Saturday, 31 December 2016

The 2017 List


2016 was quite a year (see previous post) and now, inevitably, thoughts turn to the year ahead. Here's a quick list of what I am planning/hoping for in the year ahead:

Career Consolidation

  • After a big move both in career and location terms last time round, I am looking forward to being more settled this year.
  • Now I have learned the ropes at the British Council, I want to exceed expectations in my ICT Coordinator role with a view to moving up the management ladder in the future.
  • I have two big projects to oversee this year - the introduction of an online forum for our adult classes, and training teachers to use iPads. Both big projects with plenty to learn for me and my colleagues.

Courses!

  • No qualifications or assignments this year!
  • I will, however, still do some courses - MOOCs - just to participate and see what I can learn.
  • January will see the start of the Minecraft EVO course
  • ...and I am also currently working through the edx Video Game Design History MOOC.
  • We will see what else of interest comes up - perhaps a course of my own....

Writing

  • I will probably write fewer articles this year - it's useful for my development but time consuming!
  • I have plans to be more active on this blog and on ELT Sandbox - I will not put a number or a frequency on it as that will only be a target to miss but I will make an effort to focus my written work more on my own blogs than the publications of others.
  • E-books? Yeah, I'll write the ones I didn't write last year or the year before! ;)
  • I would like to try my hand at writing a more academic article this year. There are a couple of opportunities coming up and hopefully, I'll get something of a good enough standard submitted in time.

Conferences

  • IATEFL is coming and I'll be there as a first time presenter - yikes!
  • I have also applied to give a talk at the Bahrain ELT Conference. 
  • I need time for all the above projects so that may be it unless an unmissable event/unrefusable invitation comes along.
Whatever the New Year brings, I'll be reflecting on it here and hope you will join me!

Thursday, 22 December 2016

2016... You just made the list!!

2016 deserves its own list


Still 10 days to go as I write but 2016 has been quite a year and one that won't be forgotten in a hurry. Plenty of people have bemoaned the seemingly never ending stream of bad news this year has brought from the deaths of beloved celebrities to shocking acts of violence and major political upheaval. I was myself caught up in the middle of the attempted coup while visiting relatives in Turkey...

But this post is not about all that. It has been a year of big changes for me professionally as well. I started the working year as participating in a team building day on a tropical beach in Gabon (that's where I was when the news about David Bowie broke) and I end it having just configured a set of 20 iPads for use in the classrooms of the British Council Bahrain. There was much to be proud of and much to reflect on... too much to go into in detail so here are a few lists.

Career Changes 

  • I had already decided in January I would leave Gabon at the end of the school year. Personal matters meant I left earlier than that but that proved to be for the best as an opportunity soon came up at the British Council Bahrain.
  • That meant dropping the 'language school' part of my coordinator title and replacing it with 'ICT'. I enjoyed my time in Gabon but the whole marketing and business side of the role was not for me. I am happy now to be in a role where I can build on all that edtech learning from my MA studies. 
  • I do miss the international school aspect of my role in Gabon though. It was tough to balance the two very different roles of EAL teacher by day and language school manager by night but I really enjoyed working with the kids. This was not only for furthering their language development but also being part of the school community and that is a branch of teaching I would like to return to one day. 
  • I also sadly lost my Minecraft after school club when moving on - an addition to the British Council's summer school programme next year perhaps? 
  • It was quite a shock to move from teaching quite high levels kids in an EAL environment to total beginners in an EFL setting, especially as this is the first time my students come from an L1 background with a non-Latin alphabet. I'm getting used to it but it was a good reminder that there is always something new to learn when you are a teacher.
Qualifications
  • The year started with confirmation of a pass in the Trinity Diploma. That was a tough course but it opened the door for my current role at the British Council so it was definitely worth it.
  • I blogged about some of my struggles during the course earlier this year and challenged the relevance of some of the assessment criteria to my international school context. However, now at more traditional ELT confines of the British Council a lot of the focus on things like communicative outcomes and planning self-contained lessons makes a lot more sense. I still think the Dip TESOL and DELTA could benefit from catering to more specialised fields but the learning from that course is serving me well in my current role.
  • During my MA, I found a lot of the research to be a chore but on the Dip, perhaps with some more professional and academic experience behind me, I found it a lot more enjoyable and it is something I would like to continue with in the future.
  • I was going to be one of the last people to take the CELTYL but as I have a Trinity Cert, I was told I would not get a certificate (it is an extension after all) so next year I will take the TYLEC when my centre starts offering it.
  • It was only a couple of short months on from passing the Dip that, thanks to my new employers, I ended up enrolled on the Certificate in Academic Management course and my strong pass was confirmed earlier this week!
  • It was an interesting course on an area that teachers are often expected to just get on with - a more detailed review is to come on the blog.
Training
  • In addition to the qualifications obtained, I also completed training to be an IB examiner for English B - a nice way to utilise my experience from the international school in Gabon.
  • My final piece of training for the year was to become a local tutor on the Distance DELTA. It has been interesting to be on the other side of the process. Interestingly, I have found it very useful for my own CPD - advising another teacher on lesson planning, observing classes and giving feedback has all given me plenty to think about in terms of my own teaching. 
  • Nearly forgot - I also completed in-house recruitment training so if you apply for a job at the British Council Bahrain, you may find me asking the questions!
Writing
Conferences
Quite a year all told! I feel I have grown a lot professionally, not only in terms of qualifications and job status but also in terms of how I teach, how I engage with my learners, and how I work with others. I'll be looking for more of the same (though with fewer late nights planning, writing assignments and preparing training sessions please!) in the new year. :)