Sunday, March 22, 2015

TESOL Greece Convention 2015 - Impressions

Or another title would be: How I got to love Krashen...

I am going to start from this!! Everybody was talking about Dr. Krashen's coming and how important he is and what they learned from his books at the university and I really could not understand why...
I mean whenever I tried to read something from Dr. Krashen, I could not understand a thing.... I felt like an imbecile - I said no way am I going to stay for an hour to pretend to understand...
I went....
To my surprise he is nothing like I expected him to be...
A really intelligent man with good sense of humor! He greeted us with the Balkan salutation. Being a Treky myself, I thought this was a good start...
And then he started talking about the reasons why we learn a language and that the students never cared about grammar.... And I said to myself... hey I am thinking just like that.
"No one is learning the language; they are all interested in the topic"
He said how important TPRS in learning is... he actually called it the future!
Since my presentation is based on TPR (S) I was ecstatic!!!

And then on the interactive plenary with Dr. Krashen and  Burcu Akyol, and Dr. Crystal , Agnes Mariakaki and Luke Meddings, they all mentioned how important motivation is and why students should read what they like and not do tests and exercises from "the book".
Dr Krashen also mentioned a case example that a teacher in the States had the students talk about themselves as an ice breaker game instead of actually using "the book" - which was exactly what I had been doing last week in my class...
And I thought... ok he's one of us people!!!
The convention of course was not all about dr. Krashen! I have been to a lot of interesting talks.
Like "how to make your students happy" by Nick Micheloudakis. (who is an incredible speaker btw)
He told us about the 3 ways of life, gave us lots of examples and we also played games, talking to each other about our happy moments!
Something that we could use in our class. He had us write 3 positive things about someone else in the room! To my surprise, three wonderful ladies had written about me as well (and yes Nick was right! It felt really good!!

Talking about love in the air, of course I could not have missed the presentation of one of my favourite people in Athens, Mr. Theodore Lalos.
As always Theodore impressed us with his skills and talents talking about literacy and young children. He had designed (all by himself) original and innovative games to get his students' attention. I think that Theo has a lot more to give (since I had the luck of a private mini presentation with more of his work!!)

Being at the convention with so many familiar people was a real experience. One of those very special people is Ms Sylvia Guinan.
A really resourceful presentation with a lot to offer! I just admire Sylvia so much. Not only because she is a wonderful teacher. She is the most courageous person I know!! She has strength and she is not afraid to move on! Sylvia rocks!!!
Last but not least was Luke Meddings plenary talk this morning.
I will just quote: "If we don't have freedom to teach, it becomes useless"

It was a great convention and a wonderful experience.

Monday, March 16, 2015

My champion - (Outside influences)

When I saw this #30 goal's subject, I already knew who I was going to write about. Then I saw the iTDi Outside Influence Issue and I HAD to write this:
And I am going to talk about one of the most important people in my life, my best friend, Kostas Michalakis and how he influenced my life.
I met Kostas a very long time ago, while I was still at University studying German literature. We spent time together, but we were not exactly friends. All I knew was that he was not supposed to get tired... But he was really really active doing EVERYTHING you could imagine, especially during the school elections! He was everywhere!!!
Years passed and we lost touch, we found each other again through Facebook about 5-6 years ago and have not been apart ever since.
Kostas as I said before, is a very active person. He teaches ancient Greek and history at a high school in central Greece. He is always in charge of the school celebrations, plays, excursions, projects, library,  always there to support the kids.
An amateur actor himself, he is always involved in a play giving performances in the city he lives.
A researcher and a writer, having published two books already, you can find more info here.

Someone might think, why I do mention his accomplishments? A lot of people do all this stuff.
Well, my friend Kostas is a really special because he does all this and a lot more, although he is suffering from multiple sclerosis from the age of 17.
Although sometimes it is difficult to function and some days are harder than the others, he is always there.
His work at the Greek Multiple Sclerosis Society is unique and he keeps trying to help people in need by supporting them as much as he can.

When I see what hard work is coming from this person, I realize that there are a lot more important things in life.
As a friend he's been by me every single day to support me in everything I do.
His work, simplicity and actions set an example for all of us. He is the person who makes me understand so many things about my life both professionally and personally. Sometimes I wonder what I would do without him.
I really admire his work and his personality and I am really proud to have him by me, he makes me a better person.

Here is a mini interview with him:

How has Ms influenced your life?

