Enjoy the Challenge & Move Ahead – Ayat Tawel
Challenges are tests. Either you pass them and celebrate moving one step ahead or just surrender and stay still in your place. Since I opened my door to the online virtual world of wonders, my professional development as a teacher and my whole life have changed a lot.
The first challenge I faced was how to apply what I had learnt in the TESOL Electronic Village Online session Becoming a webhead – my first ever online course – into the classroom. Having low tech resources at my school – no internet connection or a computer in class- was a big challenge that couldn’t stop me from achieving my goal of putting onto practice what I learnt to make learning a language as communicative and authentic as possible.
I was able to collaborate with my dear friend and colleague Maria Bossa, an EFL teacher from Argentina, who used to be my colleague at the same course . I used my own laptop and USB Internet connection to have my students interview Maria via Skype about Argentina as we had part of our curriculum about South America. I was also interviewed by Maria’s students in a similar context.
Having very positive feedback from our students, we decided to extend the project by starting a Facebook group where students from both countries could communicate, interact and learn from and about each other. Having passed this challenge successfully, I was able to go beyond Skype and Facebook in other projects.
In my second collaborative project, I went a step further as I collaborated with a colleague from Canada – starting a reading project where our students were able to read a book, learn vocabulary, analyze events and answer questions in Edmodo. They were able to work in different small groups and were able to exchange cultural information about their own countries by the end of the project.
Joining online communities doesn’t only allow you to learn new things and collaborate with other colleagues to open your classroom to the world, it also gives you lots of opportunities for professional development. Being offered opportunities to present my projects at online events such as Learning2gether, VRT and RSCON was another challenge which I could pass and even get rewarding constructive feedback. However, it left me thinking how I can pay back to such online communities that shaped and enlightened my journey of professional development. I thought volunteering to help moderate or facilitate some of these online events is the best I can do. However, it actually gave me more than I could give as it opened another world – which is called voluntary though you’re actually paid a lot.
RSCON was one of the big online events in which I had the honor to be a presenter and a moderator. As a moderator, you are offered pre-conference hands-on training on how to manage a room, deal with technical problems, introduce presenters and help participants before, during and after live-sessions . That’s not the only thing you’re offered; joining organizers and other volunteers in a backchannel room is a real joy. We spend days and nights planning who will moderate which session, moving from one room to another, joking around and definitely learning from each other. It is one of the most enjoyable experiences I have had.
The last challenge I want to share with you is one we all come across, which is how to spend the summer holiday, without feeling bored and if we can get some professional development to refresh our experience without spending too much and at our own pace … whenever and however we can and want.
iTDi solved this challenge and offered me all this in one place!! iTDi is an exceptional community committed to providing teachers with all kinds of inspiration and all the professional development they need. Since I joined iTDi, I have been getting regular updates of ways I can enhance my career. To start with, iTDi mentors, associates and educators from all over the world share their experience, new trends and various ELT topics in inspiring blog posts monthly. They can change your classroom into a different and more creative one every month if you apply new ideas shared and it can also keep you learning something new from each and every post.
The blog posts range in topics from research to practical classroom techniques and anything else you might think you need to learn. Another important and main iTDi activity is the teacher development and Advanced Teaching courses.
But back to the summer holiday challenge, I have had the most fruitful summer ever this year. I was able to join the iTDi Advance Course Breaking into Business English. It was perfectly designed to suit teachers with good or little experience in teaching Business English and was offered by Vicki Hollet – an exceptional figure in the field of Business English. I was able to learn with and from other colleagues through live sessions, forum discussions and sharing lots of resources in the course forums on the iTDi site. The course was four weeks long, but you get access to all resources for ever – making it all an ongoing place for sharing and collaboration .
Going beyond business English, iTDI has generously started its first Summer school MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). It’s a course that extends for a month with daily live sessions in almost all ELT topics. You can enroll anytime and attend 30 live sessions offered by presenters from all over the world. The first week was exceptionally inspiring starting with a keynote by Vicky Loras showing how teachers can collaborate together no matter how far in distance they might be, adding their human touch to the educational process. More practical classroom ideas on how to better teach teenagers, the use of art and storytelling in the classroom and rapping your vocabulary lessons with rhythm and rhyme, to examples of successful collaboration projects were other sessions of the week. I couldn’t imagine I would get so much involved in a session about poetry. However, being very creative, Chuck Sandy could get almost all participants to innovate ways to use poetry in the classroom. He was even able to get all participants excitedly collaborate in making up a poem by just sharing the first line and then asking everyone to add a line. Yes, all this and much more is offered in one place: iTDiMOOC and for free.
If you haven’t registered yet, don’t worry. You can watch the recordings at any time and still enjoy wonderful sessions for the coming weeks. Among many wonderful sessions, I am excitedly looking forward to Budi’s session on how to make writing fun and engaging as my students have always found writing a bit boring, and also Vicki’s session on how to make videos, which is a skill that can change many classroom activities into more engaging and motivating ones.
Forgive my enthusiasm, but being a part of the iTDi community has changed my life!
Join Ayat and more than 30 other iTDi presenters for the iTDi Summer School MOOC live through August 17th 2014. Enroll anytime and get lifetime access to all recorded #iTDiMOOC sessions, tasks, quizzes, and discussions. View the complete #iTDiMOOC Session Schedule and enroll today.