Ayat Tawel2018: A Journey of Discovery

by Ayat Tawel

 

It’s this time of the year when some of us believe it’s just another year of our life coming to an end, or maybe think negatively about how time flies and whether we’ve achieved some of our goals or not. Reflecting on 2018, I see it as one of the years I am so happy about. As teachers, when we think of highlights of the year, we start thinking about our professional development or what we have achieved in terms of working with our students or colleagues. But it is more than just that; it is also what we did in our life outside the classroom that might reflect on us as human beings and thus as educators. I believe every year brings us new opportunities to learn more about work, others, and ourselves. In this post I will share with you what I explored in 2018 about teaching, teacher training, and also about myself.

IATEFL 

For me, the first highlight of the year in terms of professional development was going to the IATEFL 2018 conference in Brighton. It was a dream that I never knew could come true. After attending and presenting at both local and international conferences, going to the IATEFL meant more than just attending one of the most important ELT global events. It was an opportunity to meet other educators, learn about new teaching practices in different contexts, and share ideas with educators, authors, and publishers from all around the world. Apart from visiting the UK for the first time (one of my dream destinations, too!), the days spent at the conference were such an amazing, inspiring experience.

It started with the IATEFL LTSIG (Learning Technologies Special Interest Group) day, which was focusing mainly on the use of VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) in education. Some of the ideas presented and were open for discussion among the audience afterwards were about how AR increases engagement and gives learners the opportunity to experience what might not be possible to experience in real life.  “Feeling” the experience through virtual reality can help students to better remember and express what they learn. We also explored how VR is used now in different fields, such as healthcare, space, museums, shopping, military, etc. Though virtual reality can offer students the opportunity to access the best education facilities, attend school wherever they live, be homeschooled, or even go to university without worrying too much about costs, it has its challenges. Some of these challenges include price, tech problems, and even health issues as there have been cases of students reporting nausea.

The best part of that day was when we got the chance to experience virtual reality ourselves and go on virtual tours to different countries through the amazing VR set of Heike Philip (one of the speakers at that event, a renowned Ed Tech trainer who co-initiated some European projects and online events on the use of technology in education). You can see me going on a virtual tour in Paris in the photo.

I won’t talk about all the wonderful sessions that I got to attend and the famous speakers in the world of ELT that I got to meet, listen and talk to during the conference. I have been following or working with many of those speakers and authors online for some years, so it was truly exciting to finally meet them and share my ideas and thoughts face-to-face.

As it’s not always easy to buy ELT resource books in my country and ordering them online takes time and costs a lot, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity given to IATEFL attendees to meet authors and publishers and buy some of the recently published books at a reduced price. The following are three of the important books I bought and recommend for all, especially those who are interested in educational technology or experimenting with different teaching methods:

  • Best practices for blended learning, a very interesting and practical book that is full of ideas for educators who would like to implement blended learning in their teaching;
  • ETPedia technology by the amazing Nicky Hockly. It’s a valuable resource book for teachers that has 500 practical ideas for using technology in the English language classroom. You can also find quotes by educators who used some of these ideas in their classes all around the world – and my testimonial was among those, which definitely added to my excitement of owning that useful resource book;
  • Scott Thornbury’s 30 Language Teaching Methods, a small, pocket-sized book that summarises the most famous teaching methods in an engaging, simple and informative way.

Teacher training

Working closely with both trainee and more experienced teachers was another highlight of 2018 for me. During the summer I worked on designing training materials for trainee teachers and a mentoring program, and it was an eye-opening experience as I learnt how to identify and address teachers’ needs. Team teaching was one aspect of the training that we were trying out for the first time and which proved very useful for both trainees and experienced teachers. Taking this experience further, I worked with experienced teachers following the same approach but focusing more on teacher independence, giving teachers the opportunity to lead their own training programs and choose areas of development according to their needs and teaching priorities. That was another insightful experience as I had to find the balance between being a teacher myself and a trainer and how each experience feeds into the other. All the help and encouragement I got from my mentors this year has also helped me develop more as a trainer and showed me how to be supportive in a way that guarantees others still have the freedom to choose their own path to professional development.

Outside the classroom

Finally, I would like to share with you a personal highlight of 2018 for me. We can get so busy with teaching even outside the classroom, as we think of what we would be teaching the following day, or how to find a solution for that behaviour issue in class, or have to write a lesson plan for an observation. Among all this and while I was thinking I needed a change, I received an interesting email with an invitation to join a detox program. The program was not only about the food we eat, but also about our emotional and mental detox. It’s a program for finding physical and mental harmony in addition to work-life balance. Besides eating green, natural, and unprocessed food in order to get rid of all the toxins we get through our meals, this program took me on a journey of emotional detox. It started with an emotional reset as we got rid of the toxins caused by stress by doing some exercises, setting goals, and practicing self-love talk. I was introduced to new food, recipes, and tastes that I had never tried in my life. I had the opportunity to meet many inspiring ladies who were a great support on that journey, including the amazing coach Shahinaz El Tarouty. I also started setting different goals for my personal life, such as taking up different activities that would help me enjoy life more and gain different experiences. One of the goals I set after that program is learning a new language and I already started taking a Turkish course a couple of months ago. I am really enjoying that feeling of being a student in class, learning a new language and going through everything my students experience when they start learning a language.

I am really proud of everything I did and everyone I met in 2018. Above all, I am grateful to the iTDi family, who not only contribute to our professional development through their courses but also give us a chance to reflect and share our thoughts with other educators on this blog. I wish all educators a wonderful new year full of success, health, and love!

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Ayat Tawel

Ayat Tawel is an EFL teacher from Egypt who has been teaching mostly young learners for 14 years, though she is now teaching adults at the British Council in Cairo, Egypt. Her main interests are online teaching and learning, exploring and using web 2.0 tools in teaching and enhancing creativity in the classroom. For the last three years, she has participated and presented in some online and face-to-face ELT events and conferences. She has been an online moderator in TESOL Electronic Village Online sessions since 2011 and is a proud iTDi Associate. Ayat is a firm believer in the power of sharing and lifelong learning.

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