(image taken from http://www.g-codemagazine.com)
When I read about Vicky Loras’ blog challenge here I decided to write about my own story, not my “how I came to be an au pair, fell in love with the region (and…!) and did a CELTA as speaking English was the only skill I had…” story but my CPD story.
After having done my CELTA so long ago that it was called a CTEFLA I entered the wilderness years. I taught at a language school where I was shown the book cupboard (which contained a few dusty copies of “Headway” and “Business Objectives”) and left to get on with it. A new colleague arrived and I was actually supposed to teach the girl a few things about teaching, me! So I showed her the book cupboard and left her to get on with it.
Thankfully there were a few forays out into the world of TEFL, a couple of workshops organised by ETAS, the English Teachers Association of Switzerland, then I discovered Penny Ur’s “Grammar Games and Activities” and my parents managed to find it in a book shop in the UK and send it me for Christmas.
The spread of the internet was the BIG BANG in my development as a teacher, living in a small village in France meant I survived on dial up connection for a painfully long time, you may be lucky enough not to know what this means so I’ll explain. A long time ago internet connection went down the phone line, so you had to unplug your phone to plug in your ethernet cable, you could then search for a page and go and make a cup of tea while waiting for it to come up. If you changed page you would also have time to put the washing out and clean the windows. As you can imagine my house was much cleaner back in those days!
Thanks to Amazon I was able to spend a frightening proportion of my salary on resource books, although as teaching is my passion and main hobby I’ve never really begrudged this. My CPD “road to Damascus” moment came about with the development of webinars, now I could finally attend all those wonderful workshops and seminars I’d missed, stuck in one of the most beautiful places on earth:
(image taken from https://www.facebook.com/LaFermeduPecheur?fref=photo)
Life continued it’s path for a few years, my lessons got slowly better thanks to an online diploma and organisations like ETAS and IATEFL. Obviously things were just too calm and so I decided to shake things up a little.
Just over a year ago I decided to send in a workshop proposal for the IATEFL Harrogate conference. I had never given a workshop or seminar before. IT WAS ACCEPTED!! I can still remember opening the email and screaming, I think my son will never forget that moment either.
Once I’d stopped hyperventilating I started organising myself. I needed to do a dry run, so I contacted Andy Hart, the Geneva regional coordinator for ETAS and he kindly let me do my workshop at the Bell school where he is director. This renewed my contacts with ETAS, which I had let slip over the previous few years, and I decided to put in a proposition for different workshop for their PD (Professional development) Day in September, this was also accepted.
While I was at it I decided to send in an article on a similar theme (dyslexia in the language classroom) which was also accepted by the ETAS journal. Then things started to snowball, a lot. My contact with ETAS first included the editorial board of their journal, I’ve had to step back from this role however as I’ll be taking on the Teen SIG chair in the New Year.
I’ve also recently taken over from Andy as Geneva coordinator, and with a good friend; Karen, we have set up a regular teacher meet under the name of “teacherholics”, which perfectly describes our addiction to good practice in teaching I think. I also facilitated another workshop at TESOL Paris last month.
So basically in the last twelve months I have given four workshops, written three or four articles that have been or will soon be published, become Geneva regional coordinator and helped set up a teacher support group, and I forgot to mention I’m also helping Urs Kalberer (the present Teen coordinator) to put together a special supplement on TEENS for the ETAS journal next summer.
Next year so far – In January I’ll be giving a workshop at ETAS AGM and taking over as Teens SIG chair and I’m giving a CPD afternoon workshop for my colleagues. I’ve been accepted to give another talk at the IATEFL international conference, this year in Manchester. We’ll be continuing our work on the summer journal, and organising workshops in Geneva with ETAS and Teacherholics. I’ll also be continuing my second year of the MA TESOL I’m doing with Sheffield Hallam university.
I can’t believe how much my teaching life has changed in the last fourteen months, it’s really a case of “he who dares…” I’ve learnt that if you don’t put yourself outside your comfort zone it’s very difficult to develop and grow, and boy, have I done that! It’s scary, but wonderful, I’m always telling my students that things are only worth doing if they’re a challenge, and here is my next challenge: I’ll be giving my first webinar with Cambridge English teacher next Wednesday!