Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Teaching x Learning

A teacher writing on a blackboard.Image via Wikipedia

I have just read an awesome post about this young teacher who has decided to give up and try something else, maybe just for a while.
Having been on the road for almost 23 years now I can understand a number of points she is considering. I have been teaching EFL in a Language School, a Binational Center and she comes from the so called regular school teaching fifth graders. However, I think many of the points she highlights will sound familiar for any teacher who happens to be worried about his/her career and what happens in the classroom. It reminds me of a workshop I once attended and the title was "What's happening when nothing is happening in the classroom?".
I know some people who really do not spend any time (waste time in their words)asking so many questions we may never find the answers.
I can't agree. I believe that if we are to survive and be successful as real 21st century teachers/educators there must be room for such discussions and maybe endless questioning.
Recently we have been working a lot on Professional Development and what is said to be effective planning. This is an area I believe we have so much to learn about. Is there really one single effective way to teach? Can't we question rules/theories? Is there room for adaptation? How far can we go? Her considerations about this area in particular struck me the most. I suggest you read her post in hopes you'll be as intrigued as I was and I would appreciate your personal comments.
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Thursday, June 24, 2010

To tweet or not to tweet?

I have said many times I cannot imagine my professional and personal life without my PLN. I remember being introduced to Twitter back in 2008 when I did my online course Webtools4BrazilianEducators with Carla Arena from Casa Thomas Jefferson. I must confess at that time I was a bit lost and maybe because I'm rather anxious I wanted to use everything I was being introduced to at the same time.
Well, those days are gone but Twitter, in particular, has been a must have for me. I intend to devote some of my time now, maybe during the break in July, to evangelize my colleagues at CCBEUFRANCA and bring them to this enriching community of devoted Educators who have been so helpful whenever I need either to solve a tech problem, discuss some pedagogical issue or simply share something I may have come across and find interesting. Because of my awesome PLN, I have just come across this great video I believe you should all watch and see the amazing potential of Twitter for all of us.
Hope you enjoy it and, as usual, I would love to read your opinions about it. Have you started using twitter yet? What have you been doing with it? Has anything let you down?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Save them

I know it's not an easy task but I have started thinking more seriously about this responsibility we have in our hands as Educators - save (help) the students that would not be considered the most brilliant ones. The inspiration for writing/reflecting came after reading an oustanding post by another must-follow blogger Shelly Terrell.
I have made a number of mistakes as a teacher and I'm glad I have had the chance to be honest about it and try to see things in a different perspective. Isn't it what living is all about? Learning from mistakes. I can't help thinking about a song "Lessons to be learned", the main idea being in life "there are no mistakes, just lessons to be learned".
Back to the ideas from the original post, I was particularly touched by a list of suggestions, kindly shared by another educator in the comments section of Shelly's post, for us to follow as Educators if we are to survive and make a difference in at least one student's life who is close to us.
From the 15 pieces of advice mentioned I guess number 15 really called my attention and it reads " We have time schedules where students are required to meet a certain level. Yet some can’t work within that time limit. It takes them longer to understand. Should we penalise them?"
This is a dilemma I have faced quite often in my career as an EFL teacher and two weeks ago I was talking exactly about it with a student of mine. She is redoing a course at the Binational Center where I teach and she's not doing "as expected" by the system again.
However, I told her I can see a lot of improvement in her performance since we started working together in February. So just like the other teacher commented she may not have reached the "expected" level of performance to move on to a higher level, yet she has made a lot of progress in the last 5 months and this must be taken into consideration.
So, this is a great opportunity for reflection. I think more often than not we end up turning our backs to "problems" assuming there is not much to be done. We are, as teachers/educators, many times overworked and it's only natural to feel demotivated to fight even harder to motivate the so called difficult, hopeless students. Who is going to motivate us? Well, different people will certainly have a different answer. As for me, I can say it is extremely gratifying when you see someone coming close to you to thank you because you were simply there for them when they themselves have thought about giving up.

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