In addition to being a student, I am a ballet dancer. And just as students need supplies to succeed in school, ballet dancers need pointe shoes to dance. I recently watched a video by the Royal Opera House, the performance centre for London’s Royal Ballet. The video was a reminder of the importance of patron donations, since pointe shoes are very expensive. The video was filmed from the perspective of a pointe shoe. “How interesting,” I thought to myself, “No one ever thinks about the point of view of a shoe.”
It is a great skill to be able to see things from another person’s perspective. If there’s anything I’ve taken away from class this week, it’s that a good TESOL instructor is one who is attuned to the needs of their learners — and not just their academic needs. The students in a TESOL instructor’s classroom come from all walks of life. They bring with them a variety of educational backgrounds, skillsets, life experiences, attitudes towards learning, availability for learning, reasons for learning, and so much more. As instructors, we too bring to the classroom our own assumptions about our learners, beliefs about the world, insecurities about ourselves, and so on.
As an instructor, we must remind ourselves to check our bags at the door. The classroom is a space for our students to learn, to ask questions, to discuss, and to grow — it is not a space for us to proselytize our beliefs. If we truly pay attention to the behaviours of our learners; watch for where, and help them when, they struggle; encourage them when they need it most; we too may begin to see a shift in our own perspectives.