A Shift in Perspective

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!

About Zhenya

ELT: teacher educator, trainer coach, reflective practice addict https://wednesdayseminars.wordpress.com/.
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5 Responses to A Shift in Perspective

  1. Ron Bradley says:

    Hi Zhenya, it’s interesting that you mention using Zoom with large classes. I actually delivered several webinars to Yemenis teacher at AmidEast in Adan–until 2:00 in the morning for me. Where are the emotocons?! It wasn’t ideal in terms of real time face to face communication as the camera did not display the whole class at one time. And even if it did the Ps would have been to far away to really have any intimate conversations. It was also difficult to hear individual teachers. So, even though I tried to do some small group work, it was more T centered showing and explaining my PPTs than I would have liked. Sadly, it all ended one morning (their time) when at the end of the 3 hour session they were receiving e-mails from home telling them to get home as they were under attack (as we know now) from the Saudis. In 2010 I was contracted to spend 3 months in country to do a needs assessment and training for AmidEast. It all came crashing down with the presence of Alcaida. Still a sad mess! And my government is complicate. That’s when I decided to offer Webinars. Perhaps their are other platforms or better ways to set them up.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Zhenya says:

      Hi Ron

      As always, good to hear from you! Love our ‘multi-channel’ discussions these days!

      Thank you for the Yemenis teacher webinar story (and hopefully, the sad part in it finds a resolution one day)…

      Interesting to see how online teaching/training was needed at different times of our lives, and for different purposes. Was 2010 the time you tried Zoom? If so, my guess is that the newer versions offer more options and features to accommodate more participants. It looks like now there are many more options in terms of the versions you can buy (yes, they are not free, but a lot more supported). Besides, they offer support during the COVID-19 pandemic, and even special tariffs for the most affected countries.

      Personally, I am learning a lot from #CoronaVirusTeaching conversations on Twitter

      Stay warm and positive!


  2. Lovely photos of Kuwait! I’m hoping things will not be completely online this upcoming academic year in Kuwait as I’m returning next month (hopefully) to teach. However there has been so many helpful tutorials online on how to use platforms such as google classroom etc that has been really useful to learn.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zhenya says:

      Thank you for reading and leaving the comment! Yes, I heard that Kuwait is going to restart classroom lessons in the coming weeks (and even run a training program for teachers, with appropriate precautions, etc. Where are you teaching there?
      On rereading this post, I see how much learning has happened since the time of writing it: I took 2 online courses on teaching online, watched hours of tutorials, talked with lots of teachers and trainers, taught asynchronous courses online, etc. In any scenario, this learning would be useful in the future.
      Thank you for the conversation, and hope your school year starts well.
      P.S. Thank you for following my blog!

      Liked by 1 person

      • The school is in the khaitan area. They believe its going to be online teaching until Nov/Dec or even January. I think Kuwait has moved the phase 3 now with more restrictions being lifted. Definitely think I need to take at least one course of online teaching, its so new to me.

        You’re welcome 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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