Recently I faced the need to put down my teaching philosophy. Here is an abstract from one of the rough drafts; I don't think it will make it to the final version, but it looks just about right for the blog.
Good teaching is when the bell rings, then another bell rings, and you can’t believe it’s been an hour and a half, you’d swear it was just a couple of minutes. I’ve had it happen to me as a student (thank you Mrs. Gulnara Dudnikova, the best EFL instructor I know), and I’ve experienced it as a teacher, too.
It isn't about entertainment. Strangely enough, students aren't going to really enjoy the classes if they're only having fun but don't learn anything. The real wow! factor is Hey, I thought I couldn’t do it, but I can! – and this means hard work. Language learning is a lot like sport, like I always say, because it's about the perfection of skills - and it's impossible to achieve any results in sports if you don't push yourself over the limits of what you can do now. A teacher can push students over their limits by means of command and discipline, the drill-sergeant mode as I call it, but such classes are hateful. The key for a perfect class is making labor fun.
It is not easy to achieve – in fact, I couldn't tell you how to do it, I only know that I can do it. It takes a lot of time for preparation, and you'll have to squeeze youself out dry in the classroom. But these investments bring back invaluable returns. A perfectly run class, mysteriously, leaves you with a sense of elation that seems to instantly refill your batteries with more energy than you spent. And it's fun for the teacher too! When I hear my friends who have office jobs complain about sitting at their desks counting minutes to 5 PM (like Jack Nicholson in the opening scene of “About Schmidt”), I recall my best classes, and remember that the best thing about my occupation is that if I do my part, I'll never have a dull moment at work.
That's why I teach.