Gulnara Mirishli, an English language teacher from one of our Learning Hubs in Baku shares her story about how working with the British Council made her a more confident and successful educator.
If you work hard and long enough, I believe there will be a day which changes everything - a day which gives you an opportunity to set yourself on a pathway to professional success. For me, this day was when I was given a chance to attend the Teaching Methodology and Professional Development course, organised by the British Council and Edinburgh College. This added a completely new dimension to my career as a teacher. I became a teacher-learner who, through much effort and determination, took advantage of every opportunity offered by the UK through continuous learning and development.
Soon, I was able to take the Aptis test to assess my skills, figure out what areas I needed to improve, and apply my knowledge through hands-on experience. I started teaching at a Learning Hub at the public school no. 62 in Baku. The centre was equipped with state-of-the-art teaching and learning resources, and I was also surrounded by fellow educators keen to utilise the knowledge they have acquired during our Teacher Activity Groups workshops.
I got the chance to share my experiences with fellow teachers in Azerbaijan and we started working on improving our students' four basic language skills.
Putting theory into practice
One of my favourite activities at the Teacher Activity Groups were the Dialogue, Debating and Negotiating sessions. These allowed me to come together with the fellow teachers to discuss new ideas, teaching practices and our needs at every single Learning Hub.
Even though I could feel myself improving as an educator, I was always adamant that my success in these efforts will be measured through the success of my students.
Last year, I had a chance to put my theory into practice. Together with the British Council and the Ministry of Education, our small but growing network held a live dialogue, debating, negotiating competition between our students. My small team of student learners, whom I taught day-in, day-out, for several years, took second and third places at the competition. It was one of my happiest days as a teacher!
Before the competition, I told them to speak up with confidence and courage - and they certainly did. This activity not only improved their English language, but also taugh them important communication and technology skills.
'The training sessions at the Learning Hubs paved my way toward improving my skills, building self-esteem, enhancing my professional competencies. It also made me strongly believe that I am indeed cut out for teaching.'
The unifying influence of language
We have over 150 young, talented learners at our Learning Hub. I don't stand still and I certainly encorage my students not to. My experiences have taught me to think out of the box and use the unifying influence of language to explore the world around us. This year, we arranged tours to local places of interest, explored the digital metaverse, and put the focus on otstanding diligence, effort and pesistence.
I was also encouraged to see that the other teachers at our school, became actively involved in our Learning Hub activities.
One of my favourite activities was to stage Arshin Mal Alan (the Cloth Peddler), a prominent Azerbaijani operetta by Uzeyir Hajibeyli, to bring together teachers and learners from the various corners of our community. We performed it in English and even got the school director to star in it!
Last, but not the least, I would like to emphasise the importance of the Teaching Knowledge Test, which was crucial in helping me set out goals and concentrate efforts throughout my career in the past few years. Thanks to the training sessions by the British Council (and some of our own!) I felt more confident and ready to face any challenges with a "can-do attitude".
My hope is to take advantage of more training to improve my skills and also to contribute to my community.