Sunday, August 17, 2014

#30GoalsEDU: Build relationships with them

Pecha Kucha ITDi from Theodora Pap

Working for the ITDi Pecha Kuch I had this particular theme in mind: Relationships with students.
I have had the luck not to work in classes with a large number of students. This means that I get to bond with them more easily, and since we spend a lot of time together, they seem to trust me.
I really love this kind of relationship, because I don't really see myself only as a "teacher".
I mean, yes, I do have a job to actually teach them a language, but I am always there if they have a problem or if they want to share something that made them happy.
I believe in having fun during a lesson. I don't like disciplined kids like soldiers.
Noise is part of the game, especially if it is creative noise.
I believe in movement, in projects, in trips out of the classroom, in being there for them like a parent, like a friend.
I don't like exams. I work towards exams because unfortunately this is the system in Greece. Kids learn a language to take "an exam". This is bothering me...
You should learn to be able to use the language, not in order to pass an exam.
Sometimes parents are not happy with what I am doing. They need the "BOOK". They need the "EXAM". If their kids do not pass the "EXAM" it is always the teacher's fault....
I've had bad relationships with both parents and school owners because of that. 
And I am really sad to see that the kids do not remember the language after a couple of years they have passed the "EXAM" and some parents not talk to me because of the "EXAM" ( no matter if I have managed to get the kids to be interested in the language and actually use it... This is irrelevant)

So over the years, I have had students passing or failing exams, using or not using the language they learned, students that became teachers themselves, students who live abroad....
What I have gained? I have gained new friends and family. I have gained people who remember me as someone being there for them, someone who tried to make them learn something beyond grammar.

I am so happy that some of these kids (who may be adults now) still send me a message to say hi and that I can still see how they are doing in life.

Building relationships with people is what counts in our profession

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Summer adventures: Part 9: Pecha

What can I say??? I am a person who loves challenge!!!
No I don't think I am good at it, but I never say no to something that makes me get our of my comfort zone!!!

Somebody told me this morning: "Why do you always get into situations that makes you feel desperate?"

I wouldn't call it "desperate" myself.... I would call it something to get me on my toes and make me feel alive.
When I was preparing for my first Pecha Kucha for the TESOL Macedonia-Thrace back in March, I told to myself, if I can do that, I can do everything!!!
And it seems that there are a lot of people sharing my views or else we wouldn't  have had this wonderful session going today!!!

Seven wonderful people and myself talked about our "Fly - high" moments in our professional life.
Wonderful presentations that had everything ... poems, passion and lots and lots of pictures!!

I didn't only have the chance to be a speaker in such a wonderful event, but also be behind the scenes helping everybody to change the slides in time.
I can't say I did a good job, I did miss seconds and slides but everyone was really patient with me (sorry guys if I made you nervous)

What I have to say is that I am really impressed! We managed to organize something so big and actually make it work, no matter what country or time zone we were!! Chuck was moderating from Japan, Jase from the States, I was changing slides from Greece and people were presenting from Boston, from Egypt, Tunisia,  Mexico and Belarus and Athens!!!!

And I realize that here in Greece we don't have this feeling of sharing and co-operation.... when I used to work at language schools, everybody was so secretive about their work, they didn't want their colleagues "steal" their work, they didn't even help each other.... (this is a personal complaint from my experiences so I don't know if it applies to everybody in my country - as I get involved in conferences and presentations, I meet more and more people who actually want to share)

Anyway, a big thank you to ITDi and WizIQ and everybody who helped organize this wonderful summer MOOC!
I was honored and glad to be part of this. You people got me out of my SAD this year I owe it to you!
Let's do it again!!!

You can find our Pecha Kucha over here

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Summer adventures: Part 8: Translating

This is not my day job, but from time to time I do occupy myself with translations if it is an interesting subject.
The bad thing is that I get over motivated and I want to finish everything yesterday!!!

I remember when I was working on some glossaries for Cambridge University press, a couple of years ago, I slept only for 2-3 hours to finish this project earlier than the scheduled deadline.
These were coursebooks glossaries from English to German back then.

Now I am working on something much more interesting. I have had the luck to co-operate with a big private fitness instructor school in my hometown and I am translating texts about fitness, exercises, anatomy, psychology, goal setting and I just LOVE them! I keep looking at pictures of anatomy maps and videos on exercises! The thing is, I get so tired, as if I were performing the tasks myself!

Translating is NOT an easy job as people might think. Yes, you work on your own pace, but you have to be concentrated,  be careful when editing and be discrete. That's why it is important not to show your work around, when you are asked to.

Anyway, that's why I am not that much around lately!


