This time two weeks ago I was in Glasgow. I was both excited and nervous as this would be my first presentation at IATEFL. Although I had presented at many conferences in the past three years, just after stepping into blogging, twitter and social media, yet IATEFL was something else. A dream, a last stop, a new beginning, a meeting point …
me, a first time IATEFL presenter
I enjoyed being there very much. As I previously mentioned, I met old friends, new friends and made new ones. It was a fantastic week.
In the afternoon today, I was writing the invitation letters for the schools for our Comenius project, my husband was sitting on the coach with his netbook on his lap and he, as frequently does, called me to watch a video on youtube. I reluctantly stood up and went near him. While watching the video, I was speechless. As we teachers always do, I thought how I could take it to the class or even to the staffroom.
This is what professional development is for me. I also remembered the teachers attending IATEFL. There were a lot of young and very enthusiastic ones but there were also a lot of very experienced ones. Once again I admired their dedication to their work and to their perception of life.
Some weeks ago, I was chatting with a colleague about life-long learning and she told me about a retired cousin of hers, who living in France, is now attending some sessions at university, asking what the benefit of this could be, adding the life had already come to an end. I then tried to convince that learning shouldn’t stop till we die. We sometimes give up very early in our country. Maybe this is how we perceive the world. After retirement everything finishes. My mum even told us after my brother’s wedding that now she could die as she had nothing to do anymore. All her kids were married. This was how she was raised but she raised me in a totally different way. That’s why I’m still eager to learn new things and I am a true believer of professional development.
I don’t know if I will be able to make it for Liverpool 2013. It just seems impossible at this very moment but we all know that ‘impossible is nothing’. Provided I can’t go to IATEFL next year, I’m sure the online event will be there to follow.
I attended many sessions this year. Some were just what I was looking for, and some were totally different from what I had expected. I missed some great sessions and when I came home, after recovering the post conference blues, I watched some and downloaded some handouts, read the blog posts I missed and still trying to catch up with some more. I think this will engage me till the next conference I will attend in April, The Third Elt Student Conference which is a joint event organised by enthusiastic elt students from Bilgi and Bogaziçi Universities.
Today was the 1st day of the conference and I started this year’s adventure with Weronika Salandyk’s session called ‘Fun with Flashcards’. Weronika is a friend whom I met from IATEFL Brighton and last year she made me admire her because of her passion and enthusiasm to teaching.
Well, what can you do with flashcards? Just so simple tools in today’s digitally manipulated world,aren’t they? Yet, Weronika showed how they can be used creatively and can be fun with young learners. All the activities she planned were aimed for young learners but they are easily adaptable for teenagers.
I want to share some of her activities.
Speak as if…
Introduce new materials by showing flashcards
Ask them to repeat the words
Then challenge the kids to say the words as if they were eating hot soup or chewing bubble gum or sitting at the dentist’s chair with their mouths wide open.
She used pictures as prompts and whenever she pointed at a picture prompt and showed a flashcard, we just shouted the word as if we were …
It was real fun!
Hot and Cold
A classic that I’m sure all we played when we were at kindergarten. Here is how she uses it with her young learners.
Choose a student to leave the classroom.
Decide where to hide the flashcard
Ask the student to come back to the class.
Everyone directs him/her towards the hidden flashcard shouting the word louder and faster if the student is close to it or slowly and quietly is he/she is far away.
If you were at her session you were lucky. If you missed, make sure attend a session of her at another conference if she is presenting.
The second session I’d like to share with you was another inspirational one. Claire Hunter explained us how she use TED talks with her adult learners at all levels. The talk was called ‘Inspiration with TED’ and as I mentioned above it was a very inspirational talk and very fruitful.
She uses TED talks to practice reading, listening, speaking and writing.
One of the activities was called second hand presentation.
One students listens the talk, takes notes and reports it to his/her friend
The other student has to prepare a presentation from what she/he heard.
For lower level students she prepares summary questions and students write their summaries after watching the talks.
She also told about the projects she assigned. The students watch the Ted talk, work on it then prepare his own presentation.
It was a highly practical and useful sessions and I’m glad I had stayed and listened to her because my heart was telling me to go to the hotel and rest but my brain insisted on attending the session. In the end my brain won but as I was very tired I found myself in my room instead of partying with #ELTchatters
Today I met two of my students who are ready to teach English. I was their English teacher from high school prep class to grade 11 then they studied at university and now they are about to start their career.
