Time for a change!

As you may already know ( I’ve tweeted about it!), I have resigned from my position as Language Course Leader at the academy I have been working in for the last five years. I started as a freelance language teacher and slowly made my way up the career ladder and have been in this position since March 1st.

I consider myself extremely lucky to have been able to have such an opportunity with the academy but, after 20-odd years of teaching ‘third person s’ and ‘present perfect’, I couldn’t bring myself to say ‘no‘ to CLIL Geography and Art.

It’s going to be a mega learning curve for me, I know, as I’m no expert in either. I’m studying, re-reading books which I had put aside a very long time ago as well as reading new ones. I’m eager to learn.

The other thing that made me say ‘yes‘ were, are, the working hours. I may well need to spend time prepping but I won’t have to sit in an office from 9 to 6 and get home at 8pm. Hopefully I will have a decent work-life balance, mental health, time to study for my MA and, maybe, who knows, to blog about my LPs!

Just a little German

Tonight was the night. I got out the German self-study course for beginners I bought over a year ago and I started. Finally.

I must admit that it’s really hard without a teacher and extremely hard not to turn to technology, the only tech I have is the CD for the listening although I think I may convert the audio files into MP3 files to play on my phone.

Why German you may ask, well, I really want to learn Nederlands and it’s so much easier if you already know some German.

The last time I was a beginner in a language was over 20 years ago so this is going to be an interesting learning curve for me. All I’ve kept saying to myself this evening when looking at the keys is ‘OK, but I don’t understand why! I’ll have to take a picture and ask Val (my friend) tomorrow’.

Off to bed now. Guten Nacht!

Adventures and armrests

Right… Not exactly one of my best days!

Lovely evening spent with @JanersELT last night. All OK this morning until…security control. There I’m told that my ticket to Barcelona (to get to #iELT19) was actually for (roll of drums) YESTERDAY!!! Shock! HORROR!

I just leave Jane standing there and rush off to the ticket office to see if I can get a seat on the 6:30am flight with her – I mean, we’d been up since 3am! I just HAD to get on that plane.

No tickets.

Next flight: 12:40. Only a few tickets left. Let’s not even mention the cost and the fact I’m going to miss my workshop.

Buy ticket.

Rush back.

Go through security.

Find Jane. She buys me breakfast.

I see her off. There were a number of hen and stag dos. To put it in her words, she was probably the only normal person on the plane.

I wait. And wait. And wait.

Plane delayed.

Finally, we board. I doze off. Hadn’t even realised.

Silly woman on my left has a go at me for dozing off and slowly leaning over into her space. Apologised. Explained it wasn’t intentional. Apologies basically not accepted.

I’ve now taken over the armrest. It’s mine.

Innovate ELT 2019

The theme of the conference may well be “Back to the Future” but I need to go back the past, to the first one @SaraP_ELT and I attended together two years ago- the 3rd conference!

@SarahP_ELT won a copy of Duncan Foord’s book, The Developing Teacher, for the tweet that got the most likes (if I remember correctly) and I won a course in the feedback raffle. It took me absolutely aaaaages to decide which online course to do, I eventually opted for “Leadership in ELT” and Duncan himself was the tutor (he was extremely patient, I must say!).

Why am I rambling on about this? Well, two reasons, @SaraP_ELT kindly gave me the book 🙂 and it came in really handy when I did the course and secondly because to complete the course you had to write a blogpost which I never shared with anyone but Duncan. After over a year, the course ended in February 2018, I’m sharing with you what I wrote at the time.

I found the course extremely useful and I would definitely recommend it to anyone going into leadership or having to deal with bad leaders.

It’s all about time management… or is it?
Are you one of those people who never has time for anything and feels guilty for spending time on something they like? If so, it is well worth rethinking the way you manage your time.
I have just completed an online course on Leadership in ELT, run by Oxford TEFL. Module 3 of the course was on leadership in organizations: time management and, motivation in particular. Initially I couldn’t quite fathom out why these two were in the same module. Now I know. Very often, when we say that we have no time to do something it’s mainly because we have ‘chosen’ not to do it and this could be down to lack of motivation more than bad time management.
The ‘Circles of influence’ activity (Foord, 2009) adapted from Covey (2004) helped me a lot as it highlights how we should really only focus on areas we can influence, where we can make a difference therefore reducing the feeling of frustration both in our workplace and in our everyday lives- if you can’t beat them, indulge them and get on with your own life!
The quadrant activity (Foord, 2009), again adapted from Covey helped me identify which activities to prioritize at work and how things I had considered ‘interruptions’ were probably the main activities to be dealt with during my working day.
I have a diary, a weekly planner and a wall calendar. I write down everything I need to do during the week and generally get through my planned activities- even if not in the order I wanted to originally- yet I still felt un-organized. The course, the module, my tutor have all helped me realize that it is all about motivation.
We have time but don’t use it well? It’s probably because we haven’t thought it out properly.
The Franklin-Covey YouTube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2sZ_W7TM5w gives us an example of how we can fit seven large rocks, representing real life tasks, into a large bowl of small pebbles. This can be done with a paradigm shift by putting all the large rocks into a bowl and then pouring in the small loose pebbles. They all fit.
Deciding what is most important to us or the things we can’t change (the large rocks), e.g. scheduled lessons, and juggling the minor activities (the pebbles) around those allows us to fit (almost) everything we want into our weekly schedule. It is, however, important to reflect on our plan on a weekly basis to identify where we over-planned or why we weren’t able to achieve our goals.
When setting our personal goals, in a TED talk video  Daniel H. Pink suggest using an AMP model:
Autonomy (choosing for yourself)
Mastery (getting better)
Purpose (a result or aim)
By using Pink’s model we can decide where we want to go, we can measure our own improvement and, most importantly, we have the power to decide what we want to do and how to fit all the other small loose pebbles around our objective.
Managing our time more effectively and deciding what our priorities are will help us feel more fulfilled, more engaged in our own lives thus allowing us to work more on our own fulfillment.
 
