.
    But then again, I can't reach that many students this way. I'm still figuring out a way to reach those who aren't involved in co curricular activities with such minimal and inconsistent time that I have with them.
    Owh, and thanks so much for your response! I really appreciate it! ^_^

  9. well sarah,
    i simply asked u those questions to make you think :)i understand it's not easy to reject anything being a newbie. we have all experienced it at some point in our teaching career- me teaching kewarganegaraan when i first started for example. take whatever comes in your stride and do your best! good luck!

  10. Well. did make me think. I'll be doing a lot of thinking this coming holidays. As much as I like to be good in a lot of things, I know I need to have a focus in doing my job. InsyaAllah, next year will be much better for me =) Thanks loads, Pn. Rahmah!


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