Tuesday, August 13, 2019

#30daysofvisibility Answering questions

Day 14 today and I believe this is the most difficult one. Since my followers on instagram do not interact with me as much as I want to, I have organised a Q&A at a Greek Teachers' Facebook Group that I am active lately. I didn't believe that so many "difficult" questions would be gathered. A lot of soul-searching...
So, let's begin!
  1. If you weren't a teacher, what other profession would you choose?  Since I remember myself, I have always wanted to teach something (that's another story in another question), but I have worked in other professions as well, when I was young I helped out at a mini-market at a village near the sea, I have helped out at a hotel reception and a tourist shop, I have worked at a gym as a spinning instructor, I have delivered yoga sessions at a resort, I have worked as a secretary, I have developed material for an online-teaching platform and also for publishers, I have trained teachers, I have been translating texts.... so I guess you can tell that I have done a lot of "searching".  So, I can tell you that if I weren't a teacher, I would be a trainer, or a gym owner. I think this is what I would enjoy more. Movement, people, interaction.
  2. How is it that you love animals so much? I believe that all human beings are born to love other beings. If you continue to care though, depends on where you grow up and who you grow up with. In some places people do not respect animals and this is something that makes me sad. When I was young, I had a canary. I had taught him to come real close and get his food from my hand. I also used to have a goldfish. I wanted a dog but my mum was hysterical with animals and whenever I touched a dog or a cat, she "threw" me in the bathtub and made me bathe with disinfectant ( I believe that's how I got all these allergies). I remember, my cousin used to let me secretly pet her uncle's dog ( a cocker spaniel named Zorba) - I was so proud! I was ecstatic when we found Petris. I didn't like cats so much, but then Giouvarlakos and Rozomytoulis found me in the street one day and we "fell in love". Whoever follows me on instagram will understand. 
  3. What was the turning point that made you choose the teaching profession? What did you want to become when you were young? I have always liked showing other kids how things work.  I am a highly kinaesthetic person, so whenever someone didn't know how to use stuff (calculators, telephones, icecream vending mashines you name it), I showed them how it's done (real demonstration). I have also gathered my Barbies and played school. At school my favourite subjects were English, German, Maths and I also used to play music (keyboards). So I have always said that I would either teach something or be a musician. 
  4. What's your ultimate goal in my profession? That's a tough one. Honestly I don't know. When I was younger, when I graduated from college, I have always wanted to have my own language school, but if you ask me now, I will tell you that it's not my dream anymore. I would like to continue my studies, though, something that has to do with Psychology or Physical Education or maybe both. This is not the ultimate goal, but I don't believe that one exists. We humans always set higher goals as time goes by (and when we fulfill the ones we had set)
  5. How much does your work affect your personal life? That's easy. A LOT. In fact I don't believe that I have a personal life. Since I have to be a co-provider at my home, I cannot choose how many hours I will work. I wil work as many hours as I can in order to be able to pay the bills. If you consider that all this teaching needs preparation as well ( I am not the kind of teacher who takes  the book and teaches, I always do research, I prepare extra actvities and projects and try not to be coursebook-dependent so much), so preparation takes time. Time is limited, since I have to take care of a kid, a household and a dog (and a couple of cats), so I guess something has to be sacrificed. To tell the truth, I see friends very rarely and I can't remember when was the last time I took a vacation. 
  6. How could you combine motherhood with work? Well, I have always believed that the highest goal of a woman is definitely not to be a mum. I believe that parenthood is a state and not an occupation. Yes I have missed a lot of evenings with my son when he was growing up. But I truly believe this made him very independent. He learned to stay home by himself, prepare something to eat by himself, tidy his room etc from a young age. And now that he is almost an adult, he is ready to go "out there" without my help.
  7. What is your strongest point at your work? I think that I can adapt easily to every situation. I always carry extra activities for everybody, just in case and even if I don't have the right material (for example ESP),  I can easily find something relevant in no time. I strongly believe that we should be versatile and not always depend on books. 
  8. Have you ever been disappointed working as a teacher? Many times. The fact that I am a freelance teacher doesn't give me much security. Sometimes I have lots of work and sometimes I don't. And this is hard because I as I mentioned, the money I earn is not my "lady's pocket money" (for clothes and cosmetics), but it goes right to the household expenses. Another thing that disapoints me is that some clients do not understand the work we do in order to meet their children's needs and want the best result with the lowest pay. Here is a list with things that make me angry on a previous post!
  9. Why have you started blogging? I have always been writing and sharing stuff with people. When I was young I had penpals sharing my life and when the internet came, I started exploring. I found resources for teaching and I have also met a lot of people with the same interests. So one day I discovered a blog of a teacher, who does not blog about teaching anymore, back then he did. So I started commenting and interacting with him and it turned out that we were in the same city! So one day I come home from work and I find him drinking coffee with my husband!!! Anyway I believe that I really got influenced by Craig and started writing my own blog, personal stuff at first, more teaching stuff afterwards. I keep two blogs at the moment (a Greek personal one and this one) and I also guest blog for other pages as well. 
So that was it and it was more difficult I thought it would be. 

