I am writing my first post in 2020. The last entry I wrote here at the end of December was about being focused, and coincidentally after that I stopped writing and… focused on the work I had. Between that post and now I facilitated one 8-week online course, one intensive 4-week training for teachers and new trainers, and attended a professional development summit. These involved some flying, climate and time zone adjustment, cultural sensitivity and awareness, and lots and lots of interaction with amazing people. Each of them deserve a separate blog post of course!
Luckily (for me) I managed to get back home just in time before whole countries started to close down for the COVID quarantine. Today is the first day when schools are closed in Ukraine, and the coming 3 weeks would most likely bring more (un)predictable event and meeting cancelations.
Not surprisingly, many colleagues around me seem (to want/plan/hope) to go completely online. To stay updated, I signed up for the Future Learn Course ‘Teaching English Online’, and keep reading articles (thanks to Shaun Wilden) and exploring remote teaching resources kindly shared by Daniel Stanford, Director of Faculty Development and Technology Innovation in DePaul University’s Center for Teaching and Learning.
At the same time this post is not about new ideas and techniques in distant learning and teaching. Something that has been on my mind lately is the sense of ‘control’ we seem to want to have, a sense of ‘certainty’ that appears to be so fragile and can disappear in an instant. I wonder if our attempt to make actions in the situations like this is about ‘feeling in control’ (rather than ‘having’ the control itself)? For example, starting an online conversation with students or colleagues as a way to be proactive (and ‘in control’)? Deciding to learn something new about using Zoom for large classes of learners as an active step to ‘keep my Professional Development under control’? Or… to calm down?
Or maybe it is so very human to try and ‘work with’ the situation or circumstances that are too large to be changed? To make some meaning out of the experience, to learn from it, and make the most out of it, personally and professionally? (bringing me back to the Experiential Learning Cycle I love using so much)
I notice now how helpful writing these lines feels: less stress, more constructive thinking, more idea brewing. It could also be (to me) a sign to shift perspective, the time to actually focus more on the longer-term goals, rather than short (but very interesting and exciting!) projects I often find myself involved in. I am making a list of very new ideas to start working on. Maybe, some will become posts here.
One teacher I remember from my college years used to remind us about the importance of going ‘above the situation’ and ‘seeing a bigger picture’. I think these times may turn out to be perfect for this reflective shift to me.
I hope my pictures of the Kuwait Towers helped me convey the idea I was trying to share. If they did not, then I hope to have been able to make you smile while reading the post. (And I am very happy if I did!)
What are you thinking about these days? What has the (quieter classroom) time motivated you to do or try?
Thank you for reading, and stay warm and healthy!