I am delighted to present you with one of my eduheroes, Priscila Mateini from Brazil. Priscila is a teacher, a super-mom and a great person I have connected to on social media and I am very happy to learn from and with her. This interview really touched my heart, because in Priscila’s words you can see the enthusiasm and love for what she does, exactly the same way one sees them in her words when she writes on Facebook or Twitter.
She uses the word happynumerous times throughout our interview, which is the essence of education and our work as educators, I believe – Priscila is the embodiment of this, and that is why I have decided to give that title to the interview as well; it is all inspired by her!
My third guest for this special celebration is Carol Goodey, an educator from Scotland who was one of the first people I connected to on Twitter. I admire her work immensely and there were times when I wished she would start blogging – and she did! You can read her great blog at http://cgoodey.wordpress.com/
Vicky:Carol, welcome to my blog with this interview for the celebration of three new bloggers and the third birthday of my blog! I am so happy as you have been one of the first people I ever connected to online three years ago, and we have been in close connection ever since.
Carol: Thank you for asking me to be part of this celebration, Vicky. It’s a real honour to be featured on your blog. Congratulations on your blog’s third birthday!
Vicky:For those of our readers who meet you for the first time, can you introduce yourself and tell us about your work in education as well?
Carol: I live in Scotland and work with the local authority in community learning and development as an adult literacies and ESOL worker. I get to work with a range of people who want to improve their literacies, numeracy and English language for use in the different contexts of their lives. I work with people who have moved to the area from around the world and people who have lived here for much longer, including people with learning disabilities. I really enjoy the variety.
Vicky: How did you decide to become involved in education?
Carol: I first started as a volunteer literacies tutor and, working with ESOL learners, decided I wanted to find out more about language learning. I had already done studies in the English language and was happy to have an excuse to do more! While I was pursuing further studies, a paid literacies post became available. I applied and got it. I worked there for a few years before moving on to work with university students but quickly realized that I missed the community learning and development approach and was fortunate to be able to get my job back.
Vicky: You have chosen social media to connect with many teachers around the world. How did you start out? What are the benefits and challenges, if any?
Carol: I was following an English Language Teaching discussion group. Some of the contributors mentioned Twitter and so, out of curiosity, I investigated. It took me three tries to finally get the hang of it. I’m glad I did because, through it, I’ve got to know some really interesting practitioners and learned a huge amount. More recently, I’ve been using Facebook to connect with other educators but I’m still getting used to that.
Vicky: There are several educators who are not connected to others on social media. What would you like to tell them?
Carol: Give it a go! It can be overwhelming at times, particularly when you first start but if you build up the people you follow slowly, get to know them, add the people they are chatting to, and don’t try to read everything, it can be a very worthwhile and enjoyable experience.
Vicky: Can you share one of the best moments in your teaching so far?
Carol: I’m really excited about a project I’ve been working on with a Community Learning and Development colleague which aims to bring people from different parts of the community together to learn about, with and from each other. We wanted to promote social inclusion and increase awareness of different people’s abilities, backgrounds and beliefs. We started with big engagement events – a ceilidh, food night, singing workshop and beetle drive – and are hoping to continue with similar events alongside more regular and sustainable activities such as sporting groups, international coffee mornings, etc. It’s been really enjoyable and we’ve had a lot of really positive feedback. While not teaching exactly, there have been lots of valuable learning opportunities. ESOL learners have had the opportunities to use English and get to know more local people. Other community members have learned more about people from other countries and have developed their own skills in communicating with speakers of other languages, making integration and inclusion that wee bit easier.
Vicky: You have recently started a blog. How did you decide to set up your own?
Carol: It’s taken me a while to set up my own, but I’ve been enjoying and learning from others for so long I felt I should make a contribution too. I had put it off because, with so many great blogs out there, I didn’t see what I would have to add. I was also a bit nervous about the time commitment, or spam, or other unforeseen hassles. But now that I’ve started, I’ve found that I really enjoy the process of writing. I find it absorbing and relaxing. It’s good to have a space whenever I feel I have something to share.
Vicky: Can you close with a wish to all educators, with the holidays getting closer?
Carol: If you do have holidays over the next few weeks, I hope you get the chance to have some space for yourself and take time to enjoy the small pleasures in life – whatever they might be for you.
Vicky: A huge thank you, Carol! I hope to meet you in person sometime next year!
Carol: It’s been a real pleasure, Vicky. Thank you for having me and I look forward to meeting you soon!
And after the excitement of Day One…Day Two came along for all of us to learn, connect and have fun!