Bibliography:
Covey S. R. (2004) Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. London: Simon & Schuster UK Ltd.
Foord, D. (2009) The Developing Teacher: Practical activities for professional development Surrey:Delta Publishing:
https://www.oxfordtefl.com/oxford-tefl-courses/teacher-development/ https://twitter.com/oxfordtefl

Pins and needles and a singed tail

My cat burnt her tail

I have writer’s block. It’s 3:07 am and I can’t sleep, I have pins and needles in my left hand -due to a change in migraine meds- and I am stuck.

Clearly this not being enough, Miss Cinders decided to jump on the table- for moral cat support I imagine- and swooshed her tail over one of the candles. It’s singed but she’s fine, she hasn’t even realised, I have given her an extra special cat treat and she’s now fast asleep on the settee.

I’m seriously considering curling up next to her.

That feeling when you’re waiting for assessment results…

Today I remembered how I felt last time, when I was waiting for my Delta 1 and 2 results to come through. I sat at my computer from 12noon to 1 o’clock Italian time doing admin work I’d been putting off all morning just to make sure I was at my desk.

What was I waiting for? The result of my first MA assignment. The result wasn’t a surprise, it was actually just 4 points lower than I had predicted!

I know it’s crazy: I still have Delta 3 to finish, a 9-6/7 job, a daily commute, two cats to take care of , migraines to keep at bay, but I’m up for the challenge! Seeing the result today, knowing how long it took me to write the essay and considering the stressful conditions I was under at the time, I am proud of myself and of the result- clearly I can and will do better in future!

I consider myself extremely lucky as I’m receiving a lot of support from people I consider friends whom I know in real life and virtually, on Twitter, Without them I very much doubt all this would be happening…including the blog! Thank you so much^^

Planning and Designing Stuff (Lessons and Courses)

Why is it, I ask myself, that when you are asked to do something you do on a regular basis, officially, suddenly you feel totally incapable of going ahead with it?

There are all these ideas whizzing round in your head but they just don’t seem to get from there to your word document or piece of paper! Weird, isn’t it? Or you are overcome by inspiration at the oddest times… don’t know about you but I have started carrying a notebook (with a cat on the cover) and a pen with me so as to jot down any ideas that creep up on me when I am least expecting them to.

Seriously, though, course planning is something that has never seemed difficult to me. I can ‘see’ the connections between the topics, skills, etc, however, I am finding it extremely challenging to write what it is I ‘see’. Good luck to me!

Useful reading on the topic- from my personal experience, feel free to disagree-

Graves, K. (1996). Teachers as Course Developers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Hedge, T. (2000). Teaching and Learning in the Language Classroom. Oxford: Oxford University Press

North, B., Angelova, M., Jarosz, E. & Rossner, R. (2018). Language Course Planning. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Nunan, D. (1988). Syllabus Design. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Richards, J.C. (2017) Curriculum Development in Language Teaching 2nd edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

It’s been a while…

…since I last posted here. I meant to in summer as I, we, had the opportunity of interviewing a very interesting old(ish) man on the history of #Piazzatorre in #ValBrembana in the #Alps where we usually go on holiday. As usual, I found ten billion other things to do and didn’t get round to transcribing the interview nor the talk we attended. I promise I will get it done before going up this year.

There have been a few changes in my life so I do have a relatively good bunch of excuses:

I was off sick last summer – mainly for my migraines- and decided to buy a house…as one does!

I’ve bought a house!

I got a promotion last month and am now overwhelmed with stuff that needs doing!

I’ve started studying something new (nope, not finished Delta. That’s planned for December). Challenging and different from what I’m used to.

Haven’t quite gone back to #running regularly but that’s the next thing to tick on my to-do list…along with regular blogging about ELT stuff that’s going round and round in my head.

Thought I’d start with this tonight.

Goodnight to you all!

Asylum seekers, refugees & migrants: Discuss

DYNAMITE ELT

I teach, and have always taught, mostly adult-student-customers in private language schools. If you’re like me, you teach grammar and lexis, help students developing writing and listening skills, and focus on communication of meaning. Meaning, but not content. Not ideas. Or beliefs. Or values. Or knowledge or ignorance. Because, like me, you’re just an English teacher.

But my wise Delta tutor once made a useful distinction being just a teacher and being an educator, reminding us that we shouldn’t forget about being the latter. What she meant, I think, is obvious to anyone who sticks their head out of ELT for a moment, and pushes aside, if just for a moment, all the talk about exam performance and teacher accountability, and thinks back to the idea of a school teacher that predated our corporate model of an efficient, corporate school measuring its success in spreadsheet-ready KPIs.

Educators are more than just…

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