IATEFL 2018 Forum – effective and personalised: the holy grail of CPD

1. How do you create a culture of CPD?

by Oliver Beaumont from Regent Oxford and Duncan Jamieson from OISE

They see CPD like a big beautiful garden. For greta things to happen, you need the right conditions. Important to focus not only on what you are doing but also on how.

Conditions needed: engage, energise, empower

Engage

What nutrients do you need to engage your teachers in CPD?

The vision, sharing the purpose of thea ctivity. Why is it happening at this time, how does it fit in with teachers’ career path and the vision of the school? Relevance need sto be clear. The environment – set up the conditions of the room so that it is conudicive to CPD, with posters that reflect the methodology in use and flipcharts from previous sessions. Make it a priority, ringfence time. How can you replicate that in your school? Not doing it after hours or in a lunchtime.

Energise

Give teachers a level of autonomy not only in how they deveop but what they develop as well. A level of choice in where they are going to go with it. This gives them ownership over it, making it more likely that they will invest in it and make an effort. Collaboration – try to foster it as much as possible.

Empower

It’s a grand word but purposefully so. Often the part that is missed. It starts with follow up – meaningful action following whatever CPD so that development doesn’t stop at the end of the workshop. Feedforward – looking to the future and looking to help the teacher to develop, coaching them to be better.  Impact – reflect on the impact not just of the training session or peer obs but on the implementation and how it affects learning etc.

Transfer of learning into practice – if you add feedback and coaching into a session with theory and demonstration and practice, transfer increases dramatically.

Three examples of activities

  • Flash training
  • Personalised peer obs
  • Academic flair development programme

Focus not on what but how, this is how to put EEE into practice.

Flash training

Inspired by flash mob – short period of time, full of energy, memorable. Good for busy times. A simple way to do a CPD exercise that doesn’t need a lot of time. You only need 20 minutes.

  • Look at a current practice. (How do you…? How often do you…?) Input some fresh ideas – a few practical ideas or resources
  • Action (What will you do this week with what came up in the session)

The following week for 10 minutes you have reflection – they can reflect on how it went, they can invite a peer in to observe for the specific period where they are doing something and focus on that particular point.

Personalised peer observations

Trying to move away from the lottery element where you go in not knowing what you are going to see, maybe see some good ideas maybe not, maybe put them into practice maybe not.

Decide on a personal focus (what is it that you want to develop in your teaching); construct an observation tool that targets this element; go and observe a lesson using that tool; reflect with peer and design an action plan. (E.g. swap and be observed using the tool you made)

Academic flair development programme

The opportunity to explore beyond a single session:

Progress theory – not just driving for the end goal but when workers (teachers in this case) can see progress, small steps of progress:

Exploring psychology in language learning and teaching – Marion Williams, Sarah Mercer, and Stephen Ryan

If you are looking to create a culture of CPD, focus on the nutrients, focus on the conditions, and amazing things will grow from there.

2. Are we really supporting new teachers?

Alistair Roy, manager of a BC teaching centre just outside Madrid.

Why this topic?

He has been teaching for 12 years, has worked for 6 dfferent schools and had 12 different posts. A lot of change, a lot of coming and going has been seen. Out of those 12 posts, only in 1 of them has there been a proper mentor and mentoring process. 26 – the number of people he has “mentored” in his career apparently. In one year he remembers having 7 mentees at one time, which is basically impossible. In Sept 2017, he started his latest role of manager. He had no mentor or induction. He got a phonecall on Friday and was told to start on Monday. He also had to deal with two brand new teachers when he was also brand new. When he asked other centres for help, he got checklists with things like “Do you have an ID card?” to use with the teachers. Not mentoring. He has since spoken to 24 different teachers about this issue, to show the teacher’s point of view of mentoring.

Do you remember your first day in your current job? Was it overwhelming? Yes. Most common doubts: How do the computers work? Do we use course books? What? Where? What is the assessment policy? Is there an acceptable behaviour policy? Where are the toilets? etc.

Do you remember your first day as a teacher? In addition to all the above the fact that you have never taught a class alone in your life.

