Being Unqualified

Hello, welcome back to TEOLEO!

As you may have noticed; over the past few weeks, I have stepped away from writing about teaching strategies and tips. I have been focusing on sharing my journey to help others relate to the struggles or experiences many of us have encountered. This also helps to build community and provide different perspectives.

I want to talk about being “unqualified” as an ESL teacher. This term bothers me down to my core. I have seen this mentioned time and time again scrolling through Facebook groups. This term, qualified, is talking about the level of education. Are you a degree holder or not? Let me begin by telling you I am not a degree holder. Does this mean I am not qualified? Technically speaking, yes it does, in the traditional sense. However, our jobs as online ESL teachers is a newer concept. It is embracing a new way of sharing our knowledge.
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Hindsight is always 20/20, right?

I am under no delusions. Getting a degree is a very worthy cause. There is merit in your degree. Education is vital to our growth. It is the one thing that no one can ever steal from you. There is immense value to that. A degree would be beneficial to me, and with a change in lifestyle and more time and energy at my disposal, going for a degree now is very feasible. It is something I want to do, not to become better at any one thing, teaching included, but for myself. This may sound greedy, but we are talking about education, knowledge, and in this sense, it is OK to be greedy about it. What I am asking you to consider; is the education we earn outside of a university. The school of life, for lack of a better term. You have already heard a little of my story. I worked in the corporate sector for 17 years, worked my way up the ladder against those with higher levels of education. I proved myself time and time again through hard work and dedication to becoming an expert in my field. Coupled with not allowing myself to be intimidated by titles or education.
I got into online teaching because teaching has always been a passion of mine. I am fortunate to have this opportunity to share my love, although I am unqualified by traditional standards. This is not to step on the toes of the many degree holders that worked hard for their education. This is to shed some light on the idea that a degree isn’t the only thing that makes you qualified. For my kiddos, my life experience with my own child, plus volunteering for many different organizations working with kids makes me a great teacher. This experience has helped me to connect with my young students, this connection has built trust, and the foundation of trust has allowed me to teach them beyond the lessons. For my adult students, my experience in business and the corporate world make a great teacher. Relating to my adult students through shared experiences has led to many excellent conversations.

My students choose me because my love for teaching is reflected in each class. Not to toot my own horn, but over 7 months, I have maintained an average rating of 5 out of 5. I believe that this is directly tied to my love for teaching and not my experience or lack thereof.
For those of you without a degree, but possess a passion for teaching, I encourage you to go for it! Do not cut yourself short because you are technically unqualified. I would argue that you are qualified, by life not by books. Having said that, it is worth mentioning, as a teacher, you still must continue to find and learn about ways to grow as a teacher. I am always on the hunt for ways to improve my teaching methods for my students. In the meantime, I will continue to teach and love what I am doing, despite the missing framed degree on my office wall.

“Intelligence is the capacity to perceive the essential, the what is; and to awaken this capacity, in oneself and in others, is education.” ― J. Krishnamurti

I would love to hear your story! Let’s get a conversation started!  Come join our FB group at Teach English Online – TEFL/TESOL/ESL/JOBS/!   Or for more fun and teacher engagement, come join our social teaching platform TEOLEO! Just click our TEOLEO icon below to get going!
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Written by Sarah
Hello, my name is Sarah, to my students, I am Teacher Sarah. I began this journey simply because teaching has always been a dream of mine. Life had other lessons for me to learn before arriving here. My life experiences are one of the things that make me an excellent teacher. Teaching online opens new doors for those of you out there with a heart for teaching and a desire to adventure this big beautiful world. Teaching online allows so much freedom, all while changing the lives of students and teachers all around the world. I want to share my journey in online teaching, living outside the lines, and doing what makes me happy.
Let us know what you think!
  1. Great article, as normal. I wish higher education was free world wide, wouldn’t that be amazing…

    • It really would be amazing! It should not cost as much as it does to get a good education. Thankfully we have the internet at our disposal and this can act as a great educator, if you are motivated enough to self teach.

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