About Us: Teaching House’s Core Values

 | Teaching House Nomads Blog

Back in 2006, when Teaching House was still a project on the drawing board, Ryan Horsnail (my husband and Co-Founder of Teaching House) and I had a lot of big discussions over large glasses of wine about what we’d learned from our years teaching abroad working for other schools and what we believed was the ideal environment for teachers and students to grow and learn in.

One night, after a particularly enthusiastic string of discussions, we got out our notepad and pen and wrote a set of core values, which we hoped would serve as the foundation of what Teaching House would soon become.

Now, nearly eight years on, I am revisiting these values to question whether they have withstood the test of time. Are these values still relevant? What do they mean to us now?

Let’s have a look:

1. To inspire and facilitate the realization of dreams and ambitions

Teaching House was founded by teachers and teacher trainers who have traveled extensively, studied languages all over the world and seen the impact enthusiastic, knowledgeable English.

Teaching House explains the inspirational, core values behind the English school
The inspirational Holstee Manifesto hangs on the wall at Teaching House New York language teachers can have on the lives and careers of their students.

But most of us at Teaching House didn’t become teachers initially because we wanted to be in charge of a classroom or because of we felt a calling to work in education. Most of us were attracted to a dream: a life of travel, meeting interesting people, learning different languages, exploring the world and supporting ourselves financially wherever we went.

And as we moved and traveled and taught English to students of all ages and backgrounds, we developed our skills as teachers and – somewhere along the way – fell in love with the art and science of teaching a great lesson, inspiring students to excel and encouraging them to go forth and boldly make mistakes in English. Because mistakes are an important part of active learning.

We know first-hand the difference inspirational teachers can make in the lives of others. And those inspirational teachers have often pursued a dream to live a life that fulfills them. So we have made it Teaching House’s mission to encourage others to pursue their dreams and ambitions, whatever those may be.

Getting your CELTA certification is not just about becoming an ESL teacher. It’s about going out there and pursuing a life that inspires you and others.

2. To be a role model for English language teaching that is vibrant, meaningful and inspirational

We’ve all had teachers in our past that bored us to tears or made learning seem like an arduous chore by way of lecturing, diagramming sentences to death and reading aloud from antiquated, irrelevant texts.

Teaching House is committed to be an inspirational role model in English language teaching

At times, we couldn’t help but think, “I must be a bad student,” or “Maybe I’m not good at learning languages,” because it was easier to assume this than to criticize the teachers who made us feel this way.

And then we saw how fun and engaging learning a language could be with a skilled teacher who knows how to inspire and encourage real communication. And we saw how successful students could be when the language they learned was relevant to them and their needs.

We aim to be the latter type of educator at all times and we aim to never stop learning or trying out new teaching techniques. Technology is forever developing and changing our lives, as well as the field of education. The more we learn about new technology and new educational developments, the more vibrant, meaningful and inspirational our teaching becomes.

3. To contribute to and promote education

Teaching House gives back to society by donating its profits, and contributing to and promoting education
Teaching House supports 3 Mariposas Montessori in the D.R.

Every year, Teaching House donates a portion of its profits to educational projects that are innovative, fun and inspire students to learn and develop. It is important to us that we inspire teachers and students in all fields of education, not just in the field of English language education, so we seek out a variety of projects to support.

We’ve funded several New York City public school projects, a primary school in the Dominican Republic, book scholarships for immigrant students going to college, an organization that builds schools in Africa, sports programs for low-income students, environmental education, story-telling workshops, and more.

To find out more about the charities we support, visit Teaching House’s Charity Page.

4. To strengthen the social fabric by bringing people of different cultures together

Racism, sexism, bigotry, homophobia and many of the world’s prejudices stem from a lack of understanding. But bring people of different cultures, backgrounds, genders, ages, and sexual orientations into a language classroom and bridges are built across the divide. The classroom is a safe environment where students can get to know each other and learn language through conversation and discussion, which inevitably leads to friendships and a greater understanding of one another.

We believe the more we – people of different cultures, backgrounds, genders, ages, and sexual orientations – learn about each other, the less hatred and prejudice there will be in the world.

5. To provide a sustainable and supportive environment in which students and staff can grow

Teaching House provides students and staff with a supportive environment and growth opportunities

Teaching House’s teacher trainers model the best educational practices in their CELTA training sessions so trainees can experience the kind of innovative techniques they are encouraged to try out in their own lessons.

Our trainers are continuously developing their skills, attending teacher training sessions, researching educational developments and trying out new techniques in the classroom, and therefore they are able to support trainees with new ideas and innovative techniques they can try out in their own lessons.

6. To treat all positively and equally

We aim to encourage students and staff by highlighting the things they do well and make students and staff feel comfortable by treating them fairly and equally.

Most of Teaching House’s full-time trainers have been with us for many years, which is unusual in a field that attracts traveling teachers who are often keen to move on after one or two years. But with the generous vacation time our trainers receive, in addition to the opportunities they have to work on courses in other U.S. cities or locations abroad throughout the year, Teaching House’s trainers tend to be long-term employees.

Just ask our Head of Teacher Training, Lizzy Adams, who came from Spain to work with us on a 3-month contract in 2008 and has been with us ever since.

7. To care for the world and environment

Teaching can be a paper-heavy profession. Teachers often have to photocopy multiple handouts for class and cut up bits of paper to use for classroom games, most of which aren’t reused or recycled.

We know this comes with the territory, but we care very much about our environment and Teaching House’s impact on it. Which is why we take the time on our CELTA courses to teach trainees how to conserve paper and how to maximize use of the whiteboard, rather than always use handouts, thus reducing the amount of waste we generate.

We also limit trainees to the number of photocopies they can make in order to get them to think about how best to conserve resources. And when trainees go over their course limit, they have to purchase additional photocopy vouchers, the money for which is donated to the Arbor Day Foundation to plant trees and offset the additional paper waste.

8. To act responsibly and compassionately

Quality education relies on teachers being responsible and compassionate. Therefore Teaching House aims to act responsibly and compassionately towards its community.

We offer free English classes to immigrant students from the local community around each Teaching House center, which is one way we show our compassion. The local students who attend Teaching House’s free English classes often tell us how grateful they are to be learning from our trainee teachers who work hard to plan engaging and useful English language lessons especially for them. In turn, having dedicated ESL students in our CELTA centers allows our trainees to experience real-life classroom teaching on their course and allows CELTA Trainers to demonstrate how to cater teaching to the individual needs of each student.

Teaching House aims to foster quality education by acting responsibly and compassionately towards its community
Pre-Intermediate ESL Class at Teaching House Chicago

After all these years, I’m proud to look back on the values Ryan and I wrote when Teaching House was just a budding concept in our minds, and see the ways in which we’ve implemented these values as we’ve expanded to the largest CELTA certification center in the world.

I sincerely hope, as you go through the process of getting CELTA certified, that you are inspired by your Teacher Trainers and their dedication to the field of TESOL / TEFL and that your experiences reflect the care we take in providing you with the best TEFL teacher training possible. Because what you learn on your course will directly impact your students’ learning experiences. And because both you and your students deserve the best education possible.

To find out more about why you should get CELTA qualified, read this interview with Tasha by ‘Teaching Traveling’ and find out how she traveled the world teaching English.

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