Scraps of paper were planted in the audience. Think of them as info, questions, doubts etc teachers have on first day of work. They had to try and hit him with them. 6 hit. So imagine 6 things stuck beyond day 1. The rest: the pieces of missed information.

On one occasion he gave a checklist to a T and most of the answers were I don’t know. Information overload had occurred.

Were you assigned a mentor? What should a mentor be?

  • a carer
  • a teacher (a leader)
  • a friend
  • not a soldier but a colleague
  • same level as you

A person who guides and supports by building trust and modelling behaviour

In one role, in a regular school, his induction programme lasted for the whole first year. He had an actual real mentor. Was one of the best things that happened to him ever. The mentor was in the same department, had a weekly 45 minute meeting built into the schedule. He was observed 9 times in the one academic year. Had the chance to observe 4 peers. He had a structured training programme provided and a training record that he could take with. He was given a bi-annual appraisal.

In the next role, a private language school. There was…none of the above. He was given in-house training from unskilled owners (never done a CELTA). He was given a contract and “the talk”. Then told to go teach FCE and Advanced. He didn’t know what they were.

91,7% of the people he spoke to have never been given a mentor.

What makes a good mentor?

  • good communicator
  • well organised
  • approachable
  • available
  • honest but fair
  • diplomatic
  • understanding
  • objective

What should a good mentor do?

  • make time
  • share experience
  • set a journey
  • be curious
  • be inquisitive
  • help the mentee self-assess
  • share
  • reflect

What can managers do?

  • invest – not just economically
  • dedicate time and resources (give teacher and mentor time to talk together)
  • support
  • understand (don’t forget what it’s like to be there)
  • a good teacher is your best resource (if you don’t keep them, you’ve got nothing)

After 5 years, 91% of teachers who have a good mentor stay in the profession. That falls to 71% if they don’t have a mentor. Quite a distinctive difference. Highlights the importance of a good, structured mentoring programme.

3. Personalised Development Groups: A framework for collaborative, teacher-led CPD

Josh Round and Andy Gaskins

Personalised Development Groups is shortened to PDGs.

  • Research underpinning approach
  • What are PDGs and how to do they work?
  • Evaluation – how personalised and effective are they?

Traditional approaches are one size fits all, the focus is decided by the manager or trainer (top down), easy for participants to consume passively, probably not much follow up, minimal impact on practice.

There is a lot of research available now on the importance of CPD and its impact on improving student outcomes. Need to make this clear to the teaching team, is not just a tick box thing.

E.g. of research

(Josh highlighted the highlighted words.)

Need to move away from transmission of knowledge and skills to something more collaborative. reflective development, creating learning communities.

A fresh approach to CPD

They wanted something less top-down. They would always have a person at the front talking, who gets more out of it as they had to prepare it. They wanted everyone to get more out of it. It was always Friday lunchtime and then it was the weekend all was forgotten.

Instead: less topdown and fragmentary and more personalised.

PDGs

Pathways – broad areas of interest for groups to work on (some their ideas, some from the teachers – areas that would benefit the school or teachers were looking for more support or to refresh their practice) e.g.

Running the sessions: a balance between freedom to take ownership and support/structure to make it more beneficial.

6-8 teachers pr group, given a framework (the action research cycle) but left to the group to decide how to do this. Everyone gets involved.

Action research – qualitative and descriptive, observing what’s going on in the class, reflecting on that, implementing some kind of change.

  1. question (not easy, some groups took a few weeks to get going – useful to give prompts to help them get started, possible ideas to explore for each of the pathways.)
  2. Small change (take ideas into the classroom, doesn’t have to be huge, very narrow, very focused – decide what to do)
  3. implement (do what you have decided to do, be transparent about it, tell your learners what you are doing)
  4. observe (questionnaires, observations, interviews, teacher diary – simple things)
  5. reflect (talk about what you’ve done in your group, think about what to do next)
  6. repeat

How did it work? How was it received? (Evaluation)

They started doing this in Sept 2015, now in the 6th cycle, it’s been established, got going, has become a norm. They have done some staff surveys after the first cycle and at the end of last year.

