It's a year now since I've started blogging and it's been a long time since I've written a blog post. Looking back I see my first blog post so naive , not to mention it seems to be badly written and empty. I cannot help laughing at myself when I read it and I feel really happy I have improved . Well, there's still a long way to go!
A year later , I find myself so different whether as a teacher, a blogger or a person. New people in my life, new challenges, a lot of changes, some disappointments, gains , but especially so much gratitude for who I am, for who I've become, for what I do , and mainly for those around me who've supported me in many different ways.
After a year I've been to many different conferences, presented online and ftf, mentored teachers ,published articles, travelled, studied, worked , struggled against things and people I should have already left behind and lately I have been celebrating life with my family , friends and colleagues ( those who really have made the difference in my life) more than ever!
This is a special blog post; not only another post but a post written from the heart which reminds me of Luiz Otávio Barros' pleanary session which I attended at the 14th Braz- TESOL International Conference last week. He said " It was just from the heart". And it made a huge difference and touched all of us educators there.
So let's start with Reflective practice:
Why do we teach?
ELTpics by @fionamau
It's not necessary to be in the market for almost 30 years to have a clear idea of how demanding , time consuming and rewarding this profession is and how tough it can get sometimes. Novice teachers easily and quickly have this idea as soon as they embrace this job. In spite of all the complaints, low salaries, extra working hours , teaching is a job usually embraced with the heart and soul.
As a teacher, I cannot imagine not reflecting as a regular part of my teaching practice.
Most of us who are educators , probably wonder from time to time about why we do what we do, and whether efforts we make on behalf of our students have any lasting impact.
I've been thinking about what I'm actually accomplishing in the classroom. The standard view is teaching imparts knowledge , either knowing how (skills) or knowing that (information) .
In one hand, teaching is compared to priesthood: a lot of studying, dedication, extra working hours, investing a lot of money to go to conferences and to develop ourselves as professionals. Teaching also demands from us counselling and mentoring skills, the willing to learn more and an endless list of work which demands from us creativity and passion
Oh the other hand, teaching is one of the most rewarding jobs one can ever embrace. You connect with your students and learn form their stories. Teaching allows us to change the world as our jobs influences hearts and minds and people indeed benefit from what we do. After all we teachers empower people and guide them to creativity and freedom.
One of the realities of teaching , of course, is that our students disappear from our lives quickly and usually permanently , of course, giving us few opportunities to see how we have affected them. One of the rewards of good teaching , therefore, should be the knowledge that we have instilled , modes of thinking, created intellectual passions, promoted forms of tolerance and understanding, and, of course, increased knowledge.
What about our classroom practice? Perhaps it's of some help if we think about learning in terms of what we expect our students to remember for sixty minutes, sixty days or sixty years. Let's see:
- The sixty-minute material would generally be information that we would use to introduce students to an area of study or grab their interest in what we hope they will learn;
- The sixty-day material would be knowledge of content of the areas of study that we would expect our students to use in their assignments and tests.
- Finally, the sixty-year material would be the wisdom tat we hope our students would develop as a result of their work shape their lives.
Or, put another way here quoting Gary Gutting:
" We should judge teaching not by the amount of knowledge it passes on, but by the enduring excitement it generates. Knowledge, when it comes, is a later arrival, flaring up, when the time is right, from the sparks good teachers have implanted in their students souls".
What about Professional Development?
Image created by Roseli Serra
Developing as professionals and keep on believing you are on the right track has been a daily challenge we all have to face. It has to do with making choices, investing time and money and focusing on what really matters. It's like a magic trip we have to do in order to get real and consistent foundation as professionals involving theory , practice . reflections and acquiring experience.
The initial teacher training courses such as CELTA and lately the more demanding ones as DELTA are indeed of great help and solid foundations for out careers , but stopping studying and developing would be a huge mistake.
I have probably mentioned before that I believe professional development is an ongoing and endless process. After all, we teachers will never stop being learners!
Having said that, I have some reminders* ( yes, "reminders" because there's nothing new in my words) for the teachers who are starting and for those who are on the way.
*(Inspiried by JJ Wilson's ideas at the 14th Braz- TESOL International Conference)
- Plan your career - set goals and deadlines
- Read deeply
- Learn form great educators such as Paulo freire, Piaget and Vigotsky
- Do action research
- Write your own materials and articles
- Build up a PLN ( Professional Learning Network) and make the most of it.
- Collaborate; share. It's fantastic!
- Give workshops for colleagues and presentations in conferences (Yes, you can! )
- Go to conferences, do courses and apply what you've learned from them .
- Mentor - It's a great way to develop professionally because it forces you to devise your practice.
- Observe and be observed.
- Reflect on your practice
- Be brave
- Be flexible
- Be grateful
Where does Gratitude take place ?
Photo taken from www.reachingcampus.com
Last but not least . I'd like to talk about gratitude regarding my personal and professional life. Yes, your personal life has all to do with your professional life , to the ways you face the bad and good moments, disappointments and happiness , failure and/or success.
Gratitude means thankfulness. The psychologist Michael McCollough claims that " gratitude shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present".
Needless to say I have all the reasons in my life to be grateful. From the past 18 months I have been introduced to a brave new world, I have built an amazing PLN. Thank to this PLN I discovered real friends and amazing colleagues and I have had the chance to do things I have never thought I could. But most of all I have confirmed that "when we are giving and sharing people, the best things return to us".
I cannot help quoting a thanking message I've read the other day:
" This is a deeply personal and honest message to thank you for your unpretentious , instinctive, impulsive and warm reaction when I first showed you my blog. To thank you for your support and sharing me so many times. To thank you for introducing me to such a wonderfully intriguing community of educators. To thank you for making me smile so many times when I see your posts. From simple moments of your life to professionally excellent work I'm honoured to know you. Thank you. "
This is my gratitude message copied from a friend. It's to all of those who, in some or many ways have been part of my life. Apart from my family, I'd like to thank this amazing community of educators, friends and colleagues who have helped me built my PLN and from whom I have learned so much. Thank you for sharing , for caring , for the opportunity to talk to you online, to hug you face to face or for simply being there. Thank you from the bottom of my heart
I am just a passionate teacher and educator. I teach , I learn. It's not a bed of roses, but it's worth indeed!
Enjoy your teaching!