I started my day with Mike Harrison’s super session Before Words: Ideas for Using Images and Sound in the Classroom. It was the first time I had attended Mike’s session and I loved it! I got so many ideas about what you can do with pictures and sound effects in class. We even did a visual poem. I teamed up with Deniz Atesok, a great educator from Turkey in the activities that Mike showed us and we came up with some great ideas! I will definitely be using his ideas with my students – and I will definitely be attending more of his sessions in the future. You can find a plethora of ideas on his great blog! A big thank you to Mike!
Right after Mike – the drama specialist and enthusiastic presenter (and very good friend – I am so happy to know her!) Anna Musielak! Ania’s presentation was called Break the Ice with Drama. I had seen Ania last year as well and I could not wait to attend her session this year either!
Ania presented so many ideas, you definitely have to catch her at a conference – her enthusiasm is amazing and so are her ideas, which work with all ages. We took part in many activities and could see in practice how great these ideas are. I loved how Ania’s ideas made everyone so enthusiastic, lots of people volunteered to take part in the activities. Lots and lots of ideas. Ania is also star guest blogger on many blogs, including mine. Her posts are definitely worth reading! Thanks so much, Ania!
After our lunch break, it was time to see Cecilia Lemos in action in her session, Ideas for Improving Studentsʼ Writing Skills: My Experience. Ceci gave us amazing ideas of how to integrate writing actively in our classes – a skill that has been often disliked by students for the reason that (we have all heard it and Ceci pointed it out as well) they have nothing to write. She introduced us to some nice tips for writing, such as motivating the students into writing the essay paragraph by paragraph wothout even realising it, and then putting them all together to make their very own writing piece – and prove to themselves that they can write! I also like how Ceci told us how she motivates her kids to read – they all read the same book, which she has chosen carefully to be apporopriate for all tastes and for both genders. She has also done a webinar on the same topic which you can see, along with other super posts, on her blog.
Right after, it was time for the one and only Luke Meddings and his plenary Dogme and the City.
I really liked how Luke paralleled language learning and teaching and exploring the city of Paris. It was a really great pleasure to listen to Luke and talk to him afterwards – we also enjoyed his Greta Garbo impersonation!
Thanks for a great plenary, Luke! Truly enlightening and I look forward to attending more talks from Luke in the future.
Then it was time for Marisa Constantinidis – her session was The Reading Challenge: Motivation & creativity in reading lessons. Lots of educators heistate to use reading texts in their classes because they think the students may get bored. Marisa showed us so many ways to utilise texts in class successfuly, and get lots of things from them! She weaved reading texts into so many activities and extended them to speaking as well. I loved Marisa’s ways of motivating students to read – it counts to a great extent on how teachers present a reading text for the students to approach it! A great presentation form a wonderful person and educator! Read Marisa’s excellent blog for more great ideas – I am giving a link to her very imimportant challenge for people with disabilities, which she pointed out in Paris as well and I believe is a very important issue for all educators to keep in mind.
Right after Marisa, the last session of the day I attended was Ceri Jones’s, You’ve Got Mail. She gave us very interesting ideas on how to use e-mail in class, as a means of communication with our students (letting them know what has happened in case of absence, for instance, but also as an exchange of language between the teacher and students). Ceri and her students did an excellent job in extending their linguistic abiltites and improving significantly in writing – something I found very interesting, as I communicate a lot with my students via e-mail, almost on a daily basis. I am definitely taking a lot of ideas from Ceri’s session! Read her super blog Close Up – great work there!
Then we had the Open Mic Night, which was a huge success and so much fun! Lots of singing, juggling, poetry reading – you name it : )
I am very happy to announce my first ever blog challenge called:What’s Your Story?
After writing on my blog about my experience on moving to Switzerland after closing our school in Greece, my adjusting to a new country, new job(s) and a new life in general, I would love to hear your story! For me, writing about it was like a catharsis, revisiting a difficult time in my life, which turned out to be the best decision I have ever made!
If you decide to take part in the challenge, it can be about anything you consider important in your life or career, that has helped shape you as a person or educator. You can decide what to share!
Have you made a big move?
A career change?
Have you been teaching and living in a country for a long time, but have seen changes in yourself as a person, educator or both?
Are you thinking of a change in the future?
You can choose! If you have your own blog, post your story there and I will also add the link on my blog, on this post, if it is okay with you as well. If you do not have a blog, feel free to send me your post at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will post it on my blog! Or ask a friend who has a blog, anything you like.
Thanks for reading and I will be very happy to read your stories – as I am sure lots of people out there are too!