  • 83% of t’s and 96% agreed it was effective
  • space and time to explore something they are interested in
  • take away practice ideas and experiment in teaching practice
  • In the first round a lower number thought it helped them discover new resources but in the last round 100% agreed.
  • High rates also for agreeing about it making a more reflective teacher and improve confidence/skills

Why do they sometimes not work so well?

  • absence or sickness
  • lack of structure
  • some members do not contribute much

Enthusiasm of early adopters can have a positive effect, that is what you hope for  to sway more reluctant ones.

At the end of the cycle, they do feedback presentations. So you (manager) finds out what has happened. Each group really wanted to tell/elaborate/share – each group gets 30 mins. Everybody gets to participate. Also promotes new, stronger work relationships and ongoing conversation about teaching.

Every second Friday at lunchtime, groups meet. But also in lessons, in the classroom, in your planning. It isn’t tidy, it’s a bit messy, needs getting used to. Teachers make two choices from range of pathways and you try and get people in first and second choice. Takes some time to get going and take off.

jround@stgiles.co.uk

 

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IATEFL 2018 “No-one told me that!” Top tips for new trainers – Beth Davies and Nicholas Northall

Last session for the day was with my CELTA tutors from days of yore and it really was like a trip down memory lane as well as giving me plenty food for thought. 

This session is for people who have been trainers for one or two years.

Five main areas:

  • Transitioning from treacher to trainer
  • input sessions
  • spprt with lesson planning
  • obs and feedback
  • dealing wtih trainees

We started with a gap-fill to make us think about what new trainers need to do. (See handout for details.)

Next we ranked possible features of an input session from 1-10

A sample of the possible features given

Depends on the context and who the trainees are – whether CELTA or Delta. All have some importance.

Support with lesson planning

We discussed a list of reflective questions.

A sample of the questions

These questions are things to think about. E.g. look at the plan before the lesson rather than doing both at the same time. `

Board game

Then we played a board game with dice and counters, in which we had to say whether we agreed or disagreed with the statement in the square we landed on and why.

A sample of the statements on the game board

Role plays emphasising people skills

The role plays, our final activity, were very detailed, setting up a situation and giving us instructions. I’ve not got any pictorial evidence, but basically in pairs A was the trainer and B was the trainee (taking it in turns) and we role played discussions in which we had to deal with issues that might crop up during a course (in fact they have been harvested from various courses over the years!)

The goal was to think about what we would do in that situation, basically like looking at case studies. You need to be able to cope with various situations that come up.

It was a great session, very action-packed and thought-provoking.

Here is the handout we were given:

IATEFL 2018 Queering your pedagogy: teachers’ queries out of the closet – Giovanni Licata

Giovanni is head of TT at IH Rome Manzoni.

Task 1: We had to a look at a picture of his hand and discuss what we could tell about him from the photo. (He plays a guitar, is left-handed, is married, likes rings… maybe… we will see…) Task 2: Complete the statement “I have nothing against LGBT people but..” The reason for this slide is that sometimes we talk about queering pedagogy but are teachers really ready for this? The question is “Can I come out?” The answer appears to be “You can! But don’t be ostentatious!” He had a conversation with someone who had nothing against… but doesn’t see why we always have to talk about our partner etc etc. Yet she was doing the same thing… Enter…

Heteronormativity

“Heteronormativity consists of those structures, institutions, relations and actions that promote heterosexuality as natural, self-evident, desirable, privileged and necessary” Cameron and Kulick, 2003. E.g. There are lots of interviews asking straight actors what it’s like to play gay characters but not vice versa i.e. gay actors playing straight roles.

Two main things involved in teaching and LGBTQA+ teaching materials.

