Edu Hero (one of many)

I wrote this as a task for the iTDi MOOC Summer School 2014.

Task: Think about your Edu Heroes and choose one who’s helped you learn and grow as a teacher. Write a short essay about this person, what he or she means to you, what you’ve learned, and how you’ve put this learning into practice in your own life and teaching.


I really have too many. Too many people who have influenced me as a human and a teacher, who have helped me grow and change and become who I am today, who are still supporting me in my becoming. This essay will be about one of those special people in my life.


I’d like to introduce you to my edu hero. The first time I saw Mike Griffin was at a conference. He was part of a panel discussing teacher training. I had just become a head teacher at my school and was to be responsible for the “on the job” training of temporary teachers in an intense work environment. The most important thing I got out of that conference session was a pamphlet for Korea’s reflective practice special interest group, for which Mike was a founding member and facilitator.


Mike and I are very different. He is a proponent of learning by doing. I’m more of the mind to research first, then do. Reflective practice was a new experience for me because it’s a thing you do to learn rather than something you learn to do. Mike didn’t tell me how to do it. He just provided a space and a community to do it. He was a role model in reflective inquiry and through him, I learned to be objective – but more importantly I learned to notice when I am being evaluative. I learned to ask questions that lead deeper into a situation. I learned to look at situations in my classroom from multiple perspectives. My curiosity was awakened, but that is not all.


Mike and I are very different. He enjoys talking to other people and meeting new people. I am very shy and tend to stay away from strangers. So there’s this thing called Twitter. Right, I thought. Checking in at places. Waste of time. No, no, he said. Teachers are there. There’s a lot going on. So I got on board to experiment. Well, to lurk. That’s what shy people do. Mike didn’t take long to find me and show me around the Twitterverse. Every step I took out of my comfort zone he supported and encouraged. He introduced me to teachers who I now call friends. Mike got me connected.


There’s this thing called #KELTchat. It’s a thing we started doing on Sunday nights. If you’re on Twitter, come join. #KELTchat was a place to talk about teaching topics. I lurked, but once in a while I tweeted and I could immediately feel the support there for my opinions. With the help of Mike, I began to trust my voice. It’s a great gift that I will never forget, and I hope I never fail to support the voices of people who might feel like I felt initially. I also learned the value of connecting with people in various contexts and I learned that ELT is not dominated by native speakers. There are so many educated, experienced, and amazing professionals all over the world ready to share their teaching experiences and I can learn so much from all of them. L1 becomes a trivial detail when teachers are sharing with teachers.


Mike and I are very different. I have a whole folder in my inbox dedicated to our conversations. We seldom completely agree, but I always felt that my opinion was valued and had contributed to the discussions. He was never trying to make me change my mind, but to draw out my thinking, understand and explore what was behind my ideas. I learned from him a way to explore ideas and insights, and ways to stretch my thinking. Talking to Mike, even just for fun, I am always learning.


The things I have learned and the ways I have changed from knowing Mike has had an impact on me as a teacher. The consequences of this spread far – to my colleagues in Korea and abroad, from whom I learn as much as I can. It doesn’t matter how different we are, there is always so much to learn and share. I will always remember how much Mike supports me and I  hold the door wide for other teachers to experience this amazing supportive community I am now a part of. Every single voice is valuable, and every teacher, class, context and situation is different. I will remember to be objective and listen non-judgmentally with an open heart.


For my students, my teaching is becoming more reflective. I am finding ways to change lessons to benefit individual learners as well as groups. Being part of a wider community has helped me bring in a more diverse range of ideas and activities, from Kevin Stein’s stories to Rachael Roberts’s lessons to #flashmobELT, and this has helped me find and identify my students’ hidden talents and interests – and gaps in their learning as well.


For me, I grow in confidence every day. I use my blog as a place to share my classroom and my thoughts. I read and share other teachers’ blogs and even leave comments when I feel brave. I trust my voice because people listen to it and share their own stories. And on the days when I am sure I am at best mediocre compared to the teachers around me, I remember how far I have come and that we are all on a different place in our path, another lesson from Mike.


Mike has a very impressive bio. He is modest, but over the years I have pieced together the things he has done and does with his time. But that isn’t why he’s my hero. He’s my hero because he is so unashamedly human. And he lets me be human too.


Because why NOT go to Japan for the weekend to see a great presentation?

Because why NOT go to Japan for the weekend to see a great presentation? (Photo credit: Kevin Stein)





  • mikecorea  On August 27, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    This is lovely and touching. I just shared it with my mom, in fact.

    One thought that came to mind after reading is that it says just as much about the author as it does about the subject matter.

  • Hana Tichá  On August 28, 2014 at 3:03 am

    A lovely post about somebody I admire myself. Although I’ve never had a chance to meet him, I second every heartfelt word in this post. Thanks for writing this, Anne.

  • Rose Bard  On December 16, 2014 at 1:53 am

    How did I miss this post. 😀 Two of my very favorite people in the world. Thanks for writing it and what assignment was that. I think I missed that one too.

  • careymicaela  On December 30, 2014 at 1:12 am

    I just came across this post. Mike is an excellent ‘nudger’ and he’s basically the reason I’m on twitter (which then led to me joining #eltchats and starting up my blog). He has helped me get connected to teachers all over the world and grow my PLN exponentially. This is a wonderful post about a truly inspirational guy.


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