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Summer adventures: Part 7 Business Englishing

This summer I have had the luck of taking part in ITDi's Business English course with Vicki Holett, which I found really interesting. I have learned so many things and it helped me overcome my fear... So far I had never taken up students who needed English for their job, for fear not being able to teach them what they need.
In this course we have covered:
  • Key ways in which Business English differs from teaching General English and skills we need
  • Limitations and benefits of different types of lesson teaching, methods and techniques (like CLIL, PBL etc)
  • How to make presentations, overcoming challenges
  • Misunderstandings, communication and BELF ( Business English as Lingua Franca)

 All the online sessions were really interesting and the discussion on the chat - box very stimulating.
I have to say that I don't take part in online discussions that easily, I prefer to sit back and listen and read what the teacher and the participants have to say and try to understand on my own pace.

As a final assessment, we had to make a power-point presentation of a Study Case:

  • Identify our students and their needs
  • Choose the correct methods for our students
  • Design the key elements of the course
It was a wonderful experience! A big thank you to Vicki Holett, Steven Herder, Barbara Sakamoto and everybody at ITDi. Looking forward to the next course

Monday, August 4, 2014

Summer adventures: Part 6: Holidaying

Yes, most people are going on holiday this time of the year.
We decided to do something different and go to the mountains instead of the crowded beaches for a few days!
Although I was a bit hesitant at first, I did not regret it, although it was a 3,5 hour drive to get there!
And we got lost following Google maps!!!
When we got there, the view was breathtaking! the hotel was build in small houses which you could not tell apart from the rest of the village!
We went up on the mountain, visited the wonderful villages over there and swam in the river (ice cold!!! Don't even attempt to do that id you are not used to freezing water!!)

This is from a village called Big Papigo

And this is me attempting to get into the water - freezingggggg
Consider this as a natural river pool!

And the wonderful river.... (Voidomatis)

Another amazing thing that happened is that I got to see Vicky again - Went down to Ioannina!!!

On our way back there were A LOT of tunnels...
I have to say that I really LOVED the mountains, it was definitely worth it .
Till the next holiday!!!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Summer Adventures: Part 5: Reading

Well, I just LOVE detective stories... (and series). everything that has to do with crime solving, mystery and detectives is my thing!!
I have read about "Snow white" sometime before Christmas and I decided to order the book. In German... since this was the original language.
I was supposed to finish it sometime during the Christmas holidays... 535 pages....

The story is really interesting. It is about a murder of two teenage girls, 11 years ago. The murderer was supposed to be their friend, Tobias, who got sentenced for the crime and got released.
When Tobias returns home, another girl disappears...
Is he to blame? Does the village know what happened? Was he the real killer indeed?

Unfortunately I had so much to do during the winter, so I kept on reading the first pages and then kept forgetting about it.
Now that I had some time off (so to say) - and while the rest of the family was at the beach (yes I do hate the beach), I gave my best to read the whole thing and I did!!

Next book on my list is "The witches of Smyrna" in Greek. It is not a detective story but has a lot of mystery into it!! Hopefully in my few days off, I will read most of it!!!!
What have you been reading lately?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Summer Adventures: Part 4: Teaching

Of course I am teaching... Could this ever change?
Well the heat IS unbearable but, yes! I have a student! A student who IS taking exams in September and needs lessons.
You'll say that's good for me... Yes, it is, I have something to do and yes it is some extra money. But let me explain the situation here in Greece.
In Greece there is this exam-certificate-mania. Parents believe that their kids should "finish" learning English at the age of 15-16. What does "finish" mean? It means that by the age of ... let's say 16, the kid has to take and pass a C2 level exam (CEP)in English , when it comes to a second foreign language, they are happy with the B2 level.
The thing is that especially in the second foreign language, all this procedure has to be done  fast, in 2 or 3 years.
I really don't agree with this. When you learn a language, you learn a language to communicate and not to pass the exam.
I do have to work towards a certificate though, or else I would not have work whatsoever.

My student this summer is 15 and has attempted to take the B2 level exam in German with another teacher in 1,5 year!!!!
Although he IS a great student, unfortunately his knowledge of vocabulary and the lack of using everything he has learned in oral and written practice except for  what he does in the exam book has not helped him pass.

 My job is to make him speak and write correctly.
Of course I have to be book oriented but we do some other activities as well.
Why? Because I cannot see my students do what the BOOK says. How on earth would you use the language when you are out speaking with people? This is not in the BOOK!!!!

So what do we do?
  1. I have found a wonderful teenage / young adult series in the Deutsche Welle site. They have amazing series with videos and soap operas and quiz games that are accompanied by interactive exercises and grammar leaflets, plus a booklet with extra activities like:
  • Poster presentations
  • memory games
  • picture description
  • role play
2. I also use for German songs with interactive exercises again and I also have some of my own song plans.
3. Some more speaking games like Taboo (my favourite)

Some parents and school owners do not agree with my methods.  Some even think that I am a bad teacher because their kids did not pass the B2 level exam at the age of 14.
Some people DO like my way though (thank God for this)... so here I am.
To be continued