  1. Inclusive materials
  2. Teacher attitude

1999 – Thornbury stated that LGBT people are still in the coursebook closet. In 2013 not much had changed. Ten famous coursebooks: no reference to any sexual orientation other than heterosexual. Some books use the problem approach – lists gay families under issues alongside gun control, prostitution, child abuse…can we see the issue with this? There is also the “mentioning approach” e.g. mentioning uses of the word ‘partner’ and the “Inquiry approach” – let’s adopt a multisexual approach and problematise ALL sexualities.

Unpacking heteronormativity

We looked at a coursebook spread about “Getting married” from Headway. Giovanni had to teach this lesson last minute a couple of years ago. He started with “What’s missing? Talk to your partner” – Older people, same sex people etc.

Giovanni isn’t suggesting we ignore the approaches discussed so far, but wants to add “The GPS Approach” – help teachers get started.

He did a study on teachers’ attitudes towards LGBTQ themes in their classes. The findings were as follows:

Respondents welcomed both an inclusion and inquiry approach as long as they receive training and operate in safe environments.

A teacher with a CPE certificate felt they didn’t have the words to talk to a gay flat mate about it in a respectful way.

The cons they came up with:

 

could be dealt with:

  • in CPD training, by having a seminar on it (rather than the 1000th one on teaching vocab)
  • getting schools actively involved
  • getting publishers involved (!)

A simple task

  1. The others: a simple task – learners to go through their coursebooks and have a look at what’s missing. Then they design a course book page to include these “others”.

Here is a list of “the others” that a young class in Giovanni’s school came up with:

They made some excellent materials including people from their list of others. And no juniors or teens were harmed in the making of this lesson…even when queer themes came up. :-p

Why is all this important?

Morgan (2004) “there is no neutral space in schooling, no ways to insulate oneself from the social consequences of one’s activities” (p176)

 

 

IATEFL 2018 Emotional Intelligence: what makes a manager? (Elena Kuznetsova)

An ironic choice perhaps, given tomorrow I will be giving a talk entitled “I don’t want to be a manager…now what?”, but on the other hand this term (which is all of a week old) I have just started being an ADoS which involves ‘managing’ a small group of teachers amongst other things (again, the irony of this, given tomorrow’s talk, is not lost on me!) and I am hoping I might pick up something useful here…

Elena runs a language school in central Russia, she does some teacher training and emotional intelligence training. She works with people (like most of us) and she helps ELT teachers/managers to develop a friendly learning environment to keep both students and teachers happy, as that is key to success in language learning. She has studied a lot about emotions – how to regulate own emotions and manage them in others – and it’s relevant for working with teachers. Emotions are something that humans have and we have to deal with them in order to do our job better.

The talk structure:

  • What is emotion?
  • What is EI?
  • 4 parts of EI
  • How to develop EI
  • Follow up – do you lead with EI?

Emotion

Emotion comes from the latin for movement, something that moves. The reaction in humans to the environment outside or inside our bodies. Being a manager/coach/teacher, we do not always need to be “happy”. It’s not about being happy or fun all the time. There are no positive or negative emotions. It is a complex cocktail of emotions that drive us in work. We need all emotions to live. “Negative” emotions can be life-saving or help us achieve goals too.

EI is the capacity for recognising and appropriately managing our feelings and those of others. 4 domains: recognising our feelings and those of others, managing of our feelings, and those of others. Being an effective manager is not only about task setting etc but also about rapport, trust, the feeling of team, organisational culture, and how the manager does that is all emotional intelligence competences. The same with teaching in the classroom, we need to build rapport with students, interpersonal relationships have a big effect.

4 basic components of EI

= self-awareness, other awareness, self management and managing emotions of others. The good news is, EI can be trained. The bad news is you can’t jump straight into the fourth component!

