Using the summer break to get organized and ready for the coming academic year includes reflecting on the monthly RPG meetings we had in 2017-18. Last year I shared a post describing our topics from 2016-17 which you can read here.
The plan for the last year had been to stay within one theme, and we came up with ‘ONE‘ as such a connecting idea. To highlight the importance of learning from our own experience, from a single moment, experience, interaction, etc. In reality, not all the meetings had a clear focus on ‘ONE’. I am sharing all the topics below, with a brief summary or questions we discussed.
A New School Year
We talked about the important aspects of a new academic year for each member, the areas of professional interest and possible learning goals for the whole year. You can read more about that meeting in the post here.
We talked about the people we (had) worked with or were still working with; people from whom we learned a lot, or a little; people who had left a mark on our hearts as teachers or humans. People we mentioned were: a critical friend, a buddy, someone who always disagrees, a difficult colleague, etc.
The meeting’s important result was expressing gratitude to the teaching community we were a part of, and to the specific people our teaching path had/has brought us to.
The session description said the following:
We are all reading: ELT and beyond, fiction and non-fiction, any language. Which book was important for you this year? Which one would you like to re-read, and why? If you can, bring the book or its picture.
Possible reflection before the session:
Quotes from the book I chose
What I realized after reading the book
How I can apply it
Who I will/might/could give the book to
The discussion was wonderful: none of the books members brought were from or on ELT (among many, I remember two books about parenting, one on Time Management, one on mindfulness, and a couple of fiction stories). At the same time, each book brought something new to the teaching parts of our identities. I wonder if this session can be repeated yearly and still be interesting?
Language Learning and Acquisition
The main pre-session questions were ‘What is the difference between learning a language and acquiring it?’ and ‘What are some ways to promote language acquisition [in the classroom]?’
One Context, Culture, Working Space
These were the pre-meeting questions for the attendees:
- How do these shape your teaching style?
- When/If they change, how does (would) your teaching change?
- How might being aware of them impact your teaching?
You can read more about that meeting in the post here.
Livening up the Process
The questions and task before the session:
What do you bring to class (in your bag/pocket/tray/box)? Bring these items in, or take a picture
How do you use those objects during the lesson?
How do they help your students’ learning?
How do they help you?
Teacher’s Personality and Heated Discussions
Pre-session questions were the following:
What personal qualities help you be an effective teacher?
What would you like to develop or improve?
When you’re having some controversial discussion with your students, how much of your personality should there be in it? (or should you just stay a facilitator/moderator/observer?)
What has your experience been?
One activity I tried this year
A classical swap-shop format of the session allowed everyone to participate and contribute. Everyone said ‘yes’ to the questions asked before the meeting (see below) and came prepared to share!
Have you tried any new (classroom) activity that you’re going to keep on using?
Do you use any digital tools in your teaching? Have you tried any new technology trick(s) this year?
One ELT event
In this final meeting of the year we made a list of all ELT events attended (including webinars, conferences, training courses, etc.) and reflected on the learning from them. The cards in the image below show the structure of the meeting and what we focused on.
We were also brainstorming ideas on which events to attend in the coming year, and… possibly organizing a mini-conference in our city. Let’s see what we are up to after the summer break! 🙂
Final thoughts and notes
- It is amazing to know that we have already had sixteen (!) meetings as a Reflective Practice Group
- In the past school year, I personally ran only 4 meetings , 4 were prepared and delivered by the other members, and 1 was ‘facilitator-less‘.
- On August 23 we are co-presenting in Kyiv and sharing our passion and commitment to reflection. The topic is ‘Alternative Ways to Develop as a Teacher’. Hopefully, there will be more similar groups in the other cities in Ukraine. Wish us good luck! 🙂
- My endless gratitude and appreciation goes to the colleagues and friends who are either running similar groups at the moment, or initiated them in the past. You responded to my numerous questions, helped with topics and ideas, and simply encouraged to try and keep going. I feel great celebrating the reflective practice bonds and professional friendships we have.
- And… thank you, the readers, for listening, commenting and simply being there, on the other side of my public reflective journey on this blog.