Why do you think teaching is so important?
Learning is a privilege. The opportunity to learn is an even greater privilege. In turn, teaching is a privilege and the opportunity to learn how to teach is an even greater privilege. Through learning and through teaching, we open doors for ourselves and for our learners which may never have existed for us.
What made you personally want to be a teacher? What was your main motivation, or was there any specific experience that inspired you?
A teacher I had myself. This was the initial motivation. It was such a great feeling to finally understand something so clearly though the help of someone else that I thought if I could be the one to help, what an even greater feeling that must be! Helping students understand and be able to achieve their goals provides constant motivation for me and it is these experiences that constantly inspire me.
What were the greatest difficulties you experienced as a young TEFL teacher, and what made you decide to build the College?
Lack of support from colleagues and limited in-class experience prior to actually having a teaching job. Part of the reason to build a college like we have today is based on these two things. I wanted to make sure students had the ability to learn how to teach by actually teaching and not just listening to someone telling them how to do it.
What made you choose Austria as the place for yourself and the College?
Well, just look at it, do you know a more beautiful place? Joking aside, the people and the education system really provided the ideal location. With a changing national curriculum making project work compulsory and a greater focus on CLT and in particular speaking and listening competences, the education system needed something like this to support regular teaching.
What kind of support do you provide for College students today that you wish you had had?
The opportunity to teach and reflect on their teaching through a variety of observations. Through observing more experienced teachers, observing peers, being observed by more experienced teachers and observing themselves through video, observation becomes very common place and isn’t this big scary event that it usually is on training courses.
What is the best feedback you have had so far about the College?
This is a pre-service teaching certificate on steroids! Student teachers finish their time at the College better prepared for the realities of teaching than any other course I have seen.
What inspires you a day-to-day basis as Academic Director?
The hard work and passion of the staff around me.
What are the main qualities you want in an applicant (new member of staff or aspiring teacher)?
Commitment and flexibility. Teaching is a hands-on profession involving people not equipment. Things change, learners change, circumstances change. I want people who understand this and can quickly react to situations to make the best out of them.
What do you believe are the greatest challenges and opportunities for educational systems today, and what is the College’s role in a greater context?
Profit-making companies and politicians with short term goals based on money and personal ambition. Education at schools is about nothing else other than what is best for the learner. Too often different organisations don’t work together because they want to protect their little “patch”. I see the College’s role as bringing different organisations together so that we can help in improving the quality of education by assisting both learners and teachers.
How would you like each student to describe their time at the College after they graduated?