Random ideas for ELT people, plus guest blogs & travel notes

With Matt Ledding’s notion of ‘pie-chart nationality’ in mind, I’m pleased to welcome Aisha Ertugrul as my latest guest-blogger.

Aisha Ertugrul

Aisha describes herself as a Hungarian/Latvian/Turkish American from New York City. After working for ten years as a fashion designer in Manhattan, she was planning to re-locate to California with her family, but before doing that, they decided to take a vacation in Turkey. Eleven years later, they’re still there and Aisha is an English teacher.

“Teaching is my profession, passion and beloved hobby,” says Aisha. “Although I was quite successful as a designer, it was well-paid meaningless fluff stuff to me.”

I first noticed that Aisha had some pretty strong ideas about teaching and teacher training when she commented on Russell Stannard’s guest blog. You can read her comment here: http://bit.ly/mhej7X

If you want to find out more about Aisha’s pie-chart nationality, read her comment on Matt Ledding’s blog – http://bit.ly/kxvhl4

Aisha’s post contains some quite trenchant ideas about the state of education in Turkey, so I’ll be especially interested in responses from Turkish readers. However, the ideas expressed here probably resonate for educators in many other countries, so please let’s hear what you think about them, too.

Now I know why I never learned how to snowboard

 

We had taken a few lessons with an instructor on Mt. Uludağ many years ago, when my husband decided we could continue to practice on our own. My husband and daughter had no trouble and were soon improving their skills. I, on the other hand, gave up after three days and a risky fall. My son preferred to ski, which was fine, because he still needed practice with that.

 It’s a pity I gave up, because snowboarding is really more my style; it was a missed opportunity of swaying movements, a freer feeling, a hipper crowd, and much cooler clothing.

My instructor was great and had a lot of charisma. What was I thinking?!? I was thinking that what was good for my husband and daughter must be good enough for me. After failing, I was thinking it was personal; I lacked the talent, the ability, the drive and saw too much of a risk.

As I plan my objectives for the first time as an in-service teacher trainer for my school, I realize that what I needed then was more lessons with my instructor, lightly holding on to my fingertips, supporting me, as he did, down the steep slope, until I too was ready to go it alone.

 Conferences, seminars, workshops

In Turkey, there’s a wonderful array of useful, inspiring conferences. For us, they are like the TED Talks of ELT. Many teachers are open to new ideas and new strategies and they readily use and expand on these ideas. They are the gifted and high achievers. They are doing their utmost, not only by not teaching the way they were taught, but also by teaching themselves how to use technology.

Still, even with excellent training sessions, there are many who don’t look favorably on training, and when polled, a majority of teachers say they don’t want it offered. It is this group that intrigues me. Where have we failed them?

Here are some quotes from teachers who didn’t want training sessions:

“Training doesn’t matter; we don’t even have enough time to finish the course book.”

“Training sessions feel like flipping TV channels with a remote. Before you get a chance to process, the next one is upon you.”

“It was a good training session but I can’t understand the hack* or how to add links.“

*Gmail hack: a cheat to add users to a blog  (a heck of a hack for a beginner)

“I never get much out of going to conferences. Oh, you do? Well you’re lucky.”

 Three basic groups of teachers

There are those who…

1              want to, and can further develop on their own (my husband and daughter)

2              want to, but can’t without more support (like me)

3              have their hands full with the basics (my son)

Outside factors

1    The societal norms of the country

Education in Turkey is in a constant state of flux, a place where students of all levels are taught mostly through a teacher-directed, spoon-fed, memorization-based system that caters to the multiple-choice, ‘high stakes’ exams.

  • Education is centrally controlled by the ministry.
  • There is little accountability for quality of education.
  • 43/100 is a passing grade.
  • An average student is tested more than fifty times a year
  • Reading is not a strong part of the culture. Many teachers don’t read after graduation.
  • Many universities focus on theory.
  • Salaries are low, and therefore so is motivation.
  • Public schools have weak English programs. Interestingly, the Ministry of Education has publicized its plans to import forty thousand native speakers to go into the classroom. The project will run for five years at an estimated cost of 1.5 billion Turkish Lira (nearly a billion US dollars). What will happen remains to be seen, but at least we can see they are thinking about English, (if not reflecting on what went wrong in the first place.)

