Tuesday, December 24, 2013

End of Year Thoughts

A belated happy birthday to my blog!  Three years ago this month, I posted its birth cry.  That was about one year into my classroom teaching experience, but I didn't really get going with posts until the blog was about a year old.
credit to Will Clayton
Frankly, my first two years of teaching were so crazy, I didn't have time for blogging anyway!  There was not only my basic lack of experience, but my free-range status meant that I was spending a lot of time on the road shuttling between home, the main office, and several widely-separated class sites.  I eventually was able to consolidate my classes into one site on the same days, and I began trying to minimize the frequency of my trips to HQ for photocopying. I also spent a lot of personal time developing a spreadsheet for tracking and reporting attendance and assessment at the teacher level. At the time, we were doing that work on paper!!  That situation is in the process of changing at our agency, but in the meantime the spreadsheet liberated a lot of time that used to be spent adding up numbers and putting them into manager-digestible form. And accuracy is better too!

As time was freed up, I found myself browsing ELT blogs more often.  Hooray for everyone who posted reflections so freely and honestly!  While ESL is nowhere near as isolating an experience as EFL can be, teaching offsite and hitting the main office for an hour every two weeks really limits contact with other teachers, you know?  It's so nice to have access to insights, ups, and downs from other real people who love ELT.  I can't express how valuable it has been.  It inspired me to blog more wholeheartedly myself, so there you have it!

One major discover from blog-browsing was Dogme, or teaching unplugged.  Obviously, less dependence on materials would benefit a free range teacher!  But that wasn't actually the main appeal for me.  It was the compatibility of its main principles with practices I was already trying to follow in other aspects of my life -- in short: paying attention to "now", viewing life as a dynamic process that I don't control but I may influence by my choices, not being attached to "stuff" (or to not needing "stuff", for that matter!).  And there's the connection to linguistics research supporting the notion of learning/language as a dynamic process.   I feel as if I'm making progress with unplugging my lessons and am working on a post about that to get the new year going.

In the meantime, a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you!  I'm heading to the shell-strewn beaches of Sanibel Island for drinks with paper umbrellas and maybe some birdwatching ...

from Ken Douglas

PS: while I was writing this post I noticed that Teaching Unplugged is now a Kindle book!  I can stop carrying my battered paper copy around, yippee!!  If you're unfamiliar with the book, you can browse it a bit at the link.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats my dear for another year of blogging. I'm very grateful that you have a blog and that I had the lovely opportunity to connecting to you. Like you I usually carry my Teaching Unplugged with me too. I remember waiting almost a month for it to arrive and happily browse it a thousand times. I highly recommend it too. Cheers to another year of blogging from you Kathy. Please come by whenever you can to share your journey, your learning, your thoughts, anything is so appreciated.