I know I haven’t been posting recently. My apologies. Some of you know that I’m taking the IHTT (IH Teacher Training) course online, which has been extremely helpful, but also hasn’t allowed me much time for anything else.
Last week’s module was about “Reflexive Practice”. As I’ve found throughout the course, things seem to be fitting in with exactly what I need or with what I’m doing at the moment. And it so happens that last week I ran my first workshop at APPI (Associação Portuguesa de Professores de Inglês), over 100 sessions and people were actually interested in what I had to say? That certainly came as a surprise. My session was entitled “Learning? Sorry, not interested.” and it focused on strategies teachers could use with more challenging groups. A few days before the session I found myself wondering “What are you doing, Sandra?” you see, I’m a relatively young teacher (38) but I’ve been teaching for 20 years. So if yu do the maths this means I started when I was 18. No pre-service course, not even a degree. Fresh out of Proficiency, I was literally thrown into a classroom with nothing but a coursebook and a huge amount of determination.
A lot has evolved in these last 20 years. The teachers and how we look at teaching. The students and their world. All the gadgets and technology available to both them and us. A whole planet, with new challenges that willing or not we are forced to take into the classroom. Like I said, last week was all about reflection in our course so this will be my (almost) first post related to reflection. This time I’d like to talk about new ideas in general. Throughout the conference I saw brilliant PPTs with perfect descriptions of how activities should be staged. I saw a lot of innovative ideas and shared the smile on some people’s faces while secretly telling myself “Yes, that is brilliant, and it will never work.” You see, I find that some of the things (quite a few, actually) that are usually presented at conferences, or even teacher development sessions, are quite utopic. What happens is that sometimes teachers are unable to put them into practice or adapt them to their classes. We live in a world where you either need to always use IWB or never use them at all, because children can’t concentrate for over a minute, these days, and we need to “make” them “be aware” and “focus” on the world around them. It’s funny how I always find that the latest are those who will also tell you they have a hard time using technology. :-)
I heard a number of comments of things like “Yes, everything works for them, nothing works for us.” Or “Of course it will work for him. He’s got a class of 12 while I’ve got 32 kids in my room!” Are we helping teachers? I still have a hard time calling myself a teacher trainer, it’s almost like if I am I move up in the ladder and I don’t know more than them – It’s just not as easy to reach me. In my session I used pictures of the students performing the activities. I wanted to show that is was possible, that it was not just theory, that I was just like them. Because, you see, when I grow up, I want to be just like them: passionate teachers, always looking for different things that might work. No guarantees, just a lot of good will and hope and love for teaching.