How are you going to grow this year? #ELTchat Summary 09/01/2013

A PLN for ELT Professionals

How are you going to grow this year? #ELTchat Summary 09/01/2013

This #ELTchat summary was contributed by Rose Bard and is reproduced here from her blog with her kind permission 

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I’m so glad that I finally attended  #ELTChat and also happy because the topic is related to Professional Development (PD) as it has been actually closely related to one of my new year resolution – to learn from and with other teachers online by engaging in honest and open dialogues.

This #eltchat (chat transcrip) took place on January 9th, 2013 – 2nd chat. This is an attempt to capture what went on during the conversations. If I missed something, mixed up or made a mistake somehow, let me know. Thanks for the opportunity to contribute.

New year celebrations are usually followed by New Year’s resolutions for most of us. During this #ELTchat, we shared what we intend to do in order to enhance our PD. The topic was inspired by Vicky Loras’  blog post Professional Development for Now and the Future  that was, in turn, inspired by Mike Griffin post  Next Step(s) in Professional Development  came at the right time   as we often start the new year by making some new, and some not so new, decisions related to our personal and professional lives. 

So this is the new year and as @shaznosel pointed out, the post by @vickyloras was “a simple but inspiring post” which made her think: “time for change!” Many of the points in the post came up during our chat, if not all of them. Let’s see what each #eltchatter said and what they are looking forward to in 2013.

@MarjorieRosenbe noticed that having a bit of more free time helps when she is in the classroom. She has also been updating materials for her classes and looking more at diversifying instruction to reach all learners. Another point she made was about developing her learners’ autonomy, something she is looking forward to developing with her students. As for PD, she stressed the importance of weekend webinars and chats like this as great contributers to her teaching development. As the discussion progressed to the point of learning something new for PD, she suggested that we could have a chat just to report on what we have learned and how that might have worked. That certainly would be an interesting chat!

@vickyloras said that she is going to observe and be observed more this year. She feels it is a great way to learn and reflect. She said that for her, the feedback after the observation is so useful – looking at the points and reflecting as necessary. She also feels that the observer may see things that the observed may have not noticed.

@Marisa_C pointed out that it is useful to use checklists to guide the observation. She explained that we can always create our own too or involve our learners more in the process of reflection of what helps them learn – these are observers always available to us, as she pointed out.

@shaznosel complemented this comment by saying that observing is the best way to open to honest/critical advice, and creating our own list is reflective action by itself and it is a good idea to have one for us and the students.

@Marisa_C said that a great way to develop professionally is by offering to do a free workshop for our colleagues and that is exactly what @vmorgana is doing this year! She is engaged in sharing with other teachers her knowledge on Literature, YLs and webtools. Her favorite suggestions from Vicky and Mike were point 9 (join conferences) and 10 (reflect, reflect, reflect). And she thinks that even though joining conferences can be expensive, it is also worthwhile. @vickyloras suggested for those interested in conferences to check out  @seburnt’s blog where Tyson does an awesome job keeping it updated

@KerrCarolyn has been reading Fanselow’s book, and she is planning to video her lessons and do more self observation. She is also looking at more  sustainable teaching practices : less paper, printing, stress and admin! She shared that she has been using the blog to keep a record of the summaries of her workshops and researches. She also thinks that writing summaries carries its own rewards and mentioned that #eltchat has a huge resource bank of ideas that has already been shared.

@shaznosel ‘s new year resolution is to use her PLN more and not be afraid to ask, she also thinks that blogging is a great reflective diary but time is so limited and response is not as quick as on Twitter, but even though it is a great way to express ourselves.

We chatted about blogging and how beneficial it is for reflecting and sharing, also about twitter as a staffroom and chats as great tech resource for PD.

@Noreen_Lam’s goal is balancing skills better in the classroom when creating her own materials, also self-observation and other stuff.