I have multiple sclerosis since 1991. I am 41, so I feel “married” with MS. I lived all my adult life with MS. The first years were the more difficult. At 90’s there was no medicine for MS and it was quite rare to meet someone else with the same problem. There were many, in fact, but it was not easy to speak for it in public.
So, nobody knew what would happen the next day. It was very possible to have a serious problem, maybe find myself in a wheelchair, or have vision, bladder or any other problem that MS brings. Not to mention the fears and tears of my parents.
Every day, every year, I felt sure for my health. Of course, I had relapses, hospital, cortisone etc, but no permanent problem. I had almost a natural life, despite all these, personal life, master in Balkan history, and I teach in a middle school for 12 years now. I really feel lucky and that’s why I took the decision to involve with Greek MS Society.

What exactly is the MS Society and what you you do?
I am member of Greek MS Society since 1993, and member of its board since 1996. These days I am vice president of the society and member of EMSP’s (European MS Platform) ex-com.
What do we do? Many things, but in four different wings:
1.     Congresses, meetings, educational programs for MS. Doctors, therapists, other specialists, patients and their relatives can attend in these meetings.
2.     Helping the fight against MS, with registries, research programs and giving doctors and other specialists any data or other help the need.
3.     Programs for patients, such as: Psychotherapy, Physiotherapy, Aqua aerobic, dance and also art programs or even short trips.
4.     We address to Greek state and EU Parliament, so that they adopt the Quality of life for persons with MS in many ways. Not only medicines or rehabilitation centers, but also access to work, accessibility in public transportation or buildings, equal chances in all prospects of life.
We have achieved many things till now, but there are many things to be done. I think we are only in the beginning…

 How would you describe your job?

Being a teacher is a very important thing, especially when you have to deal with teenagers. OK, it’s the lesson I have to teach, who Socrates was, what verb is, how to write a correct CV, why poetry is important in our life etc, but this is just the half of the job.
The most important part is when you will tell them to be actors and play a scene of an ancient tragedy. They will say no, you will insist, they will do it at first shyly and then they will ask you to do it in every lesson. Or when you persuade them to visit this or other museum, and give attention to what they will see, not for degrees but for their real education. Or when they will walk in the streets of their city and watch the name of the roads (why they have this or other name?) the buildings, the monuments, even the bridges. Or when they will write a poem, they will paint graffiti, they will give a concert…
In generally, motivating my students is more important than just giving them information, or passing them tests…Of course I do this too and I think I am quite strict, but it’s better my students to judge this…

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

#youngerteacherself #dearme

It's been almost a year that I wanted to write a letter to my younger self. Johanna Malefaki has dared me to do it.... but.... I will not exactly do it.
I will express myself, but I will not write the reasons why.
My younger self would not have believed me anyway.
So I guess something like that would appeal more to the 18 year old me!!!

Tagging miss Christina Chorianopoulou ( I am sure that she will actually write something more LOL!)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Goal: Send Them on Learning Missions #EduLS

When I read Shelly's blog on missions, I thought that I have been doing something like that with my students for years now.
I don't call them missions, though, I call them projects.
Well, what do I mean with the word "project"?
Every 2-3 months or so, they do some kind of research. It could be their favourite book, their favourite movie, an article or a story that impressed them, even a cooking recipe.
Then they write something for my blog, or they make a video.

Here is what we did with the "book project" or mission. Students had to talk about their favourite bookor movie or even read a book and say what impressed them the most :

Some students interviewed their math teacher

A lot of recipies:
Angeliki making a sandwich
Christina is making a Russian Cheese cake and  German Spitzgebäck

School trips with pictures:
Giannis trip to Athens
Christina's trip to Berlin 

A story about an urban legend

The students did not use much of technology (blog -video and pictures), but it kept them going, it still does actually.
We could use Pinterest or Instagram in the future or even create our own YouTube channel.
This was a great opportunity to show my students' work!!!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Finding balance (paragraph blogging)

Two weeks have passed since my last post.... And I have been working 12 hours a day ever since....
Including weekends. Some people will say ok, no problem, you are a workaholic anyway so you live for these things. And the truth is ... YES I do live for these things. I do love creating things. I do love learning. I could never be away from my students and my students keep making me proud, so I am glad I did not give up on them.
The other side of the truth is though, that nobody could work so much every single day without a real break. Eventually you will break down at some point. And this is bad... for you, for your employer, for your students, for your family.
Doing what I do right now, I have sacrificed a lot of things, which are important to me.
I stopped going to the gym every day. There are days that I can go and I plan to go and I am thinking about it all day, but when the time comes (like yesterday)  I feel so tired that I just stay home and sleep.
I don't see my kid so much... and I miss him and he misses me as well, although when I am around he prefers to be in his room. I know that he feels secure when I am at home though....
I don't do housework any more, which is really good, by the way!!! I think that this has made the family realize that they too have to do something around at home, appreciating what I have been doing for them all these years.
One thing I have noticed, though... I am really calm. It is the first time in years that I feel this way.
I know that I have a lot to do to find balance in my life again, but I am working on it.
I will keep planning and I will keep dreaming....
To be continued....

