We are truly excited to have with us an exceptional person and educator excelling in England. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Georgia Papamichailidou.
- Hi Georgia! We ‘re excited to have you with us! You are an EFL teacher born in Greece starting off your career there and coming to England recently. Could you tell us a bit more about your story?
Hi Victoria! First of all, I would like to start by thanking you for the interview and giving me and other Greek teachers across the UK the opportunity to be heard! I believe it’s important for all of us to share our experiences as well as challenges in the field.
As for my story.. well, this goes a bit back to 1988! But, of course, I’m not going to start from that year! I come from the capital of northern Greece, and more specifically Thessaloniki. I graduated from the department of English Language and Literature at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and straight afterwards did my MA in TEFL/TESOL & Teacher Training at the University of Birmingham.
My teaching experience in England started in 2010 when I first worked in a summer school. Ever since then, my work was split between two countries! I would work in Greece during winter and in England during summer. In 2015 I was given the position of Senior Teacher and Teacher Trainer and was asked to move permanently in the beautiful coastal town of Bournemouth. And that’s what brought me here!
- So how is your life in England now? What are the pros and cons of living here?
This is a very interesting question and I believe that it comes down to each person’s character and attitude towards life, in general. Because of the fact that I moved here solely for work, socialising was difficult at first. It took me about a year to get used to different aspects of living in the UK.
One of the decisive advantages of living in England is that you are given opportunities to grow professionally. This is a key element for those wishing to extend their knowledge in their field and experiment with their strengths and weaknesses. An additional benefit is that admin-wise things seem to be easier. For example, you can pay your bills with standing orders and you don’t need to worry about filling out unnecessary paperwork.
On the disadvantages front, however, adapting to a less-Mediterranean lifestyle might take time. Culturally speaking, people are less open socializing after work and opportunities to do so are less common. For example, I’ve always liked being member of a folk club in Greece where we would meet weekly and dance. Yet, towns like Bournemouth can be limiting. Apart from that, the financial responsibilities can be quite surprising at times.
It always saddens me to hear that young people from Greece arrive to the UK believing that they will be able to easily find a position in a company and lead a similar lifestyle to what they were used to in Greece. The cold yet practical reality is that we need to prepare ourselves and adjust our habits in order to understand how the British society functions.
- What inspires you everyday?
Typical though it may sound, my students are a great source of inspiration for me! As teachers, we get to analyse their needs on a daily basis, experience their linguistic fears, hear their concerns and, of course, share their successes. This is what helps us understand how we can improve our teaching so that we can improve their learning experience with us. So, whenever I plan my next lesson, I always have in mind what my students will have achieved by the end of that class. This leads my thoughts and my professional development!
- Share with us some highlights of your recent experience at IATEFL 2018. We know that there are numerous teachers in England and Greece that wished to be there but weren’t able to attend the conference for different reasons.
IATEFL has truly been a life-changer for me. I have been following the organisation’s contributions online (especially via Twitter) and I was lucky enough to attend last and this year’s events physically. Basically, IATEFL is a buffet of TEFL seminars. You go there and you decide how many and which sessions you want to join. In between the sessions you are able to visit the exhibition hall where you get to be informed regarding new publications and courses.
However, sometimes the sessions can be a hit and miss, really, because there are many companies that wish to be advertised and thus they offer less interesting presentations.
This year, I mostly chose presentations that involved teacher training and lesson observations. The ideas were fantastic; one example was the use of the SLACK platform in mentoring teachers!
- Do dreams really come true?
That’s the million-dollar question!
I believe that there is a reason behind anything we experience. If, for example, one dream of ours was not fulfilled, it must have been because that wasn’t the right one for us. So, as long as we realise our true dreams will we be able to set forth into turning them into reality.
- What is your passion?
My lifelong passion is learning. I like listening to people, their stories, reading, travelling, listening to music (especially musicals!). I feel that through the process of learning I am on the right path on improving as a person, a friend and a teacher!
- What is your advice to the Greek community of teachers in England?
I think that my advice can better be expressed through the words of Larry Bell:
Even on your worst day in the classroom, you are still some child’s best hope.
- Thank you very much for your time. We are looking forward to hosting your amazing ideas and bits of experience on our website!
Victoria, thank you so very much for this interview! I hope my articles will help and inspire our vibrant community of Greek teachers!
All the best to all of you!
ESOL & Greek Teacher, founder of the online community and website Greekteachers.co.uk, BA (Hons), M. Ed. TESOL.
Καθηγήτρια Αγγλικής και Ελληνικής Γλώσσας ως Ξένη, ιδρυτής της διαδικτυακής κοινότητας και ιστοσελίδας Greekteachers.co.uk, BA (Hons), M. Ed. TESOL.
(Επικοινωνήστε με τον αρθρογράφο εδώ: Viktoria@greekteachers.co.uk)