2         The conditions and realities in their institutions

Teacher training, either sparingly or heavily dosed, has a minimal effect on closed-door culture schools that are highly test-driven, and full of ‘flavors of the month,’ and mandates fed top down. Therefore, feeling a need to transform or improve teaching is quickly diminished under the weight of reality.

  • Peer and developmental observations are uncommon.
  • A course book capitalism exists where books are frequently discarded for the “Gotta have it cause it’s shiny and new” versions.
  • Technology is sought after but can sit unplugged or be ineffectively used due to lack of training.

Creating a ripple effect wide enough to reach students

After a training stint, I spent two months of my summer vacation mining through a self hosted WORDPRESS blog and if it wasn’t for Steve Neufeld, out of the goodness of his heart, helping me all the way from Cyprus through cyberspace, I would have given up, thinking that all the problems I was having were of my doing, and not the kinks and bugs of the platform.

As teacher trainers and developers, we need to impress upon top school administrators that “hop in, hop out” training sessions won’t do. In-service training is essential. It has the potential to cater to all three categories of teachers, taking into account the restrictions they face in their perspective institutions.

The training support should be focused on a few carefully assessed crucial topics, and provide ongoing training throughout the year. We can help teachers see a legitimate purpose for the training, holding on to their fingertips; supporting them down the slippery slope of their own development, continuing our support still, as they seamlessly integrate it into their present syllabus and other teacher responsibilities, till they’re ready to go at it on their own.

Only through time well spent building relationships between us, planting the seeds of motivation, establishing an open school culture, and essentially teachers seeing the value added to their students, will training become a need, and be transferred into teachers’ day-to-day instruction. They will then be open to new opportunities in training. The ripple we create will have a wider effect, reaching our true destination, impacting the student.

They’ll be ‘stoked’.

*I’ve touched on a just a few areas. What are some of your insights on teacher development in Turkey?

Comments on: "Guest post 11-15 – Aisha Ertugrul – Now I know why I never learned how to snowboard" (31)

  1. Hi Aishia,

    I have noticed many of the same things as you in my experience in Turkey. There are plenty of seminars and conferences organised but whenever we are encouraged to go to one, I hear many colleagues saying “but that’s not really relevant to us” or “nice topic, but what will we get out of a one hour session?”

    Then of course, there is the question of time – either no time for teacher development or no time to apply different ideas in class due to the next test being just round the corner. That leads to a heavily grammar-focused system with little time allowed for or importance attached to developing communicative skills. A shame.

    So, what to do about it? There’s little that can be done about the exam-driven system without major policy change at the top so it’s best to focus on reaching the teachers for now.🙂 As you suggest, focusing on a few essential topics for teacher development would be a good start – topics relevant to the individual school’s context and based on the teachers’ needs and input (hmm, almost sounds like a dogme approach, doesn’t it?) I also believe that having in-house workshops run by the teachers themselves offers a great step forward. After all, who knows the context better than the teachers who work in it?

    Beyond that, I try to focus on self-development and in recent workshops I’ve given within my own organisation, I’ve been encouraging teachers to use Twitter, read blogs or start blogging themselves as ways to connect and share with a wider community of practice.

    I sincerely hope one day the importance placed on exams and test results here declines to allow more room for developing skills and language use. Until then… idare ederiz!

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Dave,

      another sound of hammer hitting nail on head, and not just for the Turkish situation. ‘no time for teacher development or no time to apply different ideas in class due to the next test being just round the corner.’

      You said it all in one half-sentence!😛

    • Aisha Ertugrul said:

      Hi Dave!

      Isn’t there a way to work within the system? Could the exams in school be made a bit more holistic maybe? Would that help? There is a tendency to think the students are all little English teachers in the making and therefore can absorb as so.

      Perhaps an overdose of creativity, critical thinking, and communicative tasks as a panacea?

