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The Passionate Pursuit of Education: What Motivates Counsellors to Teach? By Errolie Sermaine and Vic Norman

By Errolie Sermaine and Vic Norman - 2nd February 2024
The Passionate Pursuit of Education: What Motivates Counsellors to Teach?

I’ve often wondered what drives someone to become a teacher and even though I am one, I have struggled to find a definitive answer. Becoming a teacher is a profound choice, driven by a myriad of motivations that go beyond a mere career decision. One of the most important things to us here at LSC is ensuring that every learner’s experience, from first enquiry to leaving with their qualification in hand, is memorable, warm, and engaging and we know that exceptional teaching is at the very heart of that experience.  

 People become teachers for a multitude of reasons. Some are drawn by a deep-rooted passion for a subject, eager to share their knowledge and ignite curiosity. Others are motivated by a desire to make a positive impact on willing minds, shaping members of local, national and global society. Altruism often plays a role, with individuals recognizing the transformative power of education in breaking down societal barriers. 

 Research suggests that intrinsic factors, such as a genuine love for learning and a desire to inspire, are powerful drivers for entering the teaching profession (Deci, Vallerand, Pelletier, & Ryan, 1991) and this intrinsic motivation model aligns nicely with person-centred theory, which posits that fostering an individual’s internal motivation leads to more meaningful engagement (Rogers, 1951).  

 But what makes a good teacher? At the heart of LSC are a group of ‘good teachers’, all extremely talented and passionate about what they do. Both Vic and I can recall working at other education providers where we felt undervalued, often labelled as “just teachers”. Just a teacher?! Good teachers are also supporters, challengers, performers, motivators, coaches, listeners, planners, writers, orators, and thinkers. Never have we been ‘just teachers.’ 

 Beyond qualifications and subject mastery, what distinguishes a good teacher is their ability to connect with learners on a personal level. Person-centred theory, developed by Carl Rogers, underlines the importance of empathy, congruence, and unconditional positive regard, all principles that a ‘good teacher’ applies to create a supportive and inclusive classroom environment. 

 Empathy is fundamental in understanding the unique needs of each learner. A teacher who can empathize with the challenges and triumphs of their learners is better equipped to tailor their approach, making the learning experience more effective. Moreover, congruence fosters trust and openness, encouraging learners to be active participants in their education. Unconditional positive regard involves accepting learners without judgment, recognizing their individual strengths and areas for growth. A teacher who practices unconditional positive regard creates an environment where learners feel safe to express themselves and take intellectual risks.  

 These Person-centred concepts have a profound impact on teaching methodologies. For instance, at LSC differentiation becomes a key strategy, acknowledging and accommodating the diverse learning styles and paces of learners. Recognizing that each learner brings a unique set of experiences, skills, and challenges to the classroom, and a person-centred approach tailors instruction to individual needs. 

 LSC assessment practices also align with person-centred principles. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, evaluation becomes a dynamic process, recognising not just academic achievements but also personal growth and development. Providing constructive feedback with an emphasis on improvement rather than judgment fosters a growth mindset among learners. Moreover, our person-centred teaching creates space for learner autonomy. Encouraging self-directed learning and critical thinking empowers our learners to take charge of their education. This not only encourages achievement but also nurtures a lifelong love for learning. 

 Becoming a teacher is a profound commitment driven by diverse motivations. At LSC we believe that what transforms a good teacher into an exceptional one is the application of person-centred concepts such as understanding, empathy, authenticity, and unconditional positive regard. By embracing these principles, our teachers create inclusive and supportive learning environments, nurturing academic excellence and holistic development of each learner. In doing so, they contribute to shaping a future generation of counsellors (and teachers) that are not only knowledgeable but compassionate and empowered. Without our exceptional teachers, LSC would not exist. We simply could not succeed without them, and we understand and respect their true value. Now a team of five experienced teachers and two trainees, we hope to continue growing our team in the future. But no matter how big LSC gets, one thing we can guarantee is that to LSC they will never be ‘just teachers’. 

 

References: 

 Deci, E. L., Vallerand, R. J., Pelletier, L. G., & Ryan, R. M. (1991). Motivation and education: The self-determination perspective. Educational psychologist, 26(3-4), 325-346. 

 Rogers, C. R. (1951). Client-centered therapy: Its current practice, implications, and theory. Houghton Mifflin. 

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Author Biography:

Errolie Sermaine is a BACP and NCS Accredited Counsellor and Clinical Supervisor. Since qualifying she has run a successful private practice and worked for a variety of organisations. She is also a fully qualified teacher and trainer with a wealth of experience of designing and delivering a huge a range of courses. Passionate about training counsellors, she has been the Clinical Supervisor for several Professional Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling courses, as well as the Designated Safeguarding Lead and Curriculum Manager for an Outstanding adult education provider.
Vic Norman trained as a Hypnotherapist in the mid-90s. Coupled with a love of personal development and growth, he ran workshops and events in various centres around the UK. Gaining further qualifications in Life Coaching, Counselling and Teaching, he then embarked on a teaching career, helping to train future counsellors and coaches. He’s passionate about teaching/training in a fun, dynamic and motivational manner.
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Please note that all beliefs, views and opinions expressed within guest writer articles are solely those of the guest writer and do not reflect the beliefs, views and opinions of London School of Counselling, this website or its affiliates.
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