Self awareness – understanding the ability to be aware of our own emotions. Being able to recognise what we feel and hopefully to understand why. It’s a physical reaction, sometimes you can identify the reaction in your body e.g. anger = tension, loud voice, sweating, red face. If you are nervous, your stomach is tense. If you are scared, your heart will race. The problem with self-awareness is that the only way to train it is self-reflection. <We had to do a little activity and then say how we felt after – there were lots of different reactions> Then, write as many words as you can describing emotions and feelings. Mine: Excited, happy, sad, upset, disappointed, amused, bereft, jumpy, agitated, anxious, stressed, relaxed, chilled, angry, frustrated, worried, delighted. The point is that to self-reflect, we need some words to describe our feelings. The vocabulary. There are 3-4000 words that describe feelings. Why do we need it? Emotions are very different and in order to understand what we really feel and proceed with regulating the feeling, we need a fine-tuned tool to name it. If we only have “good” or “bad”, it won’t help a lot. So we need to develop emotional vocabulary and become able to name our emotions. Meditating, writing/journalling, reading. Set a reminder in your smartphone with a question: What are you feeling? Randomly and during the day, when you get the reminder, stop for a second and identify what and why.

Self-management – the problem is, the emotions we feel lead to (sometimes unpredictable) behaviour. Of course we don’t want to do that in the office (or with our family!) <We looked at some situations and had to write what we usually feel and do. Child spills milk on carpet – annoyed but oh well sh*t happens. Overwhelmed but your boss gives you more work – anxious and ‘how the fk should I do all this?’ Etc. Then we had to write down how we would like to react. So for the first, maybe I want to stay calm and not be annoyed. For the second, again I probably want to stay calm. How to get from 1 to 2?

  1. recognise that you are having an emotional reaction
  2. label the emotion
  3. determine what triggered the emotion
  4. choose what you want to feel and what you want to do
  5. actively shift/downshift your emotional state

Then we had to discuss ideas for no 5. Take a walk/step back, talk about it, write down how you feel. We also discussed tendency to avoid confrontation where possible.

Suggestions from Elena:

  • Shift your mental focus
  • Change your posture
  • Smile (looks silly but works!)
  • Give yourself a hug (or hug someone else!)
  • Dance
  • Breathe (count in 1-2, out 1-2-3-4)
  • Watch your language
  • Rituals (e.g. making a cup of tea) – gives you time and possibility to slow down.

If the level of emotion is very high, cognitive level dips and vice versa, so thinking/focusing on something lets your emotional level go down.

Awareness of others (aka empathy)

How can we get an idea of how other people feel? Ask them! Be a bit careful about this – in some places there is no culture of sharing emotions and they may be taken aback if you ask directly. So you could use indirect questions. Never use “If I were you…” because you aren’t and never will be that person.

Managing emotion of others

The algorithm is quite simple. We need to know our goal in the communication and have an understanding of what emotion is required to achieve that. When we regulate our feelings, people will start to mirror. If someone is shouting and you respond in shouting, then the situation will escalate. If you speak in a calm voice, then you can de-escalate it. There are lots of steps that lead from a calm emotional state to a highly charged emotional state and the same is true in reverse. Calm voice, rituals, hugs, smile etc.

  • recognise and understand your emotion
  • that of a partner
  • define the goal reflecting both of your interests
  • choose what emotional state will help reach the goal
  • bring yourself to this state
  • help partner to feel appropriate emotion

The best way is to avoid things getting emotionally charged. Build trust, listen. If someone is upset, firstly:

  • Let them talk
  • Say verbally what you think s/he feels
  • Stay calm, do not rise your voice, control your gestures
  • identify what you can agree with and say “yes” (there is always something you can!)
  • Agree with facts but do not get into details
  • Accept the importance of the problem
  • Show empathy
  • Show empathy again

Elena also showed us a tool called Do you lead with emotional awareness? Which is from http://www.hbr.org Caveat: be skeptical of these tests, it’s not like testing IQ or language knowledge, it’s more about testing your behaviour in different situations, which is influenced by cultural background, upbringing etc. It’s just to have fun with. This test shows your position and majority position and gives you some recommendations of things to look at.

ekuz@interlingua.edu.ru @1expertedu

Preparing for IATEFL 2018 (paragraph blogging)

I first came across the idea of paragraph blogging because Sandy Millin gave it a go and I read her blog regularly. Given I am using bullet points, this isn’t technically a paragraph BUT it is a much shorter post than I am usually given to writing, so I think that is in keeping with the general concept, one which I may revisit post IATEFL as it is about the only way I will have time to publish anything for the next couple of terms!