Posts on What’s Your Story:
Matt Ray writes on his blog: I woke up that morning screaming in pain, struggling to move my legs. No doubt, I put quite a fright into my parents who, in the midst of our summer vacation, were confronted with their 6-year old son suddenly being unable to walk. […]
Sue Annan writes her own story on her blog: When I left school I applied for the local Teacher Training College and was accepted. I was half way through the programme when… […]
Paco Gascon shares how he went through a dilemma in his post: The point is writing about some kind of turning point in our life and/or career, so, I’m going to tell you about how I had to decide – in a matter of hours – whether to take up (again) a career as a secondary education teacher or to stick to a juicy full time contract at a graphic design studio. […]
Read Tyson Seburn‘s post Turning Points in You Story: Do your colleagues know much about your language teaching background beyond a list of qualifications and positions of employment? Sharing where you began, your process of growth, and goals for the future can help inspire, foster and contribute to growth in members or your community, not to mention build a connection to individuals where there may have been little before. I hope sharing mine supports one of these. […]
Read Lesley‘s postfor the challenge: I’m going to tell the story about how I came to be an English language teacher. The last thing I thought I’d be when I was at school was a teacher. Being a librarian was probably the second last thing. But I’ve been both! […]
Tinashe Blanchet has writtenThis Is My Story: In response to Vicky Loras’ “What’s your Story?” challenge , I am posting a little of my personal story this morning in hopes that it will shed further light on why I do what I do. […] I grew up on the west side of Chicago as the only child of a single mother. There were many issues between my mom and me, especially as I got older and began to test boundaries. […]
Tuba Bauhoferexplains how she learned a third language and how much it influenced her life in her post Bilinguality and Literacy by Manjula Datta: I read this book when I was doing my research for the assignment I had to write in my course. I liked how the writer referred to her own language learning experience as a foreigner in the UK. […]
Faisal Shamali recounts a story of a student of his in his post Finally I Did It: My name is Musallum. I was in level One in FPU. I studied Speaking course with Mr. Faisal. I want to tell you about my story clearly and honestly. […]
Read Janet Bianchini‘s beautiful and moving story The Abbruzzo Dream – My Story: Worlds apart yet a destiny foretold. My blood is 100% from Abruzzo, my heart is 100% British. Two countries forever intertwined from the moment of my birth. […]
Read Luiz Reikdal‘s post of how his teaching and life changed through the use of technology: […] Since November last year I started using and testing technology myself. That was breathtaking…by just visualizing the potentiaIity of Web 2.0 in the classroom. […]
Fiona Price from England has written her beautiful story as well: My Story: […] It was back in 1977, in the days of the Magic Bus, which involved a very long and extremely exhausting three-day coach trip to Athens with an overnight stop-over in Austria. […]
Lu Bodeman from Brazil writes about her story: How she got into teaching and her beautiful multicultural background: […] Well, I stumbled into the English language teaching profession, really. I never took formal language lessons, but discovered early in life (7 years old) how languages and culture would be important in my life. […]
Naomi Epstein writes about the time she immigrated from the States to Israel, an eleven-year-old girl: […] I was able to identify with her story of immigration as I moved to Israel from the United States when I was eleven years old. […]
Arjana Blazic writes about her transformationas an educator: […] Do I lead such an amazing life? Do I have such a story? I’ve never lived anywhere else but in Croatia. I’ve never done anything else but teach. I’m not thinking about a change in the future… […]
Vicky Saumell writes about how she transformedinto a full-time teacher: First of all, I want to be straightforward about the content of this post: it is not about technology. So I want to apologize in advance to my techie audience but I have wanted to write about this for a while and this is the best space for it, anyway. […]
Işıl Boy writes her story originally written for Dave Dodgson‘s great blog: First, I want to thank my dear course mate Dave for offering me to write a guest post on his insightful blog. We are both doing our master’s at the University of Manchester, Educational Technology and TESOL. […]
Liam Dunphy takes us on a trip around the world with his beautiful story: […] I grew up in Dun Laoghaire, a pretty seaside port town on the south side of Ireland’s capital city, Dublin. […]
James Taylor celebrates his blogoversary and tells us his great story: […] I studied Media Studies, specifically television production, at university. I studied it because I was, and still am, an avid consumer of the media and the arts. […]
Mieke Kenis recounts her beautiful storyof her love for teaching and England: […] My story is a long one, as I have been teaching for 31 years but it’s a simple story as teaching is all I have ever done. I have wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. […]