We had a really nice chat and of course being a teacher means teaching everybody everywhere and I caught myself teaching them how to become a teacher. Then I decided to write this post.
When you graduate from university, you always think you will change the world.
You think you will be fair and be able to teach every single student in the class.
You think you won’t be like the others and you will be sure not to leave anybody behind.
You think you will have a team of teachers to support you when you need.
You think your students will admire you and think that you are the best teacher in the world.
You think the principal will see your dedication and praise you.
But it won’t be like this.
Sometimes you will feel you are not capable of teaching.
Sometimes you will feel your colleagues are not happy with what you are doing.
Sometimes you will feel the principal does ignore you and never sees the things you manage to do well.
Will these things be enough for you to quit?
Here is a piece of advice for the new comers.
If you want to become a teacher, don’t think about being praised, do it for yourself.
Become a lifelong learner, there are chances of attending online and free PD courses, seminars, webinars. Find them!
Start building your Personal Learning Network using twitter and FB for professional development and get support from those teachers. Share your knowledge, don’t keep everything for yourself. If you share, they will also share.
Try hard to be fair. Be sure you are not neglecting a slow learner. Every child needs some support. Everybody can teach the smart ones but only the good teachers will help the timid ones.
Praise your students. See even the smallest attempt and say ‘wow, you’re doing really well today’
Motivate yourself. Don’t discourage yourself complaining about the others in the staff room who work less than you. Teaching requires self-motivation, dedication, hard work and creativity.
Be sure that teaching is a career, not a part time job, to become a wife and a mother. It will allow you to gain so many strengths that you will never guess.
You will have a chance to improve yourself constantly not let yourself left behind your students.
Get feedback. Ask your students what’s happening in the classroom. Be careful, guide them well to collect data. don’t do it to hear good words from them. Be ready to hear the criticism and learn from your mistakes.
In short teaching is a life-long journey to find yourself by reaching many people and guiding them.
P.S: when I was with my students I tweeted ’
evab2001 hi all,I’m with my students who will start teaching this year. what will u say 2 them? do u think it is worth?
I received some answers from my PLN and here you can check their advice too.
@anna_bring oh yes it is worth all of that hard work. I don’t ever regret becoming a teacher, and the reward i… (cont) http://deck.ly/~e7gGK
@BiancaH80 Hi future teachers!! Teaching is awesome – get on twitter, follow some teacher blogs and don’t teach from worksheets!
focus on learning always – tech is just a tool but use it well. Keep in touch w/ edu research – don’t throw away those books!
Being a working mother is not easy. Being a teacher and a mother is a real challenge. Sometimes my kids grumble to me about my job. They complain because I spend too much time working for other kids. They complain when they get lower marks from English and say I never do anything for them. However, I’m sure you all experience the same thing with your kids, sisters or little brothers that they never study with their mothers, fathers or elder sisters ( my younger sister used to do that )
Anyway I promised them we will do something for their English this summer. Maybe you had heard before that they also complain about my blogging, twitter, etc but they are also very curious about all these things. Finally, on Saturday we started with vokies. It was a miracle. My daughter was never willing to do anything for more than 10 minutes with me but she really liked creating characters and wrote about their lives. She created several vokies and emailed me. Instead of playing games, she spent a lot of time recording her voice and listening to it. My son is not as eager as she is but he also tries one or two. Then I decided we should have a blog for our summer work and then I created a new blog for three of us. I will write the posts and share the things they create. I hope we will manage to work till the end of this summer.
Do you have any suggestions for a helpless mother to engage her kids and teach english to them? I’ll be happy to hear them.
I’ve been thinking about being a lifelong learner for a while. Attending ISTEK ELT in March and IATEFL in April reminded me that teachers are learners too or I think teachers should be learners too.
One of the challenges of a 21st century teacher is integrating technology into the lessons. Well, technology is a scary word and because of its threatening image, ignoring technology won’t help anybody. Will we be replaced by technology? Will mobile learning be the future of schools? Will schools be institutions which will just prepare certificates?
I don’t know. I guess we still have some time to be replaced by technology but I guess the ones who resist using the technology should be replaced by the ones who integrate what’s new to her teaching and I believe there are really great teachers who are enthusiastic, eager and motivated to learn. These teachers are not only the young ones. There are many old and experienced teachers and I saw them at the conferences I attended. This reminded me something my mother-in-law says, ‘When work finishes, life finishes’ and I want to adapt it to our situation, ‘When learning ends, teaching ends.’