Usually my preparations for IATEFL include asking and answering the following questions:

  • What will I see (peruse the programme and highlight far too many things – how many can I squeeze in?)
  • Who will I see? (make plans to catch up with a bunch of people)
  • What/where will I eat? (are there any eateries that are me-friendly i.e. cater for vegans? If not, where is the nearest supermarket? Thank goodness for self-catering.)
  • How will I decompress? (Any nice spaces for walking or running to alleviate the effects people-heavy nature of conferences on an introvert?)
  • How do I get from my accommodation to the conference centre and back again? (study Google Maps and pray)
  • Who is covering my classes at work? (Make sure they have everything they need to do it easily)
  • Have I packed my data cable? (Where did I put it after the last conference???? In a safe place…)

This year, I am adding the following questions:

  • How many essay outlines can I give feedback on via Turnitin while I am at the conference? (There are up to 30 – if all my students submit – being submitted on Sunday and I have two weeks to mark them in. One of those weeks is IATEFL. The other of those weeks is one in which I will need teach all my classes, mark up to 80 listening exam scripts, or two groups worth + double marking, and do all my ADoSing duties as I have been made an ADos for this term and next term.)
  • Can I finish marking all the reading and writing practice exam scripts (x30) on the train on the way down South? If so, will there be time also to look at the conference programme and my talk (which I prepared, thankfully, late last year but need to review)?
  • How best to organise my time at the conference to maximise on good sessions, catch up with people, keep up with marking and decompress as needed (and ideally fit in some eating and sleeping too!)?
  • How much extra admin (e.g. tutorial timetables, speaking exam timetables, meeting notes, checklists, draft emails) can I do this week to save myself a few headaches in Week 3 (a.k.a. the crazy week awaiting me on my return)?

To anybody attending IATEFL this year, or to anybody who has attended IATEFL in the past, what questions do you ask and answer in preparation? 🙂

 

18 things for 2018

The first month of 2018 is already at an end (how did that happen?!) and I’ve yet to publish a single blog post! This is due to a combination of a busy week-day schedule and my no-work-at-weekends policy (something I aim for but don’t always succeed with – I gave a webinar for an EVO course a couple of weekends ago, for example.) Anyway, finally I am getting round to writing a blog post again. “18 things” is, deliberately, rather vague. Things to do? Things to remember? Things I am thinking about? Things I am putting off? Things I am looking forward to? Things I am trying to do? The answer, is a mixture of all the above!

Things to do

  • Write a 7000 word book chapter (so far, the abstract is done and submitted – all of 500 words…!)
  • Mark 48 formative assessment paragraphs (well, strictly speaking this will enter the list on Monday from 9am!)
  • Figure out how best to teach the dependent and independent clauses lesson that is scheduled for my lessons next Thursday/Friday (when I have volunteered to be observed by a CELTA trainee from the ELTC!).
  • Go to that training session about “Learning Conversations” (tutorials) that is scheduled for today.

Things to remember

  • If it’s not raining, stick waterproof trousers in the pannier anyway – it probably will be for the ride home later! NB no rain does not necessarily equal no need for waterproof trousers – the roads may still be wet from the last lot of rain and therefore you will end up being liberally covered in ‘rain from below’ (aka spray) sent up by your wheels or passing car wheels.
  • Studying Polish on Memrise is really quick, I can fit it in. Progress may be slow when doing it in such tiny increments but it is still better than nothing!
  • It’s ok not to do all the things. There are only a fixed number of hours in a day and days in a week (sadly) so the need for first, second and third-level lists of things to do is real. Some things may not make it on to any of the above and that is ok too!

