The Big Meeting‘Meeting for ALL teachers on Wednesday at 9am’ came the texted warning. ‘With the school director – be on time and no jeans or t-shirts!’ A stark reminder as I sat in my hotel room that a return to work was imminent. Unusual though that the entire school (from kindergarten to high school) would be called instead of our usual primary-only meeting with our principal. As it turned out, more than a perfunctory meeting, it was a presentation as the director set out a vision for the new school year and beyond. She had many positive comments to make about moving forward, increasing learner autonomy, embracing technology rather than avoiding it, learning with our students rather than just teaching them. ‘Yes,’ I thought. ‘This is what I wanted to hear.’ But quickly a couple of reminders of how much action will be needed to back up the words: we were shown an illustration of a boy surrounded by the latest tech devices, eagerly working away on his laptop. ‘Is this what we want to see from our students?’ came the question (following a 5 minute explanation of the benefits of engaging today’s youngsters through technology). ‘NO!!!’ came the chorused reply to which the director said ‘you were supposed to say yes!’. Later, she asked if our goal as teachers was to strive for one perfect method that everyone could use to teach. ‘YES!!!’ came the reply this time. ‘Hmmm,’ the director said. ‘Must be the heat, it’s getting to you.’ Lots of work to be done then in convincing the teaching masses to experiment a little and adjust their attitudes but at least the people in charge are pushing for it.
New ChallengesOnce the meeting was finished, we retired to the English department hoping for news about what year groups we’d be teaching. As expected, I was told that after a few years in the 3rd grade, I’d be moved into the 4th grade ‘conversation’ programme. It will be a big change as rather than having my own classes, I will be sharing a class with the Turkish ‘grammar’ teacher. Despite the conversation tag, I’ll be responsible for developing speaking and writing skills as well as working with some readers and preparing the students for the Cambridge Movers exam. So, even though the message given in the opening meeting was positive, the reality for now remains that I have to work with story books written entirely in present tenses and teach specifically for a standardised test… Still, I’ve also been charged with creating a webspace for the students to access from home and this is where I see possibilities, especially for improving writing with some of the great web-based resources out there.
Furthermore, under my own volition, I’ve started work on a pbworks site aimed at promoting an exchange of ideas, advice and resources amongst my colleagues. I hope we can not only share and collect links to useful websites but also discuss and share our own ideas and perhaps even upload some screencasted tutorials and seminars. I’m selling it to everyone as an alternative to giving up evenings or weekends for in-house training! Join in when you want, from where you want. And there’s more…. my employer TED has opened a couple of new schools recently and I may be sent to visit and give workshops to the teachers there. The Northern Cyprus branch sounds like a good place to start! Seems like I’ll be busy this year then… Oh, and of course, year 2 of the MA will shortly be underway as well!