Dave Dodgson tells us his very interesting story: […] Over the last few weeks, I have thought a lot about what to write – the story of how and why I decided to enter the world of TEFL in the first place, what me me come to and stay in Turkey, how I ended up teaching kids, when I started to see this as my career and not just a way to live abroad or pay the bills…. […]
Brad Patterson, a very good friend in France, has published his photo-blog story: Beautiful post and pictures! : Imagine a pilgrimage… where you trekked for month after month… and each step took you somewhere you’d never been before… […]
Wiktor Kostrzewski writes his wonderful journey through Englishon his blog: […] It’s late in the evening. We’re sitting in the kitchen, my Dad and I. We’re going through the first few pages of my first English textbook. My Dad asks a question, and I think long and hard before giving an answer. “Yes,” he says, surprised. “That’s not what the answer key says, but that’s also possible.” […]
Ana Luisa Lozano writes her beautiful Ecuadorean story on her blog: […] It has been a long learning and teaching path since 1998, wonderful time in which I have had the opportunity to teach English to Primary, Secondary and University students. […]
Ann Loseva from Moscow writes her inspiring story – and gives us all a lot of inspiration and strength: […] How have I become the teacher I am, the personality I think I am? Well, it does look to me like a pretty tough question to tackle. Many things have been happening shaping my teaching style and affecting my personality. […]
As a student, either in Canada or in Greece later on, or in university after that, I have been lucky in the fact that I have had a lot of teachers and professors whom I remember very fondly. This happened for the reason that they were great people and educators, and that they encouraged students to build on their inclinations and even in subjects where they sometimes struggled, to try hard and believe in themselves.
I remember in university having a tough time with Sociolinguistics. I really loved listening to our lecturer, and participating in class discussions (sometimes, as I usually hesitated to contribute, as I thought I would say something silly) and reading the material, but I still felt I was barely keeping my head above water.
One day, our professor asked us a question and I thought whether I should raise my hand and answer. Better not, I thought. You will probably say something and embarrass yourself in front of so many people (it was always a full house with this woman – she was such a great educator in many respects!). So some students were waiting to answer with hands raised. Suddenly I saw her turn to me. “You!” she said loudly. “You over there.” I was petrified with fear, I am sure I turned red as well. “I want you to answer.” And she came right in front of me (I always sat in the front row). “Well?” she said. So I answered in a low voice and she said: “Right. Look what you have done. First you don’t want to answer at all. Then you whisper your answer, you have deprived the class of a great opinion! And everyone’s opinion counts in here!” she boomed. (Even when she was praising us, she did it in a very loud tone.) “I learn from you too, you know!” and she gave us all big smile. “If you hesitate to anwer me once more”, she told me (in her loud tone again), “I’ll come over there and stand in front of you until you let it out! Got it?” and then she winked at me.
I cannot tell you that from that day on that Sociolinguistics became one of my favourite courses. I just loved studying it and yes, taking part in class conversations. I just had not given myself the chance up to then to see what I could do. I thought that I could not understand the complex notions. So what if I gave the wrong answer? I would learn from someone else. Needless to say, that was another day when I decided that if I ever became a teacher, I would never give up on any student of mine. And to this day, I have not.
Get to know more about Matthew Ray, a special education educator based in New York City and the person behind the More Than 140 project. Matt talks about his super projects with his students, speaks some Greek and discloses his culinary talents! Enjoy.
A few days ago, I was very happy to be contacted by Matthew Ray, in order to start a great project we are calling “More than 140.” We hope you will follow the hashtag #MoreThan140, as well as our blogs and youtube channels (links are provided after the video).
Watch the video to find out more about our project:
Vodpod videos no longer available.
***Update: We are working on figuring out how to upload wetoku/vodpod videos to youtube. In the meantime, the videos will be hosted on vodpod, which you can access by clicking here.
The fourteenth goal is, in my opinion, a very strong foundation for the rest of the goals to materialise. An ideal classroom culture has been successfully created when:
– Students feel comfortable in their classroom and view it as a place where they love to learn.
– Educators and students co-operate and see each other as members of a great learning team.
– Parents and caregivers are welcome to come in and visit at times, in order to enjoy the great learning atmosphere.
– There is mutual respect and everyone is valued.
– Students do not leave immediately when the lesson is over, but enjoy staying at school and working on their school material or helping each other. (Sometimes they even stay after school to help the teacher tidy up the classroom, which is very nice and reflects the atmosphere of helping and co-operation!)
– Educators feel comfortable in their classrooms, love what is happening there, that they even go there on weekends or stay longer after school (as long as they don’t overdo it!).
