Teachers and Students: Never Stop Learning

Despite a continuously busy life at work, my creative mind feels like it is on vacation.  I have wanted to increase my amount of writing (among others things) in 2013, and so far I haven’t had much luck.  Luckily, with a recent performance review at work, a guest speaker at a PD Day at the English School of Canada, and a TESL Toronto workshop at the University of Toronto, I have graciously accepted some new inspiration into creative thought.

First of all, moving into my 14th month at this school, I am feeling quite confident with my course load and have been grateful to meet and work with very talented teachers as well as smart, curious and courageous students.  With comfort in the workplace, however, one can experience a lack of creativity.  Since my time at ESC, I have noticed that the directors are highly supportive and encouraging of professional development.  The entire staff attended a workshop at our school with excellent speaker, Tania Iveson,  on ways to increase creativity through activities to appeal to different learning styles as well as increase variety in our lessons.  It opened eyes, which had dimmed a bit over the winter months, and reminded me of the standard of enthusiasm that I set myself to using.  I tried some of the tactics, and the tasks were completed with success!

My advice: Never stop growing.

adderall dosage Similarly, I met with my director for the teachers’ annual review and received some great feedback about my work within the school as well as some useful suggestions that never would have ever come to me independently.  I realized that working in an ever-changing environment such as teaching should encourage me to use outside sources (colleagues AND books).

I realize that I had perhaps been trying to reinvent the wheel and throwing unnecessary challenges at myself.  Perhaps creativity is not the same as thinking of a brand new idea and concept every single minute, but instead using ideas that have been born and using your personal spice to give life to it in a new way.

My advice: Never stop evolving. 

Finally, I recently had the pleasure of attending a lecture by professor and writer Dr. Nina Spada (How Languages are Learned) on “Corrective Feedback“.  It was very interesting and I gained an insight of many ideas that are being asked and researched in the field of ESL.  Here are the two highlights of what i took away from this lecture:

1. ESL/EFL teaching has been around for longer than I thought.

I  looked around the lecture hall at U of T sitting next to an ESC colleague and thought “Wow! A lot of these teachers are old!  Was ESL even around back then?”!  (not that I can be called super young these days!) After a warm welcome, Dr. Spada spoke eloquently and quoted from her research and others’ dating back to the 1970s.   Again, I thought, “Isn’t ESL teaching just for young people who flew off to Korea of Japan for a few years and are now back in Canada trying to figure out what to do with the rest of their lives?”

It was a stereotypical yet enlightening thought!  I had always looked down on people who spoke poorly about the career choice of an ESL teacher, and here I was playing to that stereotype when, after falling in love with teaching language, I fought so hard against it.

Back to these aforementioned “oldies”- I eventually realized that these people have been in this field for decades, inside and outside the classroom and in and out of research about how to provide the best experience of English language learners.  People have received undergraduate degrees, Master’s degrees, and doctorate degrees in this amazing field, and it brought me back to my 4-week experience in my CELTA course.  It exhausting and exhilarating to learn new ideas from others and to get the opportunity to use them in action.

 2.  Unanswered questions remain.

Dr. Spada introduced her talk with specific questions about Corrective Feedback that she would discuss, for example,  “Who should correct students? How should we correct them?”.  After going on for over an hour, she took questions from her audience and was inevitably asked “When should teachers correct the students, immediately or afterwards?”  I had been thinking the same thing the whole time!  And her very first answer was that she didn’t have an exact answer because there hasn’t been enough research into the topic.  The question stuck with me for days, as I thought about questions I have about this thriving field.  The more I think, the more I want to take more time to learn about language learning theories and which ones I find effective for my personal classrooms.

My advice: Never stop asking questions. 

Overall, I still love the classroom, and I think I always will.  I hope that a can keep this spark of creativity ignited as I push myself to explore this field more.  And maybe when I’m an “oldie” I can attend (or give!) lecture on what we learned way back in 2013.

Any thoughts?

Photo credit: James F Clay

photo credit: Life Mental Health

One Response to Teachers and Students: Never Stop Learning
  1. seburnt
    February 19, 2013 | 8:39 am

    Thanks for the post – insightful into the views of a “younger” ESL teacher. 😉 Once upon a time, I too believed ESL teaching was something only the young did on vacation while abroad (or to pay off OSAP). Like you, it was attending TESL Toronto events and conferences (though not so recently for me) that I suddenly awoke to the fact that I’d lived in a private language school bubble. People really do make legitimate careers out of this. I’m not sure why I hadn’t ever included Scott Thornbury, Jeremy Harmer, David Crystal or any number of ELT authors above 50. We are a small but also very large community of dedicated educators. Coming to events is only the beginning to learning this. I encourage you and your colleagues to become involved as much as you wish.
     
    Nina’s talk, like so many, reinforces the notion that there is no yes/no answer to questions of teaching practice. There is no right or wrong way. Research, if you go back far enough, contradicts itself and it is up to the individual teacher, along with their community and students, to be inspired by the research, the commentary, the blogs, the events, everything that is out there and try it. We can discuss everything from our experiences and look at research to help validate some of our ideas and that is what enriches our learning community.
     
    Best of luck to you and hope to see you again. Say hi next time. 🙂

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Teachers and Students: Never Stop Learning

Despite a continuously busy life at work, my creative mind feels like it is on vacation.  I have wanted to increase my amount of writing (among others things) in 2013, and so far I haven’t had much luck.  Luckily, with a recent performance review at work, a guest speaker at a PD Day at the English School of Canada, and a TESL Toronto workshop at the University of Toronto, I have graciously accepted some new inspiration into creative thought.

