FIVE PD SESSIONS in a ROW, AM I CRAZY?
I asked myself the title's question in Ercan Airport, Northern Cyprus, while waiting for my flight home to Istanbul. The answer, and subsequent blogpost, is categorically, NO!
The reason I come to that conclusion is quite simple: dedicated and motivated teachers, who not only inspired me to keep energetic and positive, but showed me some improvements to my syllabus design unit simply by participating and sharing their collaborative knowledge. For this post I would like to share the main subject areas I covered as a reminder to anyone who thinks professional development training is easy, but to also add that if you have a good audience and participatory group of teachers it really is fabulously enjoyable.
This is one of my favorite sessions in any PD and I have posted about it before. therefore I won't dwell on it too long, other than say, no matter who I present my ideology and methodology for student awareness to in this context, I get amazing participation and feedback. Allow me to elaborate, yet still paraphrase. If you want the full version I recommend you click on this link FIVE STAGES of LEARNING.
The basic premise is related to the five stages of grief, and it is 100% a metaphorical reference, as I feel no near death or post death feelings related to learning of any kind. On the contrary, my excitement about professional development(learning for teachers) and learning in schools that we partake in, is without exception the most exciting and rewarding profession on the planet. So without anymore testimony and waffle, I give you:
Many young students of English in Turkey tend to be rather disdainful of the learning of the lingua franca, many many more do not. However, it is quite common for students to go through anti-English phases through out their young lives. This stage recognizes this fact and it is very real. An example of denial in Turkish student phraseology (translated) would be:
"I am Turkish, why do I need to learn English?"
In fact, even the most nationalistic can not ignore the influence of English around the world, and if students in this day and age want to expand, go or even study overseas should realize that, in fact, English is helpful not a hindrance.
Young people are angry, we all know that. And believe you me, Turkish students can get vey angry when they have to learn English. Even when working in English-medium institutions I have witnessed and experienced many angry young students who fail to grasp that we are trying to help them. A typical angry retort could be:
"I hate English! It is such a stupid language. I won't do it."
This stage is where things start to change in the students' behavior. They are still lying to themselves, but it is no longer an aggression or confrontational issue. Therefore, they try to make amends for their previous stages by offering the chance to themselves that will do something, albeit half-heartedly, but it is never enough. So, they fail in their endeavors again. A typical response at this stage could be:
"If I do this quiz tonight, at least I have done some studying for the exam, right?"
Now the reality kicks in, but before recovery they have to feel this pain. Of course it can manifest in people in so many ways, but what I have seen is genuine depression. The students feel isolated, left behind and in need of major help. It is this time we need to be ready as teachers to step in and really give advice, support and empathy. A typical feeling could be:
"Yaaa, I am such a loser. I have not even tried. I am disappointed with myself."
So when students of a FIVE STAGES VARIETY reach here, and to where their peers have been on average for about four months, they do feel isolated. But, because they have the strength within, they can deal with it better. Of course, it is important that we as their teachers respect the stages and make efforts to support and help the now. They need encouragement, without pandering, and they need to be recognized as making a genuine effort to improve on their learning curve. A quality response could be:
"I know I have been foolish, but now I plan to be honest with myself and move forward. When I get assignments, homework or just time to revise, I will use the time effectively and make a difference to my self."
THESE are the FIVE STAGES of learning. In fact, I had planned to do the other four sessions in this post too, but I believe it will be too long. Thus, I will leave you with this and keep you waiting for session two PD in CYPRUS: UbD for Newcomers.