Another international educator being featured this week on the blog! I am really proud of how far the #HowDoYouDoIt series has gone and the educators it's introduced me to. Maria, is currently based in Ireland and it's very clear she's an educator who is love with her student's development. Thank goodness for educational superheros like Maria!
Be sure to connect with her after you've read about her journey into education!
Name: María Ortega
Who are you? How long have you been working in the education field? What school district are you in?
I am María, teacher of Spanish language and culture, with over 13 years teaching experience; six of which I worked in secondary schools in Spain and France, and also taught English and French to adults working in multinationals. During the last seven years I created my own teaching business, teaching Spanish language and culture online and offline.
What subject/ grade do you teach?
I teach Spanish language and culture, both online (via Skype) and offline by the means of workshops and retreats. The majority of my students are adults over 25, who want to be able to communicate in Spanish for personal and professional reasons.
What was learning like growing up for you? Easy, challenging?
My years as a student were very challenging. I was a mediocre student according to my teachers but I put in the hard work to be ticking along. However, despite the so-so results and an increasing lower self-esteem after every school-year, I loved learning and felt a profound admiration to the majority of the teachers.
Who or what inspired you to become an educator?
I always admired most of my teachers and I always knew I wanted to become one. I saw them as sources of knowledge and that was the most attractive thing in the world. I wanted to become a source of knowledge too and spread that knowledge around.
Describe what your dream classroom would look like.
Students who are motivated to learn, who bring an open mind and are willing to be challenged. Students who participate with their opinions and question what I say if they don’t fully understand or agree.
What gets you pumped up before entering the classroom? (ex. music, car dance party, coffee?)
I have recently discovered that dancing is the best thing in the world! A wild, crazy dance to one song in the morning and a cup of coffee is all I need to feel ready to conquer the world, my students, their minds and hearts.
What makes you a great educator? (Come on, toot your horn!)
Passion and devotion. I love what I do with every cell in my body. I believe wholeheartedly in the power of education to change lives, mindsets and in consequence, the world, and I also believe in the limitless abilities and possibilities of every single student when given the chance and when taught in the right way for him/her. I am constantly trying to improve myself and I believe that my journey in personal development impacts directly my teaching methods and my students.
If your students could describe you, what would they say?
That I care.
What do you do to enhance your personal learning?
I never stop taking courses, attend events, webinars, read books... about areas seemingly unrelated with teaching or the subject I teach, however, all that helps me widen my mind and stretching me in a way that makes me a more rounded teacher. As I said, a teacher is more than the subject she teaches, and a desire of a continuous personal growth plus curiosity are elements that should be (and normally are) present in teachers.
How do you balance your personal life from your teaching life?
Once I understood the hard way that devoting myself completely to my students was making me a very grumpy and isolated (therefore sad) human, I designed my life to keep the balance between both elements. I take extra care to not be overbooked and give myself time off to spend both with activities that nourish my soul and doing nothing. The not having a thing in my schedule bit is extremely important. Self-love and a fulfilled personal life is what keeps me fired up in my professional one.
Do you do enough to maintain your personal wellbeing?
Yes. As I said, taking time to take care of my body, taking myself for walks, or training at home, taking care of my creative soul and inner child by dedicating time to draw and write and dance, spending time with my loved ones and also dedicating time to go meet people (including strangers) is essential for me as an introverted person. I am consciously fine tuning my life to make sure I am healthy, happy and motivated.
Have you ever experienced burn out? What/who helped you cope?
I have experienced burn out few times during my career. What helped me to cope was taking time off and recharge. After the last burn out I decided to prioritize taking care of my needs, so I rearrange my schedule and made sure I had time for me to do activities that nourish my soul. I still overwork sometimes but the good thing is that I recognize the signs of beginning to be burned out, so I take action to prevent the full blast.
If you could talk to your younger self (ex. elementary student, high school student, post-secondary) what would you say?
Trust yourself. Trust that inner voice that tells you what you love, and go do that.
There may be teachers reading this who are in need of a reminder why they’re great educators? What would you say to help lift their spirits?
We are shaping the future, we are nurturing and opening our student’s minds in ways that are not often considered or seen.
Jam Gamble - Connector of People, Ideas and Energy