I Speak, Therefore… I Teach?

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I have been an English Language Teacher for 20 years. When I started my career, I didn’t think it would take much effort to teach others something I had learnt during my childhood and teenage years. I could even make some “easy” money while I was at it!  “How hard could it be?” I thought to myself.

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Looking at 2020 through Rose-Coloured Glasses

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In spite of all of the negative effects of the COVID-19 crisis, do you think you could find some positive events that you experienced in 2020?   It is difficult to imagine, as we are still in the eye of this storm.  Over the winter break, however, I started a brainstorm sketch about the positive effects that have come during the pandemic in order to reframe my focus for 2021. This is my list below; possibly you might try the same exercise to reset your expectations for your teaching and personal life in 2021. 

Teaching

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#CDNELTCHAT: JOIN THE CHAT ON TUESDAY!

If you’re a Twitter user, join the next #CdnELTchat on Tuesday, December 8 with Tanya Cowie co-moderating a chat on intersectionality.   Below is a recap of the November 10 chat written by #CdnELTchat moderator Jennifer Chow.

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Online Teaching Reflections

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Some of my primary concerns about this current online world of teaching are the creation of community and how to effectively engage learners.

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Teach As If You Are Your Own Student

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A common expression I often heard when I first started teaching was “Teacher, I don’t understand.” I would, of course, ask them which part they didn’t understand, and then give them further explanation. However, I would still see confusion on their faces. It was my turn to be confused. I had done what I was supposed to do, explain, but still they repeated “Teacher, I don’t understand.”

I didn’t find the answer until I had the chance to observe a student teacher. I had my ‘aha’ moment. The teacher was explaining vocabulary and expressions perfectly. However, she had barely considered her students’ levels and their level of understanding for the “perfect” explanations. At that moment, I realized my mistakes: 1) I treated them like their English was at my level; 2) I taught English like I was an ESL teacher.

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From Day One to Year Ten

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When I first started out as a teacher, I was terrified, as I’m sure anyone would be. I had always wanted to be a teacher, but the way I’d imagined the experience wasn’t exactly how it turned out to be. 

I’ve worked in after-school programs teaching English as a Second Language and I’ve been a substitute teacher, but when I got my first college teaching job, it was intimidating to say the least. I was going to teach adults in a more formal environment, and that word, “adults,” had always scared me because although I was a 22-year-old adult at the time, most of my students were older than I was! 

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Adventures in Summer School

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Like many of my colleagues, I was teaching online this summer using Zoom. My adult ESL class (CLB 4) had about 14 regular students. By the end, we had become quite close and it was sad to see them go. Along the way we had a few adventures related to online learning that I’d like to share with you.

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To Video or Not to Video: That Is the Question

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Welcome to the world of Covid-19 and online teaching! Do you like teaching this way? Is it working for you? Are your classes synchronous or asynchronous? At the University of Guelph, we’re using a combination of synchronous and asynchronous EAP classes. This means that every week I meet my class online at a set time while they are located in Guelph, in Korea, in Japan, and in China. These students have never met me or one another face-to-face.  Is it ethical, therefore, for me to require them to turn on their video and show their face to the class?

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PBLA CHECKS AND RECHECKS AND RECORDS HAVE SHADES OF TOTALITARIAN RULE, SAY LEARNERS

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Many teachers who have questioned portfolio-based language assessment (PBLA) have been wrongly described as “resistors” by PBLA administrators (for a discussion, see Desyatova, 2020). The students in my classes are not resistors: They are keen observers who have seen something that has not been raised before about the portfolio.  In one particular class, my students have observed that the “culture of assessment” inherent in PBLA (Desyatova, 2020, p.11) has features reminiscent of their lives under rule by the former Soviet Union, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).        

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