Sunday, February 15, 2015

#30goals Challenge: Support a movement


a. The act or an instance of moving; a change in place or position.
b. A particular manner of moving.
2. A change in the location of troops, ships, or aircraft for tactical or strategic purposes.
a. A series of actions and events taking place over a period of time and working to foster a principle or policy: a movement toward world peace.
b. An organized effort by supporters of a common goal: a leader of the labor movement.
4. A tendency or trend: a movement toward larger kitchens.
5. A change in the market price of a security or commodity.
a. An evacuation of the bowels.
b. The matter so evacuated.
7. The suggestion or illusion of motion in a painting, sculpture, or design.
8. The progression of events in the development of a literary plot.
9. The rhythmical or metrical structure of a poetic composition.
10. Music A self-contained section of an extended composition.
11. Linguistics In generative grammar, a transformation in which a constituent in one part of a syntactic structure is copied or displaced into a different location, creating a new structure.
12. A mechanism, such as the works of a watch, that produces or transmits motion.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Cycle 6 of the #30Goals Movement has finally started and our first title is "Support a movement" .
To be honest, I don't only support one movement. For me the word "movement", as I understand it, is to be part of a group. Do work with other people towards a Goal.

  • The first Team that I support with all my heart is of course the #30Goals. Shelly has given me an hundreds of educators the inspiration to go further, to think deeper, to self-critique, to communicate, to experiment, to recognize our successes and failures, to reflect do something more than traditional teaching.  A chance for new projects. A chance to get better as educators and as people.

  • iTDi is the next big family I belong to. Through the countless blog posts, courses, seminars and constant support, I have learned to evolve, to try out new things. And I know that there will always be someone to listen to me and help me with any problems I face or just be happy for me.

  • Wiziq is not just a platform you can use for online lessons. Behind this there are some wonderful people you can count on. People who can share their knowledge whenever you need it. Webinars that can keep you going and offer you knowledge and support and also a wonderful blog with a lot of information on anything.
  • TESOL Macedonia Thrace and TESOL Greece. Conventions, seminars,  spending time with friends and people with the same interests. Learning and having a great time at the same time. Connect.

  • My Gym. I know that some people will think that this is not exactly a movement. Well, it is. Throughout these past years, I have learned that taking care of your body is equally important as taking care of your mind. Working in a team makes you feel important, again communicate, share your goals and worries, test yourself, find your limits, unwind. For me this too is a way of personal development.
Supporting a movement for me, has to do with CONNECTION, COMMUNICATION and COMMITMENT.

Believe in yourself (paragraph blogging)

I saw this new blogging trend on Anna's, Kate's and Sandy's blog and I thought I should give it a try.
First of all I never write long posts and secondly I never have time to write so much anymore. So this is a good way of expressing my feelings and my thoughts without actually worrying if the post is long enough.
Well, my work life is changing from tomorrow. After 7 years of freelance, I am beginning a new chapter working for an educational company.  Although what I am going to be doing is not that strange to me, it is different from just teaching and I do have my doubts if I am going to make it.
Of course the people who are hiring me must have seen something in me and they probably think I could complete the tasks they have in mind, but I have to say that I am a little hesitant for my new beginning. Hesitant but also excited at the same time.
What is annoying though, is that people in my surroundings are very skeptical on what I have decided, they raise a lot of doubts on how I am going to make it go, working at the office, then rush off to my private classes, to the gym and also complete my "household chores".
And to be honest I don't really know how I am going to make it, either. But I think I will, one step at a time. And sometimes you need people around you to just be there for you and support your decisions and not make you feel bad that you have to sacrifice other things.
Maybe I am overconfident about myself, I don't know, but loving your job and not feeling guilty to spend time creating stuff is not actually a crime. I guess that most people in the blog-o-shpere are doing exactly the same thing. And "Work-o-holic" is not actually a bad word is it?