Today, right at the equator of my webinar watching marathon challenge, I cyber-bummped into Vicky Loras’ webinar about Professional Development on the Sundays with BELTA archive and I couldn’t help write about it and share my excitement 🙂
This photo of my lovely Moma, staring eagerly at the open sea, mirrors how I have often felt about my teaching career so far:
I’m stuck here and there’s so much more out there.
“I’VE LEARNT MORE OFF TWITTER THAN IN MY 4 YEARS AT UNIVERSITY” – Vicky Loras
This didn’t come as a surprise to me at all. That’s why I am writing this post, to share all I have been up to in the last 4 months ever since I decided to BE DARING 🙂
Just like her, I threw myself in and the rewards have kept coming since then.
6 years vs 4 months
Although I have been teaching for a while, I’m starting to realise I have probably been in the wrong contexts and haven’t had much luck when it comes to professional development opportunities. The worst part is, this affected me to the point where I was actually starting to consider teaching might just not be for me. The classes went fine, but I did feel stuck and lonely 😦 I don’t pretend to blame anyone here, I know I am responsible for my own development, but being fair, the ambient and colleagues in each workplace can make such a difference.
These 4 months have taught me how and why Continuous Professional Development and creating a PLN are two of the greatest mainstays in teaching.
I’ll go over Vicky’s advice on HOW to professionally develop, step by step as they appear in the presentation:
1) CONFERENCES, WORKSHOPS AND SWAPSHOPS
My motivational boost came about this past February, when I took part in Steve Muir’s course on Multimedia for ELT. Every evening after the course, I couldn’t help feeling a bit down because I wouldn’t be able to take any of those incredible ideas and tools into my own teaching just because this year I happen to be with 3-6 year olds.
Nevertheless, it was a clear reminder of the excitement and possibilities that this wonderful job entails. Here is my thank you post to Steve 🙂
Just a week later after the course finished, I attended my first conference, TESOL Spain’s 37th Annual Conference. There’s just one word for it …. WOW!
I absolutely understand why Vicky uses all kinds of positive adjectives to describe the experience of attending a conference.
A weekend filled with the adrenaline rush I had been missing for so long. It was a pity I didn’t manage to convince any of the teachers I know to join me because I would have loved to discuss live the countless ideas and concepts I came across. Once again, that didn’t stop me this time. 🙂
Blendend learning is one of the topics that most grabbed my attention and of course EDMODO!
But, like I said earlier, I wasn’t going to be able to use it with my actual students due to their age. I had to come up with a way that would allow me to try it out, play around and discover. Guess who I got involved??? MY OWN FAMILY 🙂
Yes, my mom, aunts, uncles and cousins, all around a beginner level. I registered and created a group called “English for us”. It’s been absolutely amazing and fun to do this. I sent them links with videos and online exercises, they worked on grammar, reading, listening and spelling . They had assignments to complete and I even had them send me voice messages through whatsapp to be graded on their pronunciation. We got together about every two weeks for a face to face “class” filled with communicative activities and games.
EDMODO is just one of the many interesting insights. I got so much out of just one conference. I can wait for the next opportunity. 🙂
2) DISCUSSION GROUPS / FEEDBACK SESSIONS
This is where the idea of ISOLATION that Vicky talks about comes in for me. I have worked in 4 different schools and I can say that most of the teachers I have worked with were quite burnt out or too comfortably settled. Out of an estimated total of 5o teachers whom I had to coordinate with, there have been only 3 who were a bit more willing to get out of their comfort zone, discuss ideas, try new things or reflect out loud. It’s quite sad actually.
I understand how energy draining our profession can be, but I was quite sure there had to be a way to keep up our own motivation. I grabbed on to these teachers very strongly and once in a while we had great chats related to teaching matters and came up with some nice projects to work on in our classes.
On the other hand, while taking the CELTA, I was quite lucky to have a lot of this with the other trainees. This is why I know the value of it and have missed it since then.
” Look at you, all excited! I envy you.” said one of my colleagues a couple of months ago after I raved about social media, blogs and professional development during a break duty.
I immediately answered ” You could do it as well. I could help you”.
It was quite flattering to think that I would be passing on what I had very recently learnt and helping someone else feel enthusiastic about their work.
