What’s my WHY?

Every teacher is a leader. A classroom leader at the very least, perhaps a leader in their organisation, perhaps even a leader in their community. As teachers, we all (hopefully) know WHAT we do on a day to day basis, but aligning the WHAT with the HOW and the WHY is the reason “some organisations and some leaders are able to inspire where others aren’t”.

By working out our WHY, then the HOW and the WHAT, and making sure that these align on a daily basis, we not only develop a stronger identity as a teacher/leader but also make sure that we are travelling down a path we want to follow.

Simon Sinek explains more:

“The way we think, the way we act, the way we communicate is from the outside in, we go from the clearest thing to the fuzziest thing. But the inspired leaders and the inspired organisations regardless of their size, regardless of their industry, all think, act and communicate from the inside out.”

It’s the start of a new term, and I gave these three questions a lot of thought over the weekend. So as a teacher, ADOS and teacher trainer, what’s my WHY, HOW and WHAT?


ELT, like many other educational areas, is currently quite archaic* in many of its practices and needs to be renovated into the 21st Century for the good of its learners.

*Students at chairs and tables facing board and teacher as it was in the 1800s; coursebooks with unappealing/culturally inappropriate topics and out-of-date language; a lack of tech in learning…the list could fill another post.


1) Encouraging learners to take ownership of their own learning through self motivation and applying a growth mindset.

2) Moving away from a traditional chalk and talk classroom by using and creating realistic, useful and engaging activities and content, for example by integrating tech (shown here and here).

3) Contributing to a trend of teachers considering themselves competent professionals in a global industry worth billions. It’s an important job that teachers should be proud to do, and standards should be high*. If you’re reading an ELT blog, the likelihood is that I’m preaching to the converted.

*This shouldn’t be misconstrued: I’m referring to the countless native speaker pirates with no idea what they’re doing ‘teaching’ because of their passports. Could you do the same in any other professional industry? Law? Banking? Medicine?


1) Try to reflect the HOW? principles daily in my classroom practices and teacher training sessions. Practice before you preach.

2) Share my ideas through my blog, teacher training events at home and abroad, webinars and through conversations with fellow professionals worldwide.

I need to keep coming back to these regularly, making sure that my actions reflect my beliefs and modifying when they don’t, or adjusting my WHY to new information and experience and working outwards to HOW and WHAT, rather than the other way round.

This isn’t about creating a stick to beat yourself with. It’s about being your own yardstick, having standards and being accountable to yourself. I think applying this to yourself can only have positive ripple effects out to learners and colleagues alike.

And you…what’s your WHY? As always, please leave a comment below or contact me by email – jegerton89@gmail.com

Other articles in the What’s your WHY? series

Alister McCarty

Bronte Rose Ainsley

Is yours next?



17 thoughts on “What’s my WHY?

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