Here is my new, honest mission statement. I put it in orange because it is such a big deal to me, to finally write something true about my goals in becoming a teacher so long ago in 1977. It’s taken this long:
My mission as a language teacher is to create a learning environment, in the classroom or online, where all the competition between students that normally exists in schools, all the boredom, all the forcing, all the awkwardness, all the student mistrust of me and my goals, and especially all of their intellectual sadness which I unwittingly have put on them in the absence of any real leadership in our field from anyone, disappear.
I want to instill in my students real confidence that they can acquire a language, that they are good at it. I want to further their understanding that acquiring a second language happens in a natural way that requires no effort on their part. I want them to understand that, if they but hear the language enough while focusing on the message, that’s all they have to do in my classroom, so that – in perfect alignment with the research and the Communication standard – we together will astound ourselves about their real capacities as language learners.
I want my student to have such a good experience under my leadership that they don’t conclude that life sucks and that they are weak at languages but rather I want them to use their years with me as a springboard for a lifetime of fun learning of the language. I want the work I do with my students to reveal to them that, in spite of all its difficulties, life does not suck.
I also want to help other teachers reach the same kind of goal, where they actually look forward to going to work every day, whether it be in a physical classroom or online.
I do not want a return to “normalcy” in our profession after the COVID crisis. I want us to finally use the research and the standard to break through all the old bullshit that has dominated every day of our waking life for the last fifty or more years. Why? It is because what we have considered “normal” for so long in our work as language teachers has been nothing but normal, and, really speaking, it has been miserable. Why can’t we just say it and set out anew?
Let’s set out anew.