viernes, 21 de agosto de 2015

Where I stand as a teacher and where I hope to be

@mariacolussa, Mint. 2015

As a result of joining the many teachers out there who share their journeys on blogs, I have learned that we have more things in common than  I could have ever imagined.  Hana Ticha's reflections after a casual friends meeting reminded me of several conversations that I took part in where a group of teachers gather over a glass or something or a cup of coffee, or a round of mate, the typical Argentinean drink that inspires and accompanies philosophical exchanges among friends.  Just a few weeks ago I heard a teacher say that he wasn´t interested in the "word of online teaching" because he preferred the "human contact" as if they were mutually excluded or as if only one was allowed at the expense of the other.  I did not give any thought to that remark at all at the moment.  I considered that it was not the time and place to talk about that.  Plus I had not seen this person in any of the online events that proved that his remark was absolutely groundless. In fact I consider it a lack of respect towards so many people that have done so much for online teaching and learning, such as Dr. Nellie Deutch, just check out one of her many recorded sessions: Leading from Within. That´s what I should have said.  However I feel that this person was trying to conceal a lack of interest to invest time and energy to learn something new.  
Apparently we are all concerned about being the best teacher out there.  By 'the best' I mean a constelation of qualities that the mythical foreign language teacher is bestowed with.   We should be proficient in the language, the pedagogy, plus we have to somehow integrate technology.  
My road so far has been like a ride in the quiet waters of a stream.  I started teaching without technology, simply because I did not have access to it.  Then I taught like crazy for over 12 years to finally quit out of failing to find relevance in what I was doing.
Today my reality has changed.   I was helped and taught patiently by strangers for free online as to how to harness the potential of the web to scaffold learning.  I was also encouraged to take risks and pay it forward by sharing what I have learned with my fellow teachers.  On the way I had enjoyed myself with master learners/sharers like Vance StevensShelly Terrell, and the amazing Hello Little World Teachers Skypers team. 
I have been enjoying myself learning and teaching with my colleagues and students.  I am now teaching in contexts that my teacher training college did not prepare such as adult education, teaching to a visually impaired student, in-company teaching, and soon online teaching.  I have also been invited to give workshops on the things I have been doing with my colleagues and students.  Accepting every single one of these challenges was a leap of faith.  One that I wouldn´t have dared to face had I not been connected to the wonderful people out there who share what they are passionate about.  
When I think about learning and growing as a teacher I immediatelly think about the EVO Sessions, the Electronic Village Online, which played such an important role in my motivation to explore digital tools with the help of other teachers.  When it comes to blogging I think about Sue Waters and her drive to spread the word about the benefits of bloggins for children and adults alike.  This is the kind of professional development that has worked for me during the last three years.  I admire those educators who gather together to organize conferences, online or face to face and I attend both with an open mind.   Because there are just too many interesting things to learn, I often feel frustrated about not being able to watch recorded sessions or read my favourite blog posts.  
I try to attend and mingle with my master learner teachers as much as I can, because after these meetings I feel energized and full of drive to go about the wonderful job to teach languages.
What do I want to do next?  Well, I hope to continue hanging out with my network of educators.  I like teaching adults, so I will probably go on doing so.  
I will try to concentrate my energies on doing what makes me happy as an educator.  I found setting your teaching manifesto a very healthy exercise.  It was suggested by Shelly in one of the sessions of her 30 Goals Challenge Conference