Maths was one of those subjects that I was not particularly fond of, but didn’t dislike either. Perhaps I favoured Geometry much more and Algebra less. I was pretty good at it. Or so I thought.
I was a freshman in high school and had a new maths teacher who was constantly challenging us with interesting stuff and I liked that. Until we had our first major test and…I did not do well at all. I was a bit disappointed when I got my paper back but thought that next time I should try a bit harder and check where my weaknesses were. What totally shot me down was my teacher’s comment after class. “Well”, he said, “you saw your test result. We are not all mathematical geniuses and you are well…more of a language person and I don’t think you’ll ever be good at maths, like some other kids. That’s life.”
With this short comment, this person completely shot down my interest in the subject and more importantly, my self-esteem. He did not even sit with me for one minute to explain where I had not done well, what could have been the cause and so on. His comment just translated for me that no matter how hard I tried, I was going to achieve nothing.
Of course after I graduated and became a teacher, some of my students had this same teacher who did it to some of them as well. It made me wonder: this person was working in schools, with kids who had dreams, thinking he was teaching (well he may have given them his knowledge daily in class), but was he missing the point or what: kids are going to fail for some reason or another. Perhaps they do not study as much. Perhaps it was a bad day – they might be students whose stress takes over them and who can perform well in those circumstances? Maybe they have a learning disability which hinders them from performing as well as they would like to and with some help could do wonders.
What students need is constant encouragement and motivation. Does a failure define them as personalities or the rest of their lives? We should see it as an opportunity to teach them much more than the subject itself.
I have written about this before in a post on Goal Number Two. There you can read about one of my students I had in Greece who is really brave and faced his failure by trying even harder, even though he was disappointed at first.
I am positive and confident there are a lot of educators who constantly encourage their students and help them overcome failures. Congratulations to all of you and keep up the excellent work!
Many thanks to Marisa Constantinides for suggesting this blog challenge – and for reminding both teachers and students all that disabilities do belong in the classroom and we should always keep in mind people who have some kind of impairment.
The lesson I have prepared especially for this blog challenge is a poem, one of my favourite kinds of literature to teach with. I like using poems for various topics and I believe that this poem by A.C.Leming called Dreams, which is about physical impairment, would be suitable to include in such a lesson.
In my opinion, poetry is an excellent medium of language which conveys messages, thoughts and feelings in a special way and gives students great food for thought. Plus, it can give the students a lot of inspiration and a new way to examine a topic!
I would use the specific poem with upper-intermediate or advanced students.
A pre-reading activity could be to make a word cloud out of all the words of the poem and have the students write their own poem, using all the words.
They can then look at their own work and the poem itself, compare and discuss why they wrote their own the way they did and why the poet chose to write hers in another.
Some questions as they are reading/looking at the poem could be:
● Look at the poem. What does the shape remind you of? What does it look like? (A staircase. Why?)
● Why do you think the title is Dreams? (Any idea can be accepted, as it is poetry)
one by one, feeling
muscles clench and relax
at the direction of the nerves driven
by my will to ascend up and up, away
from the darkness of waking, immobile, in
my hospital bed.
After you have read the poem:
● What feelings has the shape and the poem itself generated?
● Why is she separating my and dreams, in your opinion?
● Now that you have read the poem, what is she dreaming of?
● What kind of words is she using to show direction (up, up, away, ascend – why does she use words that all show upward motion?)
● Why is the last line at the far right end of the rest of the poem?
● Ask them if they can draw any images that come from their reflection on the poem. The images can depict their feelings or any images evoked after reading the poem.
After analysing the poem, the conversation can take a more general direction:
● How are people with impairments treated in your country? (Are there facilities for them, like special rehabilitation centres, special entrances, ramps and special restrooms in buildings)?
● This question can be a bit sensitive, so you can ask them generally if they know of someone with an impairment. They do not have to tell you who it is, but they can explain to the class what kind of impairment the person has, how s/he handles it in everyday life and anything else they can think of.
● Throughout the lesson you can focus on vocabulary pertinent to the subject, such as visually -, physically- or mentally impaired and so on.
● As an after-class assignment, they can write a letter to the Minister of Education of their country on a topic such as: What solutions can be found for disabled people to be integrated into society?
December 3rd is International Disability Day. The lessons on disabilities can be used then, but I suggest choosing any day to remind everyone of people with disabilities.
Marisa, thank you so much!
(Many thanks to Marisa for recommended the drawing activities, the word cloud and the last writing assignment – I had come up with something different, but I liked Marisa’s idea much better!)