Saleh wasn’t good at math at school but always got good marks in foreign languages and humanities, “sometimes even without trying really hard”. He loved history and literature and that was why he chose to study English literature. His favorite directors are Quentin Tarantino, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Stanley Kubrick; “I love Pulp Fiction and Eyes Wide Shut.” Saleh also likes trying all kinds of food “if they don’t include insects as their ingredients and don’t look or smell too gross!” and he plays soccer and plays the guitar in his free time. Saleh was born in Iran in 1983. He says that immigrating to Canada “has probably been the biggest change in my life, and I am happy with the choices I have made in my life so far!”
How did you get into the EAL teaching field, and what/where are you teaching now?
“In 2001, I started studying English literature in my home country, Iran. My dad was a teacher; I was inspired by him, and I always had a strong passion for teaching. I started teaching at an evening English school. I was 18 at the time. I loved what I did, and soon figured that this was the right path for me. I got my Master’s degree in English literature a few years later, and taught at university as a part time instructor while I was teaching at English schools throughout the years of my studies. I immigrated to Canada in 2012 and started teaching at MITT and University of Manitoba. Currently, I work as an instructor and PBLA Lead Teacher at Red River College, and I am the Instructional Coordinator in the evening program at MITT.”
What is important to you as a teacher?
“I think teaching is probably one of the few jobs, or maybe the only job that solely relies on the ‘human’ connection. One might argue that there are other jobs in which a professional works closely with people and their minds, such as a psychologist, but I still think that an educator’s job is unique in terms of the relationship that he/she builds with students. Our only goal is to help people learn more, rather than diagnosing a disease or simply “talking” to them. Based on this, I believe the most important aspect of teaching is the success of a teacher in building that relationship, connection and as a result, trust.”
What are your goals as a teacher?
“We all have many teachers throughout our lives, but we remember only a few of them. I have always had teachers that I loved to meet again after many years, and have reminded them every now and then. I love to be the kind of teacher that students will always remember. I think there is no need to explain why some teachers are remembered more, and I want to be the teacher who can provide that unforgettable learning experience for the students.”
What is frustrating for you as a teacher?
“At the end of every term, I feel there is still a lot more to teach each class but the term is over. I have always felt that I have an unfinished job and I still could have worked more with my students. The fact that I know that they will go to higher levels and will be in good hands does not help a lot with this somewhat irrational feeling!”
What is a moment you had with a class that inspired you?
“Being inspired by students is something that happens every term. I always have students who have come a long way from their home countries with their families and children, have fled war and famine, or have had good jobs in their home countries but are here for a better life for their children. Seeing the passion and hope that they have for building a new life is always inspiring, and seeing them studying and working sometimes over night to provide for their families always amazes me.”
If you could have your students take away one lesson/message from your class, what would it be?
“I want my students to always know that they can make the impossible look easy, only if they believe in themselves. I always tell them to broaden their view and dream big. I tell them that as they should feel satisfied and happy with what they have, they should never think it’s too late or they can’t learn, study or do something new.”
Who has been a mentor for you as a teacher and why? (What did you learn from them?)
“I have had many mentors and observers throughout nearly 17 years of teaching experience. I have learned from all of them and they have all given me pieces of advice that I have tried, tested and benefited from. I always value their work and contributions, but I think my most important mentors have been teachers who have influenced and inspired me. The only reason that I am a teacher now is first my father, and then the great English teachers that I had. They made me interested in this field, and after I became a teacher, I remembered their methods and strategies and used them in my own practice.”