The Best Teachers Teach from the Heart, Not From the Book
This is our seventh interview from our thought-leadership series with teachers who work at 51Talk. Please meet and learn from Serena Correnti.
Serena, please tell us about your education background.
In 2014, as a senior in high school, I took a TESOL course from the Canadian Institute of English in Atlanta, Georgia. I learned how to effectively teach ESL using modern and scientific techniques that would engage all parts of students’ minds.
How did you land your teaching role at 51Talk?
It’s funny, because I’m not sure! Out of the blue, I received an email asking to submit an application. I had a job with another company at the time. I was doing well, but the salary was low. I looked into 51Talk and noticed it was a growing company that provided a good salary.
I discussed the job change with my husband, did a lot of research, and eventually made the switch. I was nervous at first because I knew I’d have to build up my student clientele again. Today, I am happy I joined the 51Talk team. Although this is embarrassing to share, I failed my first interview. However, I worked with a helpful employee at 51Talk. She noticed my potential and let me interview again. Thank you, Sally! It wasn’t long before I had a full schedule of classes. I’m happy 51Talk found me.
Serena, you mentioned you are very interested in whole brain teaching. Can you elaborate on that subject and how do you apply these strategies as a teacher?
I first learned about whole brain teaching when I took my TESOL course. When teaching, and especially when teaching children, it is important to activate all areas of the mind. Children get bored and lose patience quickly. After 20 minutes, their attention span and retention levels drop.
However, if teachers engage their minds, they can capture their attention and help them get the most out of the lesson. For example, teachers can use some of the following teaching techniques for their lessons: TPR (Total Physical Response- engage in physical movement in or around their seat), introduce toys and props, use humor, and incorporate songs and videos. Also, the same techniques work for adults.
I use these techniques in every class I teach, and I believe these strategies have improved my classes as well as my career.
Also, when I use these strategies, I see my students laughing, smiling and having fun. Their parents enjoy the classes as well. Many students and parents tell me they do not want to leave class, and this makes me happy. I know they enjoy learning English.
I’m grateful to wake up every morning looking forward to work.
Some teachers are resistant to teaching online, especially across different cultures. Can you tell us how other teachers can break through their fears of teaching online? Also, do you have any tips for teachers working with different cultures?
If teachers are nervous or hesitant to work in an online environment, they shouldn’t worry. Many times, the students are just as worried. Sometimes it’s hard to put yourself in the shoes of others, especially when lives and cultures are so different. When you open your mind and heart, you will gain so much more than you give.
I have met wonderful people, and I have learned so much more about the world. It’s refreshing to meet kindhearted people in China. I know this is a chance I would never have received if it weren’t for 51Talk!
What is the most important advice you would give to other educators who would like to join 51Talk?
My favorite saying is, “The best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book.” I find this quote to be true.
You don’t need a high degree or years and years of experience. I’m only 21, and there are new and experienced teachers working here. I was nervous at first because I never thought I had it in me to teach well. However, I learned just to be myself. Your students will love you if you view them as friends and show that you care about helping them. I take the time to ask them about their day and demonstrate that I am here to help in any way I can.
Finally, what is your favorite part of your typical ESL lesson and why?
My favorite part is singing during a lesson, although I don’t sing well. However, showing students a short video of their favorite song makes them light up. I also love to bring out my inner child during class. It’s so much fun to be goofy with the kids. I also use exaggerated expressions and voices to make each class livelier. The parents love to see their children happy and having fun in English class. I get to laugh and learn for hours a day. I don’t think anyone could ask for a better career.
To read more interviews with other teachers, please visit the following links:
You can also apply to teach at this link: 51Talk Application.