The ABC of ELT

I left my teachers’ room behind

This week I started my new job with Badajoz English in the city of Badajoz.

Being a brand new school it certainly has been a HUGE change from working for a school that was part of an international network, established for 10 plus years, in a former Eastern European country and with a huge teachers’ room and large group of colleagues.

There are many reasons why I decided to make this change (but that’s a tale for another day) but it has certainly had an impact on my teaching and support system, as I knew it would before I came. Yet in many ways It has been very different from what I expected.

I saw it coming

For a long time I knew that I was going to be working in a situation like this and wasn’t that worried even though many of my support structures would soon be taken away from me. At the same time I also knew that I had broadened my support base over the previous year and expanded my teaching resource and knowledge pool via the/my PLN.

The PLN (read this post from teaching village for more details) is basically your knowledge and resource pool. Think about how a student of a language has a Language pool of the possible language they can encounter. In the past your only source of English might be the coursebook you had at school and your teacher (oh and then the one week of school exchange in the country you were studying about) and that was it. Of course, with the rise of the internet and social media (and the global colonialism of English language culture) the Language available to students is huge and comes from a wide range of sources.

Likewise teaching knowledge now not only comes from the book in the teachers’ room, the other members of staff you meet up with and the occasional conference but online as well. And just like Language for our students this is available 24/7/365.

So I blog and receive feedback on my ideas, my lesson plans, and reflections. I tweet and follow links to all sort of interesting articles about the latest developments In ELT (oh and old ideas that aren’t so popular any more like suggestopedia, the silent way, TPR etc), I attend online conferences when I would not normally be able to get the time off to travel somewhere else, I “hangout” with other teachers on Google+ and I even do courses with organisations that offer teaching courses online.

Perhaps it is no surprise then that my 20 ways to improve as a teacher next year post has so many that were focused online.

In my old school, the teachers’ room was also a bank of material and lessons resources and these are of course available form a variety of different sources online for both free and for a fee (some even let you set what you want to pay) some of which are based on the latest new articles and completely relevant. Of course, some are as dated (or even more) than coursebooks you can find on any teaching self and their quality varies considerably where as at least you know what you can pretty much expect from most coursebooks).

As I said I saw this coming and yet there were some things I didn’t see coming.

Unexpected consequences

I didn’t see how important it would be to have someone who had gone through all this before to advice and guide me of how to make the most of these resources (and which to avoid)

  • Or how great it is to have someone to ask you about how your lessons went and what you are thinking of doing for the next class.
  • Or just how different Very Young Learners can be to Young Learners.
  • Or how I’d still get nerves when starting a new class
  • Or how I would still want a place (that wasn’t “home”) to work at so that the home/work duality might be maintained.
  • Or how much I’d miss having a lazer jet printer instead of an inkjet. (they just seems slower)

For all these things above I am very grateful to my co-teachers here.

There are many things that the On-line world can replace but there is something great about just being around people rather than online. Don’t get me wrong I love online teacher development and I will certainly make the most of online resources this year but Ultimately my first point of call is my fellow teachers.

What ways do you use the internet for your professional development? Have you thanked any of the teachers in your school recently?


About Chris Wilson

I'm an English Language teacher based in Krakow, Poland. I enjoy writing, using technology and playing the Ukulele.

4 Replies

  1. Benvenido a España, Chris.
    I’m a bit too far to drop in for a cuppa for the moment, but I’m sure we’ll meet up sooner or later.

    Re the main thrust of your post, my PLN has been invaluable – both the schools I’ve been working at since coming here are small institutes with few teachers.

    I hope you make sense of the VY learners you have. (And then let me know! That is my main upcoming challenge, too)


    1. Hi Alan,

      Thanks for the message of support, I’d certainly like to visit Santiago at some point.
      Hope to see you around on the blog.


  2. Nice post!

    I suppose there is something to be said for real live humans that have gone through a very similar experience or worked in the same context. This can be easy to forget as we get caught up in the online world.

    Also, if it matters at all I have been teacher for 12+ years and I still get nerves starting a new class. Actually, I kind of enjoy it and often say to myself that if I didn’t feel nervous I should think about finding a new job. Once again, great post.

    Best of luck and take care,

    1. I think you’re right about the nerves Mike and at least it isn’t like a recent story I heard about a teacher who went out to throw up before her first class!

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