My second special guest for this three-year celebration is another educator from Turkey, Güven Çağdaş Gündoğdu, who has an amazing blog where he does a lot of reflecting and always makes me think. Visit his blog TeachersReflect at http://teachersreflect.wordpress.com/ Congratulations to Güven, who has been nominated for an Edublog award in his first year of blogging!
Vicky: Güven, thanks so much for accepting to give me this interview for the celebration of three new bloggers and the third birthday of my blog!
Güven: It is an honour for me to be presented with this opportunity, Vicky. You have always been a source of inspiration for me; I’m so glad that I am interviewed by you for such a special occasion.
Vicky: Thank you so much, Güven! It goes both ways, I am happy to have you on the blog. Can you tell our readers a few things about yourself and what you do?
Güven: Well, it has been 11 years since I got my BA in English Language Teaching and I have been working at Anadolu University School of Foreign Languages for the past 8 years. I had a chance to work at Middle East Technical University for some time when I first finished university before I got a job at my current institution. I must say I also worked in the exports division of an international firm as a representative after leaving Middle East Technical University.
Vicky: How did you decide to become an educator?
Güven: Honestly, I had never thought I would be a teacher even though I studied ELT. However, I began to like it as I taught my first group of students in a language school before graduation. They were a class of very young learners, and they made me decide to be a teacher because I really loved it when I saw the joy and excitement of learning in their eyes.
Vicky: You teach in university. What department do you teach in? What do you enjoy the most working in academia?
Güven: I teach in the Basic English Department, which means I work with young adults at a range of levels from A to B 2.2. It is quite a challenge because students come straight to our school prior to their actual departments, and they must reach B 2.2 level even if they mostly come as complete beginners before they can study their majors.
Although it is a big challenge, I love it because I meet new students every 8 weeks. Each new group teaches me something new, and I do my best to adapt myself to teaching at changing levels. It may sound strange, but I feel it helps me develop more as a teacher for each group has different needs.
Besides, I am in charge of a unit of 10 teachers, and I am responsible for organizing their classes, materials, and maintaining their motivation at times. I sometimes feel tired, but it is amazing to exchange ideas and tips with my unit. It surely teaches me a load of things.
And the best thing about working in a university is I have access to any source that I need. Anadolu University really has it all from software to hardware available for use, which is something every language teacher dreams about. We are also supported extensively by the board of management for professional development.
Vicky: You are active on Twitter, connecting to many educators. How does this reflect in your work?
Güven: My Twitter experience keeps me up to date with latest information about teaching. This is an important factor for self-development for me. Whenever I learn something new, I try to put it into practice, and I can create a difference in my classes. Doing it helps my students grow more enthusiastic about learning, which in the end gets them to like English.
Secondly, I have known many new people thanks to Twitter, and this has given me a good range of personal learning network. It is due to my PLN that I can always seek advice from great professionals and find solutions to problems that I might encounter.
Most importantly, I have you as one of those great people whose work always inspires me. It was made possible by Twitter.
Vicky: Thank you so much for your kind words, Güven! I really appreciate it. We are connected, but there are many people in education who would like to move beyond the staffroom and are a bit wary of social media. What would you advise them?
Güven: I would say there is nothing to worry about. Social media is magical and it makes wonders in one’s life. Personal experience is the evidence that social media transforms teachers into facilitators and sharers.
Any teacher who wishes to be a part of this magical medium can do it easily. All they need to have is the desire to exchange ideas. It is also good to see that nobody judges nobody, and everybody feels responsible for the learning of others. It should be clear to those who are wary of the social media that once they are in, they will never want to be out because it is a whole different world with countless opportunities for professional development.
Above all, what is there to lose?
Vicky: I completely agree! Let’s go back to your teaching. Can you share one of the highlights in your teaching so far?
Güven: Last year, I volunteered to teach a group of students who were to repeat A level for the fourth time. A lot of colleagues thought I was crazy because they believed those students kept failing due to lack of interest or laziness. However, I believed that those students lacked motivation and guidance.
There were 21 students in the class, and they had lost all hope to pass to the next level. At least they said so. But I told them that we could change things around if they put aside their prejudice and retain that last bit of hope they had as they were there for another try. I also promised them that they would never walk alone, and I would always be ready for assistance outside class hours as well.
By the end of the module (after 8 weeks), those students were able to communicate in English. Even the director of the school witnessed that when she visited one of our lessons on special request from the students. The word she used to describe the class was Impressive.
18 of those 21 students sat for the end of module exam because 3 of them had decided to go to another university, and all those who took the exam passed. This is one thing I will always remember with a smile on my face, and my colleagues now think that I was not crazy when I volunteered to teach those students. They understand that impossible is nothing.
Vicky: That’s amazing! We can see your enthusiasm in your blog posts as well. You are a new blogger with new and fresh ideas. What inspired you to enter the world of blogging?
Güven: A master of teacher education and motivation, Tony Gurr, got me into the world of blogging. One day I was lucky enough to attend a presentation about reflective teaching by him, and I was fascinated. The very next day, I wrote my first reflection ever on the lesson of the day and shared it Tony. He loved it and encouraged me to write more.
As I did that, I became more aware of myself, thus revising and changing certain points about my teaching practices. That being the case, I decided to share my experiences with the world as was advised by Tony and Aysun Güneş, already well-established bloggers.
Do I regret that? Definitely not!
Vicky: In your first year of blogging, you have been nominated for an Edublog award! Congratulations! Can you describe how you felt when you found out?
Güven: When I first found out, I felt over the moon! It was both surprising and exciting. I had never imagined it could happen because I know there is some really serious stuff out there on the blogosphere. Being one of the nominees is great news for it shows that my work is recognized and appreciated, which means that I am doing a good job as a blogger, too. It is also an extra responsibility as it means that I have to improve my style more and more, and I love that responsibility!
Thank you so much for this interview, Güven and my warmest wishes to you!