The Journeyman

Hi, my name is Toby and this will be a blog about me. Not to confuse it with the other blog about me, this will be a blog about me as an EFL teacher. And, while I know what I — the guy on this side of the keyboard — plan to get out of it, I’m not sure what’s in it for you. But, I think it might be more than nothing.

What’s in it for me

Even if nobody reads this blog, I think it’s a good idea for me. The fact of the matter is, reflecting in writing  has always been a good strategy for me. There’s something deliberate and intentional about forcing your ideas into (more or less) well-formed sentences. It slows you down, it gives you a chance to hear that other, more critical voice that might have been drowned out.

So, after more than a decade in teaching EFL in Germany, I’ve learned to embrace the idea that I’m a journeyman EFL teacher, as defined at Dictionary.com: “any experienced, competent, but routine worker or performer.” I’m the kind of teacher who my boss can send to a company and know I’ll do a solid job.

But I’m not amazing. And I’m not sure I want to be. (It turns out that amazing teachers get paid the same amount as solid teachers and seem to invest a lot more of their time per unit of teaching time.)

Nonetheless, I had a realization this spring that I could either spend the rest of my life going through the motions that I have learned and always be ‘a solid teacher,’ but slowly learn to hate my job. (And, probably, to hate Germany.) Or, I could make myself responsible for enjoying my job more.

That’s what this blog is going to be about: my experiments and adventures in having fun teaching EFL in Germany.

What’s in it for you

There’s a thing that Germans say about teachers: “They’re right in the morning and free in the afternoon.” And, while I am not always free in the afternoon, I have gotten comfortable with the idea of being right in front of a group.

To that end, there are going to be several blog posts on what I’ve found to be the ‘right way to teach.’ They might be beneficial to you. They might also offer you an opportunity to correct me. And I invite corrections, because I’m certainly game to improve, provided it doesn’t mean a higher per-unit investment of my time.

Further, my first immediate project — in addition to codifying what I think I’ve learned about teaching — will be blogging about some ‘troublesome’ groups that I teach. I think that taking a pseudo-scientific approach might be good for them. (Pseudo-scientific in the sense of “Here’s what I want to accomplish. Here is what I’m going to try. After x number of lessons, I’m going to reflect on whether it worked or not.” There will be no control groups.) Maybe you have similar challenges and, even if you can’t share solutions, coming along for the ride might help.

Is there more I can do for you? Let me know?