"Planning Backwards - A Practical Guide for Effective Lesson Planning"
Could you tell us a few things about your presentation and how it relates to this year’s Convention theme?
Lesson planning constitutes an integral part of the teaching process which more often than not can determine to a great extend the success of the learning process. Backward planning is a practical guide that will enable teachers to rethink of the way they plan their lessons making them more meaningful and effective. What this presentation aims at is helping teachers save time and energy as well as achieving their goals.
Briefly tell us a few things about yourself as a professional.
After completing a BA in English Language and Literature I started teaching English to students of different levels and age groups. I have been teaching for more than a decade now which has enabled me to have various experiences in the EFL classroom, some of them very pleasant and others rather challenging. Some of these challenging moments led me to continue with postgraduate studies in the field of Educational Psychology. My academic interests include learning difficulties, student motivation and emotional expressiveness. My vision for autonomous and confident learners motivates me to continue searching for new ways to enhance my teaching strategies and expand my knowledge.
Is “keeping it practical” an important part of present day EFL classrooms? Why, do you think, this is?
Practicality is an essential aspect for EFL teachers both for novice and experienced ones. No one wants to spend endless hours preparing for a lesson yet not have the desirable results. On the contrary, every teacher wishes to have well-organised procedures, practical techniques and helpful aids to make each lesson a unique experience for their students. Therefore, practicality is a key feature for effective teaching and motivated learners.
Are there problems when new practices are applied in the classrooms?
Every new practice needs to be tested over time, evaluated and adjusted in order to be effective in a specific context. New techniques and methods are necessary though both for teachers and learners to keep them motivated and encouraged to improve. There is no denying that every new practice entails a certain degree of anxiety and skepticism, yet teaching and learning are dynamic processes that require experimentation. With flexibility and the necessary feedback and adaptation every new technique is bound to succeed, and even if it does not, then again the gain is greater than the loss. After all, how will we encourage our students to be innovative if we do not dare to use a new practice ourselves?
Has it become easier or more complicated to teach English these past decades?
The rapid proliferation of technological advancements has definitely changed to the core the reality of EFL classroom. On the one hand, it can be said that all the technological aids which are available nowadays provide endless opportunities for authentic material and alternative methods of teaching. On the other hand, it could be easy for the teacher to lose the focus or even feel frustrated by the abundance of means and methods. Therefore, it seems important to maintain a balance in introducing new technologies in the EFL classroom, use them in moderation and in order to serve specific purposes not just for the sake of incorporating them in our teaching.
What is one piece of advice that has been a beacon for your teaching over the years?
Being available for my students, listening to them and showing them multiple ways to improve. This is what motivates and inspires me, to know that I have helped them reach their full potential.
How important is CPD (Continuous Professional Development) in the teaching of languages?
New theories and models concerning the field of teaching emerge continuously. Neuroscience, Linguistics and Psychology are only some of the disciplines closely related to teaching and learning; a great number of studies which are conducted in these fields reveal new data concerning cognitive and psychological development, mindsets, student performance and motivation which no teachers of the 21st century can ignore. Thus, CPD is more than necessary in order for the teacher to be able to meet the demands of contemporary learners.
What do you find demotivating as far as teaching is concerned?
Demotivated teachers is what I find particularly sad and pessimistic in terms of teaching. A teacher that has lost interest in his/her students or is on the verge of a burn-out can be really frustrating.
What is one of the things you will not forget from past TG Conventions?
What impresses me the most every year in TESOL Conventions is this urge and enthusiastic spirit that I can discern in all participants' faces, both the attendees' and the presenters'; a great desire to learn and improve, to exchange ideas and socialise. This sense of togetherness is unique in TESOL Conventions.
IF you could offer one piece of advice to new Educators in the field of ELT what would it be?
Placing our students at the center of attention, detecting their needs and letting them be self-directed would be the one piece of advice, were I in a position to give one such. Assigning ourselves the role of the helper or the facilitator rather than the "know-it-all" authenticity, being flexible and open to criticism is the key for successful education. If I had to put it in three words these would be "Adjust- rethink- improve".