As I get older, sometimes I begin sounding like an old lady, reminiscing about the good old times when young adults were enthusiastic about the teaching profession, how much more committed they were, and how things are different now. Sounds familiar? Well, thank goodness I “snap out of it” soon afterwards, as I did this week.
I was invited to give a talk about professional development in my institution to a group of Language Arts students – thus future teachers – at the Catholic University of Brasília. The roundtable was part of their Language Arts Seminar and its theme was Professional Development and Proficiency. The other roundtable presenter was Professor Virgílio Almeida, who talked about Communicative Competence.
What impressed me the most in the event was the students’ engagement in the two talks. I’m used to presenting to audiences of young adults in Brazil and know how restless they can be, standing up all the time, playing with their phones, chatting, and the like. They do this even when they are interested in what’s going on, as they are specialists in multitasking.
This audience was different, though. During the whole two hours that Virgílio and I talked, they were all absolutely engaged. No phones, no in and out all the time, no chatting. They were all in synch with us, attentive, nodding their heads, demonstrating interest. At the end, there was time for questions. I was sure no one would volunteer to ask anything, assuming they would be eager to get out of there. Boy was I wrong. For over half an hour we answered thought-provoking questions and had stimulating discussions. They were actually interested; they really wanted to know more, to seek advice, to obtain bibliographic recommendations.
I know many of these wonderful students will become great teachers because they have in them what teachers need the most – the desire to be lifelong learners. Thank you Catholic University for inviting me and renewing my faith in my profession!