Things I am thinking about

  • How cool is google docs? We have been working on main body paragraphs and cohesion and introductions/conclusions in recent lessons, and having students write them in pairs on a class google doc not only makes it so much easier for me to give feedback/suggestions as they are writing but also enables the students to redraft in successive lessons based on new input.
  • What makes a woman a woman? What is a woman? Seems like whatever definition you come up with excludes people that are also definitely women! On a related point, is being a woman but bucking stereotypes/gender roles etc similar to being ‘non-binary’ or ‘gender-queer’ or not? If not, what is the difference? (I am doing the online dating thing at the moment and have encountered a fair number of people who identify as gender queer, non-binary or androgynous, which is what has sparked this question!)
  • It’s already half way through week 4 of term – how did that happen? I have three lovely groups of students (now 16 to a class but initially were 20 to a class). Am I ready for tomorrow’s lessons? (yes) Have I sorted out all the admin-y things I need to have done at this point? (I think so…) I need to bring more teabags into work soon. Where is that training session happening again? (Errr) …Aka general teacher-y thoughts, I won’t bore you with any more!

Things I am putting off

  • Making a dental appointment. I really ought to go to the dentist for a check-up. Finding time for the initial appointment and the inevitable follow-up fix everything appointments hasn’t happened yet. This may have been on my list of things to do since about last summer…
  • Making a decision about the mountain marathon I entered last year, that will take place in July this year. This term my schedule in combination with winter doesn’t lend itself very well to running training, so my longest run for a while has been 12k. Realistically I won’t be able to run a marathon in July. But you never know…next term and the one after might be different…and the days will be lighter longer so there will be more scope for training…

Things I am looking forward to

  • I always look forward with great enthusiasm to my next meal or even snack. I suppose that is a consequence of all the exercise I do! In relation to this, also to any cooking (always in batches cos time!) and baking (see “snacks” above) I do.
  • IATEFL!! I am going this year, unlike last year. The accommodation is booked and everything.
  • Trips to Sicily to see my horse babies. Star was born 9 and half months or so ago (mid-April, apologies if my maths is incorrect!), I will be going to see him and mother Alba in late March, when he will be nearly a yearling! Also hoping to go in June and September. Haven’t been since last September. A long autumn term and that pesky thing called Christmas cause the imbalance in numbers of trips able to be made!

Things I am trying to do

  • Keep a healthy work-life balance (the “no-work-on-weekends” rule is part of this! Additionally, as my schedule involves early morning work and late afternoon work, for the most part, I am aiming to do some form of exercise on all the days in question – either swimming or bouldering, as these are most accessible from my workplace – in order to get me out of work and off my behind briefly each day in the long hours between the cycle commutes.)
  • Keep studying Polish. I have given up on all my other languages for now. (Except Italian which I keep up out of habit, ditto French) There isn’t enough time for everything. Hopefully in future I will get back to them again.
  • Get back into climbing…I used to be a keen climber until about 2010 when I went abroad to teach. Since then I have done the tiniest smattering. I’d like to get back into doing it outdoors on rock. My indoor bouldering this term is hopefully a precursor…

So, I think that’s 18 things (I counted twice but I don’t trust my maths at the best of times…) that give a snapshot of where I’m at the moment. I will endeavour to squeeze in more blogging in the coming months – at least there’s sure to be a good handful in April! 😉 I’ve just noticed the “Things I am trying to do” section is all non-work related. I’m trying to do lots of work-related and CPD-related things too though.

If anybody fancies writing their own list of 18 things, like this one, and finds the time to do so, I’d like to see your snapshots too so share a link with me in the comments here! 🙂

Belated happy new year to all of you!

Mental Health in ELT – the discussion continues…

A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about mental health in ELT, sharing links to various newspaper articles that point to an increase in mental health problems within education in general, among both teachers and students, and sharing my own experience of poor mental health in the workplace. I am pleased to now share with you all the good news that the topic of mental health, which we can all agree is a very important one, will be the focus of at least one session at IATEFL.

Phil Longwell will be doing a talk about mental health, part of which will draw on the results of a survey that he has published in order to collect qualitative data relating to this subject. It would be great if as many people as possible complete the survey, as this would provide an interesting insight into the state of mental health of teachers in various ELT contexts. I encourage you all to complete the survey and look forward to hearing about the insights gained when I attend Phil’s talk next year.