If you’re a Twitter user, join the next #CdnELTchat on Tuesday, March 30, when our topic will be: Teaching and Learning Vocabulary. Below is a recap of the March 16 chat written by #CdnELTchat moderator Bonnie Nicholas.
A little over a year ago, on March 11, 2020, our lives were upended when the WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Most schools and learning institutions in Canada closed to in-person learning soon afterwards, and many of us found ourselves teaching online classes for the first time. As we left our workplaces, I suspect few of us thought that we would still be in the midst of the pandemic a year later.
#CdnELTchat has continued throughout the pandemic, though not as usual. During the first weeks of the pandemic, we held chats on emergency remote teaching, as well as weekly check-ins for people to drop by and stay connected. As living in the pandemic and teaching online became our new normal, we returned to chatting on a variety of topics. Now, as we enter the second year of pandemic teaching, we took some time to reflect on what this past year has meant to us and to think about the direction of ELT in the future.
We used Wakelet to collect and archive the evening’s chats, Reflecting on one year of pandemic teaching and learning. You can also find the tweets by searching for the hashtag #CdnELTchat on Twitter. As always, we collected questions in advance of the chat on our Padlet. Throughout the hour of our live chat, Jennifer Chow tweeted the following questions regularly, and participants tweeted their replies.
Q1: Do you recall when the WHO first declared that COVID-19 was a global pandemic? Do you remember what your initial reaction was when you first heard that you would be pivoting to online teaching?
Q2: What is one experience that has impacted you the most during this past year? Q3: How has this year changed your teacher identity and/or teaching practice? How has the pandemic changed the student experience?
Q4: What have you been doing to maintain your learners’ and your own wellness?
Q5: How do you feel about returning to the classroom in September? What are you worried about? What are you looking forward to? How do your students feel about possibly returning to the classroom in September?
We remembered how fast we all had to shift to a new way of teaching. Some people are finding that they enjoy online teaching, while others are waiting for a return to a F2F or blended option. All of us have felt some physical and mental strain from the long hours being “on” and on our devices. We discussed the compassion we feel for our students who were forced into a new way of learning, fraught with uncertainty. Most of us felt the stresses of that uncertainty and fear in our own lives as the pandemic continued unabated, while at the same time we felt gratitude to the support offered by our employers and workplaces. Being offered empathy has meant that we are better able to meet our students with that same compassion. While the online environment has opened up spaces for students (especially those who have young children and no childcare), the shift to online has also highlighted issues of equity and access. These are important issues that cannot be forgotten. Working from home has also blurred the boundaries between the workplace and our home lives. Self-care will also be an ongoing issue.
We didn’t get to our final question, but this needs to be addressed, both at a local and a global level. It also invited a larger discussion, what will be the future of #ELT?
Q6: What guidelines should be in place as we start thinking about returning to the classroom in September?
#CdnELTchats are held about every second week, usually on a Tuesday evening. Please let us know if you have an idea for a topic, a suggestion for a guest moderator, or if you’re interested in moderating a chat on a topic in ELT that you’re passionate about. For the latter, use this form. Reach out to a member of the #CdnELTchat team: Jennifer Chow (@Jennifermchow), Augusta Avram (@ELTAugusta), Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL), or Bonnie Nicholas (@BonnieJNicholas). We hope that growing your #PLN and connecting through social media will lead to more reflective practice for all of us.