Sandwich reflection

Along with several other bloggers, I was invited by Joanna Malefaki to reflect on my recent academic and professional achievements as well as weaknesses in a kind of ‘sandwich reflection’. After reading Vedrana Vojkovic’s great post, I realized I should roll up my sleeves now before it’s too late. The thing is that the holiday time is turning me into a version of my favourite cartoon character – Garfield – the permanently lazy and hungry cat. I hope I won’t put on the weight I’ve lost over the past couple of months (one of my greatest achievements – obviously not suitable for a post like this :-))

Let’s start with a few professional successes, then. As I already described in one of my recent reflective posts, this academic year has been special for me – for the first time ever I got the opportunity to examine students at the final state exam. For me it was the icing on the cake; at last I could see in reality what the final outcome of all the endeavour looks like (or should look like) and what the effort is actually for. This is an extremely helpful insight for me as a teacher because from now on I’ll be able to keep clearer objectives in mind when preparing my future students. Metaphorically speaking, I know where the path leads and I can adjust the content and methods accordingly.

I was also pleased to learn that a group of young learners I’ve been teaching for three years had done very well in a standardized test aimed at juxtaposing the skills of grammar school and primary school students from various regions of the country. This is a very important result for our school, though I admit it’s not just the outcome of the students’ hard work and my immaculate pedagogic skills; it’s mostly thanks to serendipity, so to speak. I happen to teach a group of talented kids. Full stop.

On a slightly negative note, I experienced a very disappointing feeling when I read my senior students’ anonymous feedback back in April. I described the situation in this post and I don’t want to delve into it again since most of my regular readers are already familiar with the details.

Back to the sweet part; I’d never boosted my professional development like in the 2013/2014 academic year – I attended conferences, workshops, and webinars. I started blogging, using Facebook and Twitter and I became a member of several online groups such as #Eltpics, #Eltchat, #Czelt, #30GoalsEdu, We’re on Air, Reflective Practice Blog Challenge and more. All in all, it’s been an exciting and prolific year.

I believe my enthusiasm and excitement have not remained unnoticed because I’ve been offered the post of the head of the English teachers department (sounds more prestigious that it really is). It only means I’ll have more duties and responsibility, such as observing classes and organizing competitions, but I’ll also have to handle the red tape stuff, which is not my cup of tea at all. Moreover, for the first time in my life I’ll be a class teacher, which I always wanted to be but I never dared to ask for it because other class teachers had warned me. To put it bluntly, nobody wants to be a class teacher once they become one.

A lot of unknown is ahead of me, with its roots in the previous academic year. It’s not easy to create an action plan because I need the experience first. All I know is that I’ll do everything in my power to stay sane and enthusiastic. I’ll need to manage my time carefully, plan everything in advance and in small steps. My motto will probably be something like: Less is more. I suspect I’ll have less time for blogging and my online life may suffer a little in general. But I’m ready for the sacrifice because I feel it’s an inevitable part of my personal and professional development.

Apparently, I’m an optimist and the positive preveils. It’s not because I’m so self-assured or even conceited, but because it’s been a good year. Overall, the 2013/2014 was a concentrated and condensed mixture of small successes and new experience, and it wasn’t spoiled by the very few failures I came across on the way. I hope the next year will be at least as pleasurable as the previous one.

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About Hana Tichá

I'm an EFL teacher based in the Czech Republic. I've been teaching English to learners of all ages for more than 20 years. I love metaphors and inspiring discussions concerning teaching, learning and linguistics.
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6 Responses to Sandwich reflection

  1. venvve says:

    Dear Hana,

    Noooo! This sentence stood out while I was reading your post: “I suspect I'll have less time for blogging and my online life may suffer a little in general.” While I’ve often said I was impressed (awed even) at your extent of online activity, I may not have stressed enough how much I enjoy reading both your blog and comments on other people’s blogs. One reason is, unsurprisingly, that I agree with the vast majority of what you say and how you say it. Another is – perhaps more unexpectedly – that I have come to see you as a sort of role model (for lack of a better term) for how a NNEST can participate just as actively as a NEST in the online ELT community. I don’t want this to be about native speakers vs non-native speakers, so I have to tread carefully. 🙂 I guess what I’m trying to say is – it seems to me that the world of ELT blogging is dominated by NESTs. Bold assertion here. 🙂 No, I haven’t researched this; I have no firm evidence. Of course there are very active NNEST bloggers, some which I’m aware of and probably thousands of whom I’m not, but in the small and undoubtedly limited online ELT world I live in it is generally NEST bloggers who are prolific and, perhaps even more importantly, whose opinion and writing is shared and commented on on social media. I hasten to add that this is just an observation; I’m definitely not blaming anyone or saying that one group is deliberately muscling in on another’s territory, or anything of the sort. If anything, any NNEST’s who feel there should be more NNEST blogs out there should do something about it (and, of course, many are).
    I digress. The point is – I think your blog and engagement online serve as a great example to NNESTs of what/how much they can contribute to the wider ELT community. No doubt it will be professionally challenging and rewarding taking on your new role, but don’t forget you are needed online. So, yeah, no pressure. 🙂 Good luck with your new responsibilities – you’ll do a great job!