@Wiktor_K’s big goal is experimenting with technology – no 7 & 8 on Vicky / Michael’s list – He got given some gadgets and said it would be a shame not to use! As for experimenting then, he shared one of those Tech tools he has been experimenting with – – for projects and collaboration, this one’s free, minimal & awesome. He adds that the best thing is, you can invite colleagues and work on stuff together, hassle-free.

@Wiktor_K also shared that he is “learning something new”  as suggested in Vicky/ Michael’s list. He is learning 3 foreign languages, on a budget of 100 pounds each – and blogging it! 🙂


@cioccas is doing workshop on PLNs at #CamTESOL in February with @worldteacher, signed up for EVO Podcasting course: – starting her PD year off well! She also thinks that helping and mentoring other teachers is good for PD – “I learn as much as they do” she said.

As for me, @rosemerebard, my plan includes recording classes, reflecting, and asking other teachers to analyze the recordings. Reflection was always based on my perception of reality and after the Breaking Rules course at ItdI, I realized that not always what we say/see is what really happened, then recording, I believe will give me and my students solid material for reflection. Another resolution for PD is definetely join chats like this one on twitter more often. and having a mentor to discuss and reflect on a regular basis.

@toulasklavou posed a question:

Why does it take so much effort to keep up with tech tools as it seems to be the only way to develop nowadays? Even though I know that it is not the only way to develop it seems the most right and being online is like having a 2nd life if not done properly, my problem is how to’

@hoprea pointed out that “it seems to be the easier way to connect with like-minded people.”

I understood though that what @toulasklavou was actually questioning was how to keep a balance between online development resources & connections without losing track of the offline aspect of life or creating two. I thought his question was pretty interesting, but I also think this is very much to do with the individual. Maybe this would be a good topic for a future chat and by listening to others we could learn how to?

I would love to hear more of her thoughts & feelings on this though.


@Marisa_C tweeted some questions & suggestions as follows :
  • observing and being observed a great idea – have you thought of finding or creating some checklists? make ur own
  • how can students help writing our checklist?
  • to @shaznosel who tweeted “So who honestly writes a diary and reflects after each lesson???”  @Marisa_C suggested that “perhaps your blog would be a great place to do this”
  • Offer to do a free workshop for your colleagues – choose an area you want to develop, research it and do it
  • to @naomishema ” start your own Quality Circle”
  • Some institutions do idea sharing so everyone contributes.
  • Start a wiki on a specific topic – or a curation project with colleagues or online PLN
  • Nings are a great idea but sadly they are now not  free – but there are alternatives to nings   e.g.
  • A good idea to brainstorm areas where you feel you need to get better and work on one goal each month – e.g. reducing teacher talk
  • to @MarjorieRosenbe a ning or similar good for small group formation – the educator’s pln also free or  EFL 2.0 also open
  • to @toulasklavou  edtech is not the only thing – on the contrary a turn towards sound pedagogy
  • to @shaznosel blog comments are not instant and there are many more chats around u can join   
  • Involve your learners more in the process of reflection of what helps them learn – these are observers ALways available to u
  • to @KerrCarolyn Russell Stannard – watch morue of his teacher training videos
  • Do something different and check to see how it works – not such edtech – e,g, read up on suggestopedia or dogme and trial i
  • I think going off to other directions does not guarantee conversations like we have here – this is THE place
  • Believe me, I have started plenty – a yahoo group is a good idea but the emails can be a nightmare
  • and to @rosemerebard   I had rashly promised I would do some Greek in second life – should set that up and do a few lessons
I look forward to your critical feedback. This was the first chat of many ( as I hope to fit into my schedule) and this is the first summary. I hope to contribute with many more in the future. 
About the Author

I have been teaching English for 14 years now and don’t imagine doing anything else. Even though I love other things, being in class is just an amazing thing. When I get a new group, that group becomes a little village and together we travel to different places, learn different things about ourselves and other people. It is a journey beyond the language and the language becomes the media to explore the world around us.

You can visit her blog here and she is @rosemerebard on Twitter