BE DARING!! – Vicky Lora’s advice on CPD

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 🙂

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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 🙂

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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.

3) MENTORING

” 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 :

https://www.diigo.com/list/victorhugor/ELT+JOURNALS%2C+NEWSLETTERS+%26+MAGAZINES/5kamdy2s

6) TWITTER 

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

Checked!

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:

ELTPics

Webinars for English Teachers

30 Goals Challenge

ELT Chat

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.

9) BLOGS

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!”  🙂 

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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 🙂

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I splashed in and now I’m soaked with motivation and joy! 

Where’s my popcorn? – A webinar marathon challenge

Chronos

Image from Flickr by Barbara Müller – Walter under CC BY ND-2.O
 

Once in a blue moon Chronos decides to cut me some slack and provides me with the gift of time to attend live webinars and online conferences. But, like I said this isn’t how it usually works 🙂

Soooooooo… given that there are tons of past webinars, conference sessions recording and training videos I have been bookmarking for the past month, I have set myself a challenge:

A WEBINAR MARATHON ONCE A WEEK!!!!! 

Would you like to join me??? Leave a comment below and let’s start sharing 🙂

What I will do before I start:
  1. Decide the extension of the challenge = A total of 6 consecutive weeks.
  2. Decide the duration for the sessions = 3 hours straight
  3. Choose a day to make the best out of it = Saturday mornings sounds perfect to get into my very own CPD bubble.
  4. Bookmark a couple of days in advance the webinars/videos chosen for the following session.
What I will do during the sessions:
  1. Take notes on:
  •  ideas and tools I’d like to try out in my classes 
  •  topics/areas for further study
What I will do after the sessions:
  1. Tweet the links to the webinars/videos I have seen using the hashtag #wbnrchallenge
  2. Send a tweet to the teacher/presenter to let him/her know you have recently viewed the webinar.
  3. Tweet an idea you’d like to share and stand out from each webinar.

 

How did this all come up??? 

This year I attended my first conference. Spain’s TESOL 37th Annual Conference in Madrid took place at the Faculty of Education, in the very same building where I studied for my B.Ed in Primary Education-EFL. DESTINY OR WHAT??? 🙂 🙂

During the weekend I had tons of flashbacks, going up and down the corridors and entering some the classrooms I spent several years in. It couldn’t have been more magical. It was great. 🙂

I had that adrenaline rush that keeps you up at night even long after going back home every evening. I knew it came from the excitement of being a learner again with a handful of notes on class ideas and must read lists.

From then on, I’ve had the feeling of having missed out on so much.

There is so much to learn and it’s FREE 🙂 

Here is the list of the sources I will be using.

These are probably quite obvious to those who have been in ELT for a while 🙂 

British Council Seminars Series on Eventbrite : register to attend live online.

Seminars English Agenda British Council : watch previous seminars

Cambridge English Teacher : sign up and view some. For most of them you must be a member.

Jo Gakongas elt-training.com: She has got the sweetest voice 🙂 View past webinars and sign up to receive email alerts for monthly new videos.

Shelly Sanchez Terrell’s – American TESOL Webinars: Hundreds of 30 mins webinars on almost anything and everything related to teaching. (I’m kind of addicted to these I must confess:) )

Oxford University Press Webinars and MacmillanEnglish ELT Webinars: Register for upcoming live webinars or view the archive for previous ones.

BeltaBelgium.com : as a non-member you can watch older recordings.

Russell Stannard’s Teacher Training Videos: free online tutorials for learning to use technology and ICT in education.

IH Teachers Online Conference 2014: 25 video presentations, 10 mins each.

IATEFL.ORG webinars live : only if you can make it to the live session. Past webinars for members only

WizIQ.com online courses, watch the sessions live or past presentations with corresponding chats and power points.

 

To stay updated about upcoming webinars, seminars, conferences, etc:

  • 4C in ELT Event Calendar
  • Facebook group : Webinars for English Teachers (this one I found out very recently thanks to Lizzie Pinard:) )

 

 

Are you up for it ????  Ready…. Steady…. WAIT!!!!!  

WHERE’S MY POPCORN ??? 🙂

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Photo from Flickr by J Mark Dodds under CC BY NC-ND 2.0