The responses to my call for “Advice to your Younger Teacher Self”to be used at the upcoming ETAI teacher’s conference have begun coming in from around the globe. So far we have responses from teachers from Israel, Romania, Italy and Greece!
I requested short responses, so as to be easily presented. One teacher had something longer to say, so it has turned into a Guest Post!
So, here’s Israel (Izzy) Cohen:
“Before selecting a nickname (“Izzy” in my case), check the Internet to see who else has used it. I’m not the first authentically Jewish cartoon character, Sgt. Izzy Cohen, one of Sgt Fury’sHowling Commandos.
/s/ Israel Cohen, Sgt E6 USAR
(Check out what he looks like by clicking on the following link! Sure doesn’t look much like a teacher!)
Setting: A standard looking waiting room – a couple of chairs, some magazines and a water cooler.
Participants:One tired EFL teacher, a woman whom I know slightly from the neighborhood and her 20-year-old daughter.
Me: Hello! How are you?
Woman: Fine! Have you met my daughter?
(Woman turns to daughter and nods in my direction): She’s an English teacher. (I’m not insulted that the woman doesn’t remember my name, I don’t remember hers either…).
Daughter: Really? Do you teach high-school?
Daughter: Do you teach the LITERATURE? All that “bridging” shmiding stuff? (she is referring to the “bridging tasks” we have in the Literature Program. Shmiding is her own invented word).
Me: Yes, I teach all levels.
Daughter: You know, that material was really hard. My favorite story was “The Split Cherry Tree” . (turns to her mother) You know, we learned a play and stories and even poems in English written for native speakers. Really hard words! (turns back to me) But I got a 97!
Mother: (in a complaining voice) “Tell me, how could she get a grade of 97 when she won’t speak in English?”
Me: Your daughter is very talented. (Sigh. Did I mention that I was tired?)
Daughter: Our teacher made us work really hard. We went over everything over and over again. (YAY! She appreciated a teacher!).
Mother: That’s the way it should be (in a satisfied tone).
Daughter: What was the name of the play we learned? I can’t remember. I liked “The Split Cherry Tree“.
Me: “All My Sons”?
Daughter: Yes! That’s it! Isn’t it about a doctor who saves someone fighting against their country?
Me: Perhaps you mean the story “The Enemy“?
Daughter: Oh yes, we learned that one too. What were the poems we learned? I liked “The Split Cherry Tree”.
Mother: They are calling our name. Bye!
Me: (to myself) Phew, now I won’t have to play “guess the poem” with her… There might have been cherry trees in them. Back to my own book!
Yes, yes, I know that the very idea of sending a message to my younger teacher self doesn’t exactly make sense. Besides the necessity of time travel, how could a younger version of myself understand my perspective today? Also, what could I say?
That was my first reaction to the “shower” of blog posts triggered by Joanna Malefaki’s lovely post and her blog challenge on the topic (see the bottom of Joanna’s post for links).
* I remembered Bruce Willis meeting his younger self in the movie “Kid”.
* I discovered delightful, creative gems in other teachers’ posts – it seems there is a lot to be said after all! And in so many ways!
* I learned that Sophia Khan (whose post made me chuckle!) had solved the problem of time travel: “I wish I could tell you more but it might destroy the very fabric of the universeso better not”.
* I remembered that last year we had a lot of fun at the ETAIconference with seven-word-autobiographies. Crowdsourcing teachers’ input makes for creative, informative and downright funny reading!
And last, but not least…
* I considered the fact that examining different perspectives is a skill we teach in class. Crowdsourcing advice to a younger self from teachers whose ages are different, who teach in different settings and different countries – now that might even include the skill of “comparing and contrasting”!
So, please fill in your short message to your younger teacher self using this form. The messages must be short! I’m not sure whether I will collate them for the upcoming summer conference in slide show format (as I did last year) or think of something else, but brevity is a necessity!
I can’t wait to see what the teachers will come up with!
Meanwhile, I won’t tell you what my message will be, but until the replies start coming in I will share another kind of message. Enjoy and don’t forget to fill in the form!
The adventure part proceeds at a pace similar to those Indiana Jones movies from way back when (fast!), as our heroes narrowly escape death again and again. Though I must point out that in Pratchett’s books (this one is the first of the Discworld series), it’s not death but rather Death, an intriguing character in its own right.
But adventure isn’t what attracts me again and again to books by the late Terry Pratchett – it’s the language! I love the word plays, the imagery and the choice of names. Not to mention the humor! It’s wonderful when logic simply gives up… I’m sure I’ve missed a lot of connotations but delight in the ones I’ve picked up on. Both my sons have read this book and I’ve been sounding off my interpretations on them. They approve of some of them…
For example, I’m positive that when listing the shady characters around town, “gonephs” is from the Yiddish / Hebrew “Ganav” (thief). I also suspect that a place called Bel-Shamharoth is a word play on the Hebrew name of the place “Beit Ha Shomroni Ha Tov” (the house of the Good Samaritan). You might think that couldn’t be so because the place in the books was not a hospitable one at all, but I think doing that would be a typical Pratchett word play. My sons aren’t convinced…
It’s great to share books! The boys recommend “The Wee Free Men” next time I’m in the mood for another Pratchett book. Noted!
That is most certainly not something I say or even feel I want to say very often. Yet yesterday I wanted to shout it!
Sandy Millinonce called me “The Eternal Teacher”. She may have referred to the fact that except for a stint in a “baby shop”, teaching is the only thing I have been doing since I was still in high school (which was a long time ago!). But perhaps it is a reference to the fact that I can’t seem to stop thinking about how my own experiences relate to class.
I can’t see how feeling this excited over a mistake can be replicated in class. My students know they can correct homework assignments and that they get extra points for correcting their exams. We use process writing for their literature tasks, and the students work on corrected versions.
All helpful but not exciting. Mistakes are still closely linked to grades and in high-school there is also the issue of students who are afraid to look bad in front of their peers. Not elements I am able to eliminate in my classroom.
Compare the classroom to the following situation:
* I’ve taken up photography purely for my own pleasure. I’m not studying it in a formal manner, I don’t have any tests or deadlines.
* Learning about controlling the settings on my camera doesn’t come easily for me. Aperture and shutter speed settings (not to mention other things!) are all related to numbers. I have a hard time with numbers in any situation, I tend to have difficulty remembering them and often get them confused. I’m good with theory until it gets down to numbers.
* Yesterday I had the pleasure of going out on a photo-walk with two good friends who know much more than I do about photography. I got totally muddled regarding which setting numbers work for what.
And it didn’t matter one bit.
I wasn’t worried about they would think of me (great people!) and I didn’t have any photos that needed to be handed in. Nobody was judging my work and I didn’t have to show photos to anyone if I didn’t want to. I had a great time simply experimenting, trying out different settings and discovering the results.
And I made some glorious mistakes! Mistakes as in the photos didn’t come out the way I thought they might be supposed to according to the settings I had chosen (note the use of the word “might”!) but the results are so fun! Here’s my favorite “mistake” (it wasn’t dark yet, to mention one thing):
Perhaps a science teacher could replicate my joyful experience in a lab, but I don’t see it happening in class. Nonetheless, studying photography has reminded me, once again, that its useless to give students information they aren’t ready for. My friends had lots more to tell me, but I don’t want to hear it till I get a handle on those setting numbers!
Teaching English as a FOREIGN language to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students