  2. Great post Aisha – how nice it’s been to read my own thoughts!

    I’m neither Turkish nor I longer reside there. However, having spent three years in Istanbul and being surrounded by a bunch of Turkish friends (most of whom are teachers) I think I have the right to (finally) express my opinion about the state of education in Turkey.

    As you have written there is a big difference between state and private schools. There seems to be one thing that unfortunately links them – the spoon feeding. I taught wonderful, inquisitive, smart six and seven year olds and observing how they were slowly losing the ability of free thinking was the saddest thing ever. Tasks involving using imagination or guessing were almost always bound to failure – the students were simply not used to doing that at all.

    Teacher training? Sure. There are tons of conferences in Istanbul every year and it seems like WOW, Turkish teachers are so eager to learn! But are they really? I think organizing conferences by private educational institutions has become a bit of a fad in TR. It looks good, people are impressed so why not?
    Out of the around 20 English teacher in my former workplace two (including me) were looking forward to the grand ELT conference my school organized. Why so few? It was at the weekend, lasted all day long and people, well, simply didn’t care. But as the attendance was mandatory, they had to participate. The most often heard opinion about TT and conferences was ‘We don’t need them. We can’t use what we learn about with our students anyway.’

    Is the system to blame? I think so. It all seems to be a vicious circle.

    I remember being asked to re-do exams for my students as a few of them failed. I remember being asked to change the students’ grades so that the parents (who pay the money for their kids’ education) would be happy. You and everyone who has ever worked in the private sector in Turkey knows that this is common practice.
    Teaching, for many teachers, is just a job. Why bother?

    Someone, around a year ago, wrote something about what happens if you rock the boat too much in Turkey. I did conferencing, in-service TT, blogging and more – all that for self-development which, in due course, should become beneficial for my students and the school I worked for. And where am I now? In Spain.
    That is yet another example.

    Gosh, I could write a book about it but guess I’m getting too negative.

    All in all, it seems that the change is on the way which is fantastic news🙂 I had the pleasure to meet some really awesome Turkish educators and hope that what they’ve initiated will bear fruit soon!

    The day that the ministry decides to get rid of these horrible books that are used in state schools will be the day I’ll open a bottle of champagne – hope it comes soon!

    Cheers!

    Anita (missing Istanbul terribly BTW🙂 )

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Hi Anita,

      great to hear from you again.

      In case this sounds like a Turkey-shoot (dreadful pun), I’d like to reiterate that Aisha’s original thoughts, and the additional ones from you and Dave, resonate with me after conversations all over the world, particularly the motivation problem for teachers who already have busy lives.

    • Aisha Ertugrul said:

      “And where am I now? In Spain.”

      Very funny Anita!

      Well, I hope you made your mark before you left–If not, please come back:))

  3. There are many similarities between Turkey and Mexio.
    -Education is centrally controlled by the ministry.
    -There is little accountability for quality of education.
    -Reading is not a strong part of the culture. Many teachers don’t read after graduation.
    -Many universities focus on theory.
    -Peer and developmental observations are uncommon.
    -A course book capitalism exists. (Oh, does it ever!)
    -Technology is sought after but can sit unplugged or be ineffectively used due to lack of training.

    As teacher trainers and bloggers, I believe that we hold the key to making grassroots changes that WILL make a ripple effect. I have been promoting blogging in my teacher training classes with marvelous results: some of teachers have started to use class blogs with their students in private schools, something unknown before in my area.

    I teach in a university and have just started incorporating blogging into my courses. My students do not enjoy blogging at first, but as they practice with more fun applications they become enthusiast. Check out our class blog at http://teachingknowledge.wordpress.com.

    Check out the cluster maps of any big blogger….and the majority of blog responses come from countries where literacy is promoted…cultures are based on reading and writing, not on oral traditions.

    It’s food for thought. Ellen in Mexico

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Hi ‘I can do this’!

      I appreciate that even though you have a class blog, you may want to stay anonymous when you make comments, and that isn’t a problem. However, if you want to surface for a while and write a guest blog for me, that would be great. Something about the situation for Mexican teachers would be great.

      AND….