First of all, moving into my 14th month at this school, I am feeling quite confident with my course load and have been grateful to meet and work with very talented teachers as well as smart, curious and courageous students.  With comfort in the workplace, however, one can experience a lack of creativity.  Since my time at ESC, I have noticed that the directors are highly supportive and encouraging of professional development.  The entire staff attended a workshop at our school with excellent speaker, Tania Iveson,  on ways to increase creativity through activities to appeal to different learning styles as well as increase variety in our lessons.  It opened eyes, which had dimmed a bit over the winter months, and reminded me of the standard of enthusiasm that I set myself to using.  I tried some of the tactics, and the tasks were completed with success!

My advice: Never stop growing.

adderall dosage Similarly, I met with my director for the teachers’ annual review and received some great feedback about my work within the school as well as some useful suggestions that never would have ever come to me independently.  I realized that working in an ever-changing environment such as teaching should encourage me to use outside sources (colleagues AND books).

I realize that I had perhaps been trying to reinvent the wheel and throwing unnecessary challenges at myself.  Perhaps creativity is not the same as thinking of a brand new idea and concept every single minute, but instead using ideas that have been born and using your personal spice to give life to it in a new way.

My advice: Never stop evolving. 

Finally, I recently had the pleasure of attending a lecture by professor and writer Dr. Nina Spada (How Languages are Learned) on “Corrective Feedback“.  It was very interesting and I gained an insight of many ideas that are being asked and researched in the field of ESL.  Here are the two highlights of what i took away from this lecture:

1. ESL/EFL teaching has been around for longer than I thought.

I  looked around the lecture hall at U of T sitting next to an ESC colleague and thought “Wow! A lot of these teachers are old!  Was ESL even around back then?”!  (not that I can be called super young these days!) After a warm welcome, Dr. Spada spoke eloquently and quoted from her research and others’ dating back to the 1970s.   Again, I thought, “Isn’t ESL teaching just for young people who flew off to Korea of Japan for a few years and are now back in Canada trying to figure out what to do with the rest of their lives?”

It was a stereotypical yet enlightening thought!  I had always looked down on people who spoke poorly about the career choice of an ESL teacher, and here I was playing to that stereotype when, after falling in love with teaching language, I fought so hard against it.

Back to these aforementioned “oldies”- I eventually realized that these people have been in this field for decades, inside and outside the classroom and in and out of research about how to provide the best experience of English language learners.  People have received undergraduate degrees, Master’s degrees, and doctorate degrees in this amazing field, and it brought me back to my 4-week experience in my CELTA course.  It exhausting and exhilarating to learn new ideas from others and to get the opportunity to use them in action.

 2.  Unanswered questions remain.

Dr. Spada introduced her talk with specific questions about Corrective Feedback that she would discuss, for example,  “Who should correct students? How should we correct them?”.  After going on for over an hour, she took questions from her audience and was inevitably asked “When should teachers correct the students, immediately or afterwards?”  I had been thinking the same thing the whole time!  And her very first answer was that she didn’t have an exact answer because there hasn’t been enough research into the topic.  The question stuck with me for days, as I thought about questions I have about this thriving field.  The more I think, the more I want to take more time to learn about language learning theories and which ones I find effective for my personal classrooms.

My advice: Never stop asking questions. 

Overall, I still love the classroom, and I think I always will.  I hope that a can keep this spark of creativity ignited as I push myself to explore this field more.  And maybe when I’m an “oldie” I can attend (or give!) lecture on what we learned way back in 2013.

Any thoughts?

Photo credit: James F Clay

photo credit: Life Mental Health

One Response to Teachers and Students: Never Stop Learning
  1. seburnt
    February 19, 2013 | 8:39 am

    Thanks for the post – insightful into the views of a “younger” ESL teacher. 😉 Once upon a time, I too believed ESL teaching was something only the young did on vacation while abroad (or to pay off OSAP). Like you, it was attending TESL Toronto events and conferences (though not so recently for me) that I suddenly awoke to the fact that I’d lived in a private language school bubble. People really do make legitimate careers out of this. I’m not sure why I hadn’t ever included Scott Thornbury, Jeremy Harmer, David Crystal or any number of ELT authors above 50. We are a small but also very large community of dedicated educators. Coming to events is only the beginning to learning this. I encourage you and your colleagues to become involved as much as you wish.
     
    Nina’s talk, like so many, reinforces the notion that there is no yes/no answer to questions of teaching practice. There is no right or wrong way. Research, if you go back far enough, contradicts itself and it is up to the individual teacher, along with their community and students, to be inspired by the research, the commentary, the blogs, the events, everything that is out there and try it. We can discuss everything from our experiences and look at research to help validate some of our ideas and that is what enriches our learning community.
     
    Best of luck to you and hope to see you again. Say hi next time. 🙂

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Awards

Kristin’s Backpack won 1st Prize for TESL Ontario’s 2011 ESL Week Blog Contest.
About Me


Welcome to Kristin’s Backpack! I jumped on the blogging bandwagon in 2010 to share my Canadian-theatrical-backpacking perspective on my world adventures. With my return to Canada, I will continue to dig into my pockets and reflect on life as it has come to involve Teaching, Travel, and Theatre. Time to unzip the pockets!
Portfolios
Check out my past and current work here: 

Kristin's Library
Looking for some interesting reading material? Check out my Reading Picks and Bookworm post for some ideas! 

               
This is what summer is all about- finished a book yesterday and am on to the next today.  I just opened The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill, which has been on my shelf for ages.  I have been extremely interested in reading accounts that stem from true stories in a dark history that is often swept to the side.  
At the same time, I have been listening to The Maze Runner series as an audio book and have been extremely captivated by the young characters’ circumstances and their view on the world.  
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