Doors and Wishes

Do you reflect on the passing year at the end of December? Every time I try to look back at my year through a professional lens, I keep ‘zooming out’ into a bigger picture. This post is not 100% ELT-related. Or may be it is.

Earlier this month I attended a British Council webinar on Teacher Well-Being facilitated by Judith Hanks and Sian Etherington (its full title was ‘Sticky Objects and Positive Emotions: researching teacher well-being and resilience’, and the recording can be accessed here)

Beiteddine Palace door. Lebanon. Picture taken in 2015.

One metaphor caught my eye (and ear!), and it was about an ordinary door the teacher in the story never knew about, and her colleague showed it to her, which made her life easier. There was a picture of the door on the slide.

The idea of an unseen door made me think. How many doors go unnoticed in my life (metaphorically, and literally)? How many beautiful doors have I already passed without noticing? How many doors did not look super attractive (to me) at first, but were leading to great things? (and… the other way round)?

In Lviv, Ukraine.


In Lviv, Ukraine.

Questions to Self 

  • Do I even know what a ‘door’ actually means? The Wikipedia helpfully prompts that it is a movable barrier that allows ingress into and egress from an enclosure (in simple words, a building, room, or vehicle). The created opening in the wall is a doorway or portal. 
  • Do I enter the beautiful doors I see? Not always, no. I may be curious what’s there, and I sometimes let myself imagine what kind of life people there are leading.
  • Do I regret not entering (or even knocking)? 
  • Do I (sometimes) knock on the doors?
  • Which doors do I (never) take pictures of? And why?

Mustang, Horse-Riding Club in Dnipro, Ukraine. This picture is meaningful to myself and my sister (the artist).

Fairy-tale gates made by Uzhgorod blacksmiths. Ukraine.

Questions to Readers

  • Which doors do you notice?
  • Which doors were open for you?
  • Which ones did you open for someone else?
  • How do you choose which one to open?
  • How comfortable do you feel opening a new door?
  • How many times would you knock on a door to open?

Tustan, Ukraine (a Medieval cliff-side fortress). Taken in 2018.

The Golden Gate of Kyiv, main gate in 11 cent Kyivan Rus’ capital.

December ends, which brings a new year. Let’s hope that it will keep the doors open to you (if you choose to enter), and that you will keep the (metaphorical? virtual?) doors open for friends, family, and loved ones.

P.S. Below are some more doors I passed while traveling. I never realized that I had seen all those doors, and that I actually took the pictures. Writing this post was an interesting reflection exercise. 

Update in March 2021: If you love poetry, or like using it in your classes, you will enjoy this idea by David Deubelbeiss on his blog ELT Buzz (by the way, there are lots of great teaching ideas there!)

About Zhenya

ELT: teacher educator, trainer coach, reflective practice addict https://wednesdayseminars.wordpress.com/.
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4 Responses to Doors and Wishes

  1. Andriy Ruzhynskiy says:

    Hi Zhenya
    What a great metaphor! Isn’t that interesting that you have taken so many pictures of different doors? This is probably something unconscious in your mind.
    Doors have always been a special symbol. You certainly remember that gates without any fences in Korean temples. Entering a door or a gate must be a very powerful action that opens new horizons to a person.
    Answering your questions:
    Which doors do you notice?
    – It looks like definitely fewer than you do. But I am sure I will start noticing doors more often and in a more reflective way

    Which doors were open for you?
    – Not so many, but not so few. I feel I am a lucky person to have been able to open and to be invited to open those doors, and they led to good educational institutions, to good friends, and to really good places to work. At the same time, we can treat every book we read or even every internet post as a door to something new and definitely useful for you, in a positive or even in a negative way.

    Which ones did you open for someone else?
    – I really hope I have opened a lot of doors to my trainees and to my nearest and dearest.

    How do you choose which one to open?
    – The main criterion is probably how useful it will be for that person who it is for (including myself)

    How comfortable do you feel opening a new door?
    – It is always an exciting moment, but it is always rewarding as well

    How many times would you knock on a door to open?
    – I know for sure that it is always a good idea to knock and to try. But if after a couple of times it does not open, I accept it as this door is not for me. I don’t even know if this is a good or a bad trait. But this is what it is.

    Thank you again for your lively post. It really gave me some urge to reflect on my life experience from a new angle.
    Happy New Year and Merry Christmas! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Zhenya says:

      Hi Andriy

      Happy New Year and Merry Christmas to you too!

      Wow, what a surprise it is to see the first comment of 2021 from you! So exciting to know you read my blog, and to see your reflections about the doors (and not only!).

      Haha, it was a big discovery to me to see the number of doors in my pictures. Probably, thinking about them subconsciously, or maybe that idea from the Korean temples you mentioned. I should have some pictures of those gates, by the way.

      Thank you for developing the metaphor further! For example, you mentioned that it is sometimes important ‘to be invited to open [the] doors’, and that ‘if after a couple of times [a door] does not open, I accept it as this door is not for me’. We can always enjoy the ‘outer side’ (the outdoor, right?) and move on.

      You said ‘I really hope I have opened a lot of doors to my trainees and to my nearest and dearest’, and I think it is very true. Have you ever counted how many teachers you have worked with during the intensive courses you facilitated internationally? And the teachers you worked with online?

      And… you wrote ‘I am sure I will start noticing doors more often and in a more reflective way’ and I will be curious to hear more about this in the future. Or to see the pics. Or… to read a blog post about it, if you decide to write one! 🙂

      To a smooth start of a new year!
      Zhenya

      Like

  2. Wilma Luth says:

    Hi Zhenya, thanks so much for sharing this beautiful metaphor! I think your insights are ELT-related because they are about life. We teach who we are and that includes our frameworks for meaning making. (“Frameworks” — a good door-related word!)
    Your post reminded me of the times I thought I knew which door was the right one for me. I would go to open it only to find it locked tight. But, eventually, I’d find another door that was the right one for me.
    Happy New Year and Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zhenya says:

      Hi Wilma

      Thank you for the words in your comment! My 2 big takeaways from it:

      1) ‘I think your insights are ELT-related because they are about life’ – Yes! And even though it may sound obvious, there are so many opportunities for a language lesson in various (non-ELT) ideas! Or metaphors, of course. Especially them.
      2) the importance of ‘our [own] frameworks for meaning making’: this way of seeing the door metaphor was very relevant for me now, after taking the Dogme in ELT course and questioning my views on lesson planning frameworks, for example. Or seeing more options for reflective practice frameworks (for teachers and students, or anyone, actually).

      Thank you for making me think more about this!

      And hope the new year will offer the right number of the unlocked and welcoming doors to you. And that you will keep writing!
      Zhenya

      Like

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