Q&A with Founder, Charmaine, and English Tutor, Bridgette: How Do You Keep Your Passion Alive?

Summer break has come and gone, and the beginning of a new school year is upon us. Some teachers have spent some of their summer break preparing for the new year of learning. You might be wondering: why would they do that? Well, it’s because teaching is their passion. Teachers chose their career for many reasons, and the most important reason is that none of us would be where we are now if it wasn’t for our love of teaching. Today’s post is going to be a bit different from the norm as I’m collaborating with Charmaine Santos. Charmaine is the Founder and Owner of The Literary Tutor; she’s also been a teacher for 12 years and has an unwavering passion for education. Throughout our careers, our students have asked us some great questions about our passion for teaching, and we’d love to share our answers with you.

What made you want to be a teacher?

Charmaine: When I was a kid, I dreamed of being an artist. I loved visual arts (and I still do), but for whatever reason, the path to being a professional artist was not a smooth one for me. While working on art projects during my first year of university, I often blamed myself for not producing perfect work, or I became very shy around criticism. After failing a project, a wise friend advised me to steer in a different direction, since the path I was on seemed to have had too many roadblocks. I took her words seriously, so I explored and enrolled in different types of classes in university for my electives. 

It wasn’t until I took an Introduction to Poetry class when my a-ha! moment came. Our professor was someone who not only was knowledgeable about poetry, he also lived and breathed it. So, when he teared up after reading John Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn”, I vowed to be as dedicated and passionate about my craft as he was. 

Of course, being an English Literature student was a breeze for me. I excelled in all of my classes and connected with my professors whom I owe my undying love of reading and writing to. I wanted to be like them, because their passion for philosophy and empathy for stories inspired so many people. I knew then I was going into education, because the road to being an English teacher was sunny and clear.

Bridgette:  I was one of those students who went through the motions of figuring out what I wanted to do in life. I tried a variety of courses to broaden my knowledge – Spanish, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, etc. At one point, I wanted to be either a veterinarian, dentist, or even a detective. It became clear that science subjects weren’t for me, so I decided to pursue Spanish and History. I loved languages, and it quickly became clear that I was pretty good at it. My favorite teacher of all time was my Spanish teacher; the way he was able to command our class and get the high level of respect needed amazed me. He also truly cared for his students and wanted them to succeed. Like with any language, the hardest part about learning one is verbal communication. This was difficult for me, but my Spanish teacher took the time during his lunch break or even after school to assist me with my oral presentations and projects for which I was grateful. As a result, his love for teaching spoke to me, and by Grade 11, I knew then and there that I wanted to embody that same passion with my future students.

Where does your passion come from?

Charmaine: I’m the type of person who finds inspiration in other people’s stories. After reading a book, I love reading up on its author and learning about the events and ideas that led them to write their book. Oftentimes, you will read about their struggles and realize that their hardships are similar to ours; however, they’re able to turn their pain into something beautiful. My desire to help my students connect to stories written by people from different times and different parts of the world fuels my passion. Storytelling to me is an act of love and compassion, and as an English teacher, there is nothing more rewarding and inspiring than witnessing my students feel more connected and understood when they are hearing and telling stories.

Bridgette: I started teaching English in Spain as a Teaching Assistant 8 years ago. I was new to teaching, but it was apparent to me from the start that while it’s normal for some students to be quiet, I had a few who were either quiet, too shy to speak, or displayed rude verbal behavior. When I spoke to their teachers, they informed me that some had a history of aggression, disengagement, or had undiagnosed and diagnosed learning difficulties. This didn’t dissuade me from teaching. Rather, it intrigued me, and I wanted to know how I could help them succeed. I decided to connect with them on a personal level and engage in a variety of topics surrounding life in Canada and the like. By giving them a peek into my life and answering their questions, I was able to develop a personal and teacher-student relationship with each of them. It also strengthened my relationship with their parents as they were able to see that their kids are capable of a great education and career.

Additionally, I wanted to continue my professional development, so I enrolled in a Masters of Education degree program that focused on students experiencing social, emotional, and behavioral difficulties (SEBD). I wanted to learn more about the psychology behind kids’ behaviors and social difficulties and develop the skills and expertise to help them in any way I could. It fired my enthusiasm to learn more in this area of study, while continuing to meet my students’ needs. Now, I have the ability to make a difference in my students’ lives and inspire them to achieve whatever it is they set out to do.

Did you always know teaching/education was your ultimate career path?

Charmaine:  Teaching was not a career I would have chosen to pursue during high school, and I can’t say for certain if it will be my career forever. All I know now is I love my job. Every day I wake up with a sense of purpose and feelings of gratitude. There is nothing else that makes me feel more alive and inspired than watching my students awaken their imagination, discover their unique voices, and ultimately thrive in their studies.

Bridgette: Teaching was a career that came on my radar in Grade 11 after having an exceptional and caring Grade 10 Spanish teacher who was passionate about what he did. I took the unconventional route and decided to teach in Spain and pursue a MEd in the UK. My goal was to strengthen my professional and personal development rather than pursue a Teacher’s degree here in Canada, which I don’t regret. I do believe everything happens for a reason and moving abroad to teach English in Spain made me realize that I want to be a teacher who makes a positive impact on my students.

While in Spain, I also observed that there was a taboo surrounding the mention of a child having a learning and/or behavioral difficulty. As a result, I wanted to change that narrative and show my students the different ways of learning and how they can overcome any obstacle in their way. I also strived to influence my students to make right decisions even when they’re not in the classroom by providing them with the skills and guidance they need to tackle the world head-on and showcase their abilities. With the knowledge I gained from the MEd and my years of experience, I’m able to help my students’ overcome challenges, discover their voices, and, most important of all, enjoy learning.

I hope this Q&A from your English tutors and writers of The Literary Tutor blog gave you some insight into our passion and drive for teaching and learning. If you have any other questions for us, we’d love to hear from you. Please send us an email or comment below.

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The Literary Tutor

We are English tutors helping students ignite their imagination through reading and discover their unique voice through writing.

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