Hi, my name is Gabriele, I’m 34 and I was born and raised in Rome, Italy. I’m a relatively new certified TESOL teacher. And after a few months of teaching in an institute here in Rome, the quarantine forced me to keep teaching online. At first, I didn’t like it so much because it’s a different approach, but now, after almost 3 months I can say that I’ve learned from this new situation to set my lessons in order to deliver an improved experience even if I’m not there physically with my students.
Hi Gabriele! In your bio, you bring up an important topic. How in the world do you quickly pivot your classroom to be online? What technology do you leverage?
My students felt so cozy with the lessons, that they asked me to keep teaching online. To do so, I usually use Zoom or Skype.
I love what tech can do to help us teach in all kinds of situations. The last time I worked as a teacher, I leveraged the full suite of I know that you did a few other things before you started working as an English teacher. Can you tell us where all you’ve worked? . It made everything so much easier for me and so much more interesting for my students.
Well, as I mentioned before, I used to work as a filmmaker and 3D modeling. Those are the skills that allowed me to move to California where I spent almost 2 years.
Once there, I worked for a while for Sonoma and San Francisco County at their project of “zero waste” realizing videos to sensibilize people to an eco-life approach.
When my job was done, I found a way to remain there working as a cook in an Italian restaurant. I’ve also been a welder for a sculpture artist, an Italian teacher, a bartender, and many other different jobs.
Wow. I can imagine you have so many wonderful stories to tell from all of your experiences. Also, from the choices that you’ve made to work in, I can tell you are a compassionate person. I can imagine that works well for you as a teacher. You also show that you are multi-skilled. I can also see how that will serve you well as a TEFL teacher. I know that you’re from Rome, but what brought you back, and how long have you been there for?
I applied to the college of Santa Rosa to study natural sciences because I’ve always been attracted to nature, animals, and every aspect of life. Those studies gave me some opportunities also across South America. I worked for a while in the Amazonian forest in Bolivia in a rescue of wildlife. Last year I spent 6 months in Israel, in a nature reserve called Hai-Bar Yotvata, in the desert working as a ranger and it was an amazing experience, from which I’ve learned a lot.
After almost 5 years of living abroad, it was time for me to come back and I found this opportunity to become a teacher. I like challenges and I accepted them without any hesitation.
I can imagine that you see Rome with different eyes now since you’ve spent 5 years abroad. How would you now describe the city that you’re from? Rome is a magical city, always ready to welcome you and spoil you with her views, her streets, history — I’m proud to have been born here. After living abroad for such a long time, you learned English super well. But why did you start working as an English teacher?
I found this opportunity to become a teacher. I like challenges and I accepted them without any hesitation.
I was back in Rome after a while, and I didn’t want to be back at my old job as a cameraman after all the experiences I had. So I had to reinvent myself once again. A friend of mine had recently become an English teacher in Spain and she gave me the idea.
I researched online and found a course to get the certificate. As soon as I graduated, I began to work with that same school giving lessons. This allowed me to pay back the improvement courses I took after my certificate (business English, Cambridge Test Prep., and teaching young learners).
It sounds like when you make up your mind to go for something, you go all in. I can personally identify with that. But I’ll have to tell you about my path some other time. So, now that you’ve been working as an English teacher for a while, do you like it?
Rome is a magical city, always ready to welcome you and spoil you with her views, her streets, history — I’m proud to have been born here.
Yeah, I really liked teaching English too. So, what’s your favorite teaching strategy?
I have to say that I really enjoy it!
- Context: to give the general idea of the topic of the lesson and activate the student’s interest.
- Analysis: in which we check the grammar point of the lesson
- Practice: where students train themselves improving their skills in listening, writing, speaking, and reading.
Thanks for breaking that down for us. I think that even for people who have been teaching a while, it’s helpful to remember you have to root the lesson in context. I know that sometimes I would get “in the weeds” in my own head sometimes, and could use a reminder to bring the lesson back to the students’ life. Since you’re from Rome, you may be able to answer a common question that I get as I run the Teach English In Rome website. What would you say is the best way to find an English teaching job in Rome?
I follow a simple method divided into 3 phases
When I taught in Rome, that’s how I got my first job too, the school that trained me. Is there anything about being a TEFL teacher that you wish you’d known before you started?
I’d say on the internet, but to be honest, so far my experience came from the school where I got my certificate.
Actually no, like many jobs, you learn how to be a good teacher just doing it.
That’s a really good point. As I talk to other TEFL teachers in Rome, that’s what they all say. That you need to learn by doing. That’s actually a great strategy for English students as well!
Is there anything else that you’d like to share about yourself?
My goal is to deliver a lesson that fits exactly what my student needs. I like to work mixing published material with other resources. Either I make these resources or they come from my students’ own experiences. This helps them to stay interested and engaged.
Okay, so if others want to connect with you online, how can they do that?
Email: gab [ dot ] calcaterra [ at ] gmail [ dot ] com
Thanks so much for this conversation! I’ve really enjoyed chatting with you.