I wouldn’t call myself a mentor (sounds to big of a word to me) but I’ve tried my best and so far she has started a blog and began to use Twitter for professional purposes.
As for myself, next September I’m heading off to Barcelona to take the Developing Teacher Course at Oxford Tefl. Who knows… I might find my very own mentor there 🙂
4) OBSERVE AND BE OBSERVED
Yes… it is kind of intimidating but once again, I have to agree with Vicky on this one, it should be seen as a learning opportunity. This is something else I had a small taste of during CELTA and I can’t even describe how much I felt I improved by getting direct feedback from the tutors and peers.
Before CELTA, the only chance to observe and be observed had been the 3 months training period established at the end of the B.Ed. A very dull experience, as I was assigned a tutor who wouldn’t even bother saying good morning to me. I learnt a lot about what I would avoid doing as a teacher myself, which in fact is quite useful. I can say I got one great piece of advice that really made a difference in my teaching: move more around the room, use all the space available. My teachers had always stood at the front of the classroom almost 100% and that unconsciously sneaked into my own teaching.
5) JOURNALS AND MAGAZINES
I subscribed to the ETProfessional magazine recently as well. It issues every two months, with great practical ideas and interesting articles. It has got me checking my post box with a smile.
Vicky shares a great link for a list of ELT journals, newsletters and magazines by Victor Hugo Rojas :
Once again ….yes! yes! yes! to all Vicky has to say about the marvellous outreach possibilities of Twitter. I never even imagined someone would follow me. I started using it to follow some of the speakers I had seen at the TESOL conference and it’s a daily stop for me now.
There is so much to learn, I have to say thank God for bookmarking 🙂 .
It is certainly the best option to connect with other motivated professionals. I have recommended it to every single teacher I know.
7) JOIN WEEKLY CHATS
Another incredible discovery. 🙂
In these recent months I have joined a few #eltchat and #eltchinwag. Sorry to repeat myself but… WOW!
At first I thought it couldn’t be real. Teachers from all over the world meeting to chat about a topic they had previously set to vote !!!
But it is real, and here is where I have also had the chance to connect with great teachers, who are so passionate about what they do and who are willing to share and learn.
My heart skipped a beat every time one of my tweets was favourited or retweeted. I felt I had a voice and an opinion worth sharing. 🙂
I kept asking myself Where had this magical world been all this time?
8) FACEBOOK PAGES AND GROUPS
Like most people, I had a personal facebook profile and I did follow the Teaching English British Council page but that was about it.
Two months ago I created a different profile and have used it exclusively to stay updated and connect with the ELT community.
Through Facebook I have joined various groups like:
Webinars for English Teachers
30 Goals Challenge
Technology for EFL/ESL teachers
Innovative Teachers of English
Blog Posts of Teachers of English
This is definitely another priceless medium that is available to everyone.
After actively reading other teacher’s blogs for a couple of months, I couldn’t wait anymore 🙂 I really loved the idea of having my own blog and so on the 1st of April elt-fun@ics was born.
It isn’t my first blog actually. Two years ago, over a summer, I created a class blog for my 6th graders. I was quite proud of it because I had managed to do so from scratch with the help of tutorials and by studying other teachers’ class blogs. I knew my students and used my knowledge about them as individuals and learners to design a blog full of links and resources that I was quite sure would appeal to them.
When September arrived, I presented it to the Headmaster at the school and she didn’t give her approval because they had just signed a very expensive contract with a publishing company which included access to a kind of moodle that all teachers would have to use from then on. It was quite discouraging. My students never even got to see it. I was kindly asked not to mention it to other teachers either because they “already had a lot on their plates and it might cause confusion with this new project”.
THIS TIME IT HAS BEEN DIFFERENT 🙂
As Vicky Loras said “There might be someone waiting for you!” 🙂
This is still hard to believe
When I started this webinar watching challenge, I thought I would be learning loads of new things and it certainly has been that way. But today, it felt quite nice to keep saying Yes… Yes… Yes... as I watched Vicky suggesting all these ways to develop professionally and be familiar with the incredible and positive outcomes of it. Specially when you start mixing and matching all of them 🙂
I splashed in and now I’m soaked with motivation and joy!