Click to see:

Saturday, August 10, 2019

#30daysofvisibility: What makes you angry?

Day 11 today and my task is to write what makes me angry...
Since this is my teaching blog,  will just try to list some of the things that make me angry, but I have to say that I always try not to keep cool.
  • When potential clients / employers underestimate your studies and experience and try to pay less, although they do spend money on hairdressers, cosmeticis etc. but not on education.
  • When some people owe you money telling you they have financial difficulties but their social media is full of pictures from luxurious holidays.
  • When students cancel lessons for no serious reason on the same day and bring my schedule upside down (and deny to pay for the canceled hour).
  • When potential students are not cooperative and flexible and demand only certain days and hours, although they begin in the middle of the school year, when I have only few slots for lessons.
  • When parents do their children's homework.
  • When parents don't care about their children's behavior.
  • When adult students find 100 excuses not to do their homework.
  • When people think that they can master a language in 3 months.
  • When all they care is passing exams and not learning.
  • When you tell them that they are going to need more lessons and they believe that you want to rip them off.
  • When parents insist that their kid is the most intelligent one and that he/she can cover two school years in one and take a proficiency language exam at the age of 11 (or whatever age which is very young)
  • When parents or students themselves show you the material they want you to use (with the exception of ESP - then you have to see terminology and what they actually want to achieve with the lessons)
  • When they tell you that you have long vacation (I have to say that when I don't work I don't get paid, this means that my job has no paid vacation, no benefits or bonuses, so when I have a vacation this does not necesarily mean that I am lying at a pool drinking coktails)
  • When colleagues look down on you beacuse you don't actually work at a school.
  • When colleagues are too competitive and don't help eachother.
Well I am sure there are more, but I will stop "complaining" (although this post was exactly about that!

You can see Day 10 over here! And Day 9 over here!

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

#30daysofvisibility: A day in the life of...

Watching EFLtalks (a moment of my life in front of my laptop!)

Day 8 of the challenge today and his time I can't just re-post an old blog or just take a picture for Instagram. This time I have to write.
I have described my typical day in previous blogs and today as I was going through them, I realised that every year has been different. Every season has been different and I guess that's the life of a freelancer.
Here is a post of my typical summer day a couple of years ago. 
As Josette (the creator of this challenge) writes, this prompt is to give people a behind-the-scenes view of what a day in your life at home or at work is like.... A chance to share the reality of what goes on.

Well as I said, summer is definitely different from winter. There are summers when I don't work for 3 months and other summers when I have a full time job.
This summer is the first case. I just have one skype student 2 times a week. Other than that, I am "vacaying".
When you don't work it is not actually a vacation. I try to catch up with everything that goes on in my family, take care of my dog and my cats, go to the gym, design exercise plans for my friends (at the gym),  read, watch webinars, take part in blog challenges, get inspired for the next school year.
Here is a post with some resourses on teacher development (and what I had planned do during the summer) and another one on what I have managed so far.

What's going on though when I am not on oblgatory summer vacation?
As I said every year is different. The school year that passed was a really challenging one.
I had a variety of students of different levels and subjects:

  • a German beginners' class of computer specialists
  • an EFL junior class with 8 year olds
  • a DaF junior class with 6-7 year olds
  • Skype students (abroad) learning German or business English / or conversational language
  • IELTS students
  • Young Adults taking (C1/C2)  German / English exams
  • Teen students taking (B1/B2) German / English exams
  • Business English - helping managers with business presentations and communication skills
  • Helping foreign people in Greece learning Greek

What does this all mean? First of all, my teaching life was far from boring and secondly that all I did was research, planning, reading and preparing, even when I didn't have to teach.
Most preparation happens on Sundays.
Mondays to Saturdays are like this:

  • Wake up at 6pm
  • Walk the dog
  • Cook / do housework
  • Take care of my "adopted strays" (this will be another blogpost, I am sure)
  • Go to my morning classes (usually the adults) 
  • Have lunch with my son, catch up / wash dishes/ take dog out again 
  • Go to my afternoon classes / students
  • Depending on the day, do skype lessons or go to the gym
  • Walk dog / watch Netflix /fall asleep on the laptop keyboard
Tiring? Yes! No personal life? Yes!
Will next school year be the same? Probably yes, but who knows?

Life is a challenge!

