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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- This one's a big 'un! I count thirteen different articles published this year either online or in print. Highlights include:
- Learning to play the students’ way – published in ETp, Jan 2016
- Helping Your Students “Escape the Room” – Published in On CALL (TESOL CALL Interest Section Newsletter), Mar 2016
- Pixelated Circles: 30 Years of Digital Game-based Learning – published in C&Ts (IATEFL YLTSIG Newsletter) Special Pearl Jubilee Edition, April 2016
- When technology is the solution: feedback and error correction with web tools – published in Modern English Teacher, April 2016.
- Take a look around – training learners to notice, record and review language - published in Modern English Teacher, Oct 2016.
- In search of something epic… Making game-based learning greater than the sum of its parts - published as part of the 'Blended ELT' series on english.com, Oct 2016.
- Stories of Survival – to be published in Modern English Teacher, Jan 2017 but available now as a free download in the Modern English Teacher Top Ten e-book.
- I have found writing for a wider audience to be a great way to reflect on my lessons and think about how they could be applied to other contexts. This in turn feeds back into my own teaching.
- Next year, more blogging and maybe I'll finally get round to that e-book...
- I gave a webinar for YLTSIG on game-based learning back in January - A language teacher’s guide to DGBL
- I also took part in The Games Symposium at VRT in May.
- I was a speaker at the 5th Bahrain ELT Conference.
- And the one that will dominate the first part of 2017 - I was awarded the Diana Eastment scholarship to present at the next IATEFL! Hope to see you there.