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  2. Hana Tichá says:

    Dear Vedrana,
    First of all, I'd like to thank you for your cordial and encouraging comment. I really appreciate there's someone out there who would miss me 🙂 You comment perfectly fits into this reflective sandwich feedback, and THIS is actually the real icing on the cake. This only proves we create a special kind friendship with the people we interact with online. It’s good to know we are heard and respected. I think I know how you feel. Now that I think about it, I remember feeling desperate when Anne Hendler announced that she might disappear from the blogospehere for some time because she had some extra duties and a tight schedule. I almost panicked – I feared I would lose someone I really liked.
    The words you say about me as a NNEST role model – well, that’s really flattering, coming from you, an experienced educator and someone who can express ideas so clearly. I can only double what you say about the dominant role of NESTs in the world of blogging. However, the borders have recently become blurred for me. I mean, when I read Mike Griffin’s, Anne Hendler’s, David Harbinson’s or Sandy Millin’s blogs, the first thing that springs to mind is NOT that they’re native speakers of English. On the other hand, when I read your blog, Joanna Malefaki’s blog or Anna Loseva’s posts, I don’t think about the fact that you are NNESTs because it’s not relevant for me anymore. But I admit I used to find it important in the past – yes, I used to look up to NESTs. Nowadays I truly believe we need each other (NESTs and NNESTs) – we learn from each other and have a lot to share and offer.
    Well, thank you very much for your support. It means a lot to me. Have a great summer!

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  3. Hi Hana!
    I have been meaning to thank you for taking part in the #sandwichreflection challenge for some time now but I too have come down with the Garfield flu : )
    I really enjoyed reading about your achievements and hearing about some of the challenges of this year. Well, challenges help us grow, don't they? What would teaching be like if it didn't have a difficult moment or two?
    I would also like to congratulate you on being offered the post of Head of the English department. Well done!! I am sure it will be a great experience.
    I do hope you still have time to blog a bit though cause well, I enjoy reading your posts : )
    Anyhow, thanks again and have a lovely summer : )

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  4. Hana Tichá says:

    Thanks for your comment, Joanna. I think it was a great idea to invent this kind of reflection challenge. It was not easy for me to sort out ideas though – I did have a vague idea (or a blurred picture) of the positives and negatives but although I've written several reflective posts, I found it difficult to summarize, to put these fractions together in one, final post. But I'm glad it's out at last. Well, have a wonderful summer full of sunshine and keep blogging!

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  5. Sandy says:

    Hi Hana,
    Thanks for the mention in your reply to Vedrana's comment. I second completely what she says, particularly this part “This sentence stood out while I was reading your post: “I suspect I'll have less time for blogging and my online life may suffer a little in general.” While I’ve often said I was impressed (awed even) at your extent of online activity, I may not have stressed enough how much I enjoy reading both your blog and comments on other people’s blogs.” I love reading your blog because you are so open about sharing what happens in your classroom. I also enjoy the bit of continuing contact it gives me with the Czech Republic 🙂
    Good luck with your role as the Head of the English Department, and I hope it doesn't mean we lose you! You'll be great, precisely because you're an optimist and because you're always willing to learn!
    Sandy

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  6. Hana Tichá says:

    Thank you for your encouraging, lovely and sweet comment, Sandy.

    I remember when I entered the online sphere about one year ago and started reading various blogs, the authors seemed so distant and alien to me. Since then I've gradually got into touch with many of the big names (yours included), mainly through commenting and other ways of interaction. And I've discovered that they aren't so distant and alien at all. In fact, they are very (and genuinely) supportive. Blogging is a special kind of writing; it gives the writer an immense freedom of expression, but at the same time it has its inner rules and principles, which one needs to follow, mostly intuitively.

    Well, I believe that when things settle down in September, I’ll be back in full armour. I’ll be back because blogging is not just a whim for me, it’s something I will truly miss but most of all, I will miss other bloggers and the interaction. So don’t give up on me 🙂

    Hana

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