PS. You can see Day 7 post over here!
                           Day 6
                           Day 5

Saturday, August 3, 2019

#30daysofvisiblity Challenge

I have been taking part in this wonderful challenge (Yes, I love challenges, especially in the summer. They give me a sense of purpose)

Aim of this challenge is to show yourself out there on the social media and maybe find your purpose?
Since I have a lot of interests and qualifications, sometimes I don't really know if I should focus on just one or continue to do everything as I use to.
So what exactly am I professionally?
  • A teacher. Teaching languages has always been my main occupation. In class, as a private tutor or online. I keep informing myself about new methodologies,  about tech, and I try to be as updated as possible.
  • A blogger. Writing about what's happening in my life professionally and personaly is something I enjoy. And if someone can get a new idea from my blog or has the same problems, questions, project ideas, this is a wonderful way to communicate. 
  • A content developer. I have done this professionally working at a company, but as a teacher I keep creating my own matarials and this is something I really enjoy as long as I have the time to do it. 
  • A speaker. Taking part in conventions and seminars/webinars is another way of sharing my work and ideas. You can find most of my presentations on this blog.
  • A trainer. Training teachers is something I used to do and I really love helping new teachers.
  • A spinning instructor. Yes I've got a certificate for this as well. Movement is half of my life. I have stopped doing that some years ago (young age is something very important if you want to work in that field), but I still train and who knows, when I get into shape again, I could do something about that. 
Life is not only work of course and I do have other roles in my life. This post (for day 4) was purely an intro about me as a professional though!
Looking forward for the next day of the challenge!

PS.You can find the previous posts of this challenge over here:
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Moving forward

#8weeks of summer is a wonderful blogging challenge which I discovered last year and I was looking forward to this year.
Mostly, because it gives me  a sense of purpose during the summer, when I have so much free time in my hands, sometimes it's unbearable.
What I am going to keep from this is the fact that I have seen so many wonderful new (and old ) blogs ot there, people who share their work and their aspirations and this is what blogging is all about.
Since some of the posts were planning what to do for next year, I will hope to keep in mind some of the projects I wanted to do (it also depends on what kind of studentsI will have next year) and make the best of it.
I will continue writing of course, maybe not every week, but when I have something to share.
And I know that I will always have "material" to read.
It was a wonderful challenge.
Take care everybody!

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Summer learning?

This post is week 7 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge for educators.
My summer learning journey .... well, I have been meaning to do more. But a lot of factors played their role and I have only finished only one or two of the things I wanted to do.
Two main factors contributed to my delay of the learning journey:
1. The weather conditions, in Greece there was 40 degrees C, and the heat is unbearable
2. Summer lessons

So what have I done so far?

  • I have finished a book called Ikigai, which is about finding your purpose. You woild think that this has nothing to do with my teacher training learning but it actually does. This book contains tips for a long life, reduction of stress, eating better, exercising better and it definitely helps a person of our profession deal with stress and setting goals in our lives.
  • I have completed a Future learn course about understanding Diversity and Inclusion. Again this has not exactly to do with teaching, but it does help us include different kinds of people in our classes and in our lives. It motivates us to get to know more about diversity and als realise how open-minded we are.
  • I am in the middle of the Teaching English: How to Plan a Great Lesson from Future Future learn in cooperation with the British council, which is very interesting for an EFL/ESL teacher.
  • I watched a couple of IATEFL webinars: 

Follow up to 2019 IATEFL Conference plenary panel discussion with Amol Padwad, Evan Frendo, Katherine Bilsborough and Mercedes Viola - 'Future directions in ELT: where are we headed?' (June 2019)
Hom Raj Khadka - 'Teaching and learning through social networks' (June 2019)

  • German Language Teaching webinar from Der Die Daf Portal: Grammatik lernen (learn grammar where we were taught different activities and games when we teach grammar) and one about the new B2 exam (which will first take place in September)
I know it wasn't much, but I have one more month left. I will try to combine summer classes with my own learning and a bit of realxation as well. How about you?

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

How are you planning to implement change next school year?

This post is week 6 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge for educators.

Last year I wanted to change my teaching environment and teach more online. This is something I have achieved more or less and although I am freelance I have managed to find online students and I still pursue it. 
This school year I think I want to change subjects.
Don't get me wrong, I love teaching languages and I a still going to do that.
What I want to do though, is go back to my spinning classes at the gym. I know that it is not a school subject, but a gym class, but for me it's lesson planning and teaching. 
I used to love the gym and I lived to create spinning lessons. An maybe also take it a bit further and bring my yoga (and mindfulness - why not) in to my foreign language classes. Try some more movement and meditation wth my students. Combine lots of kinaesthetic activities with language (especially with my younger students).
It's stll all in my head. It depends what kind of students / classes I will have this year and how much time and opportunities I will have at the gym.
It's still July and the new school year starts in September, but one can dream big...

Click here for Podcast with myself and Shelly Terrel about finding your zen in the classroom!