The personal learning network for educators
Dear ELT colleagues,
I am talking to you, who love your job and do it the best way you can! I am talking to you, who do not blog about it, or share your ideas through social media because you do not happen to know how to, or do not have the time to! I am also talking to you, who may not particularly enjoy what you do for a living and blogging or posting about it would be the last thing on your mind!
Let us all take a moment and think … When other EFL teachers share what they do in class with the world, are they just bragging, showing off “what an awesome teacher” they are, or are they just sharing ideas, in an attempt to connect? Well, the truth is that it is only fair and reasonable that I talk about myself and my view of things, but following numerous ELT blogs all these years and connecting with colleagues all around the world via social media, I believe my thoughts coincide with the majority of the people who post their professional practices in public.
Blogging and/or sharing in social media ideas and approaches related to your job initially contributes to the dissemination of good practices. As teachers, we always try to find ways to develop, introduce innovative activities in our classrooms and become more effective at what we do. Internet seems to be an abundant source of inspiration, just because some colleagues have taken the time to share their experience! Secondly, it allows everyone to share original materials that have been created for specific purposes. These materials, most of the times, can be used freely, can be adapted to serve other learners’ needs or can simply inspire some colleagues to create their own worksheets or ELT games!
Additionally, sharing your professional practices and approaches does not only address to colleagues, but also to learners and parents. Learners, on the one hand, can use a teacher’s or a school blog for extra practice, retrieval of useful materials or even access to differentiated activities and exploitation of interactive tasks that can be posted to serve their needs. Parents, on the other, have the opportunity to get a small idea of all the incredible things teachers have been working on with their children, things that they sometimes accuse us of not applying or introducing in class, mainly because they have never asked their children about them or their children have never shared what they have done or learnt with them! Aside from assisting the learners and informing the parents, blog posts seem to be like school journals, that will always be there to remind everyone of those days, those activities, those events and those lessons. Many learners who have now finished school and their parents, go nostalgically back to these posts that remind them of the past and its quality.
Last, but definitely not least, sharing teaching practices and/or materials allows EFL teachers to connect with other colleagues that are in the same situation with them, other colleagues that live in countries near or far away from theirs, with other beliefs and other ideas on their professional field, with younger teachers full of spirit, or more experienced ones full of wisdom, with learners and parents in their school or other schools … Blog posts or posts on social media are normally followed by phone calls, emails and personal messages among colleagues that focus on sharing feedback on practices, exchanging of ideas, clarifications on steps to be followed or bureaucratical procedures that are required, theoretical support of the suggested/recommended approaches and the list goes on and on … And it is this part that is even more time-consuming than posting, occurs unseen and unnoticed by others, is more demanding professionally and socially and brings the writer’s responsibility and accountability forward for everything s/he posts.
So, thousands of EFL teachers around the world who post articles or videos related to their job, may appear to some people and some colleagues as show-offs, bragging about programs, tasks and innovations, but, in reality, they are far from claiming to be “the best”, or “coolest” teachers! They actually happen to have the time to employ their technological know-how in order to pursue all or some of the afore mentioned benefits! On a more personal note, blogging and connecting through social media is my (and many, many other teachers’) way of actually working. I love my job, like you do. It did not just happen to me, I chose to be an English Language teacher many years ago. I am at work in the morning and I feel I am still at work even when I am at home, with my family and friends – and I am not the only one, you know! There are thousands of EFL and non-EFL teachers out there who are better teachers than me, more creative and innovative than me, do what I have been doing and suggesting in ways more attractive and effective than mine and are definitely more experienced and passionate than I am … and they do not share it with the world … being modest, feeling shy, being afraid to be accused as show-offs! Isn’t that a shame?
So, for this once, allow me to brag! Allow me to brag about sharing, as I am definitely not sharing to brag! And, you know what? This is the case with thousands of other ELT teachers here in Greece and around the world! We have all entered the wonderful world of sharing and caring, exchanging and connecting, providing and receiving assistance, developing and achieving! It is more demanding than you would have ever thought, it does not bring you more money in the Greek public sector, although it is more time-consuming than it looks, and it requires organization, responsibility and lots of planning that goes unnoticed. However, it is more rewarding in so many aspects, not only the ones mentioned earlier!
Therefore, try posting, or not … It is absolutely fine whether you do it or not! No ELT colleague should judge or point fingers if you choose not to, as you should not judge or point fingers to those who do. Comment, evaluate, assess with an eye to cooperating, but do not accuse others of bragging, as others do not accuse you of following more traditional approaches, working less than you could have and selfishly keeping all the expertise to yourself! These last accusations sound crazy, right? That is exactly how crazy being accused of showing off sounds to those who post and exchange professional suggestions and ideas!
Sincerely and Respectfully Yours,