      … as a course-book writer by profession, I really would like to hear more about ‘course-book capitalism.’🙂

      If you’re interested in writing something, email me at kenwrite@btinternet.com

    • Aisha Ertugrul said:

      Hi Mexico!

      I wholeheartedly agree with what you said, “As teacher trainers and bloggers, I believe that we hold the key to making grassroots changes that WILL make a ripple effect.”

      Isn’t grassroots the catalyst for most real, massive, lasting change?

      You do have to be a bit of a cowboy or ‘vaquero’ to be able to see it through.

  4. Hello Aisha’cim,

    I totally agree with you and with Dave, and with Anita. Having survived the ‘exam-driven system’ I hate being test oriented. Students in Turkey can’t enjoy ‘learning’ and teachers always need to rush from one topic to another as there is always too much to cover but not enough time, which results in spoon-feeding (easier and less time consuming), use of L1, and grammar-based teaching. In such a system, it’s not surprising that there isn’t much room for ‘personal/professional development.’ Why would the teachers want to attend a 3-day conference and spend their weekend away if there isn’t a test at the end? I know I’m moving fast but I think these two are related and that’s why getting a certificate of attendance is crucial; just like students, teachers need to have a proof of their accomplishments.

    I want to give an example from my own context in order to make the relationship between these two clearer. At my school, students are forced to attend a minimum number of workshops so they are there because they have to be. Therefore, they just sit there and do nothing during the entire workshop (sometimes they don’t even know what the workshop is on). However, I don’t blame the students for that, but the teachers. Forcing someone to do something will do no good. But unfortunately, this isn’t surprising at all because usually teachers are also forced to attend a minimum number of conferences/workshops every academic year. What else can we expect from a teacher who has suffered because of similar systems?

    The only solution, I think, for these two problems is to get rid of bureaucracy and give everone the freedom to choose whatever they want to do. So, no more university entrance exams or mandatory conferences. I believe we will be better off on our own.

    Cheers,
    Deniz

    • Aisha Ertugrul said:

      Nice to see you here Deniz. It’s been a long time…

      Your new blog looks great!

  5. having been here for 6 years I can certainly adhere to much of which Aisha Hnm has stated. However, it must be pointed out that many TEFL teachers here have only their origin as a pass to teach here and quite often that is all that is needed. With the exception of a few Schools most are using outdated and stale ELT Books and that is it really.

    One other point. Regarding the incentive the Government talks about bringing in 40,000 or so native teachers in, and also the concept includes English Cafes. Well unfortunately like many funded schemes with handouts from the EU, they never see the light of day. I mean, how can you have an English-style Cafe if bacon is pretty much banned. Sport coverage is banned. And of course free press and media.

  6. Aylin said:

    In a system where a native speaker counts more valuable and efficient just because he is native no matter what educational background he comes from I am not a little bit surprised to see so many demotivated teachers. Other than this I believe all of us have similar problems as mentioned in the above posts. I feel I am lucky to work in an environment where my colleagues are open to new ideas, methods. Who should we blame for the overwhelming work load which is nothing but paper work? Don’t we spend our precious time doing things that a secretary could do instead of planning our lessons. Even under these circumstances I am still optimistic… Is it because teaching is not only my job but my all time favorite hobby like Aisha?..

  7. Yabancı in Turkey said:

    Wow Aisha! The attitude of the teacher examples in your post is alive and thriving at my school. I notice many feel repressed by the educational system, either locally or at a national level–Turkish and English employees.

    The journey begins from within. I completely agree with your comment that we must be the example for others and prove that believing in yourself and your ideas is valuable to you as well as others. All we can do is our best and for teachers that means utilizing the resources and ideas of now–not 20, 50, or even 100 years ago!

    “Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our greatest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” (Mary Ann Williamson)

    Yabancı in Turkey

  8. Hi Aisha,

    Good to see you still fighting the good fight🙂

    My perspective is more from the organisational side of things. Sadly, what I have found is that organisations do not take PD and training seriously at all. Training sessions are squeezed into the most inconvenient time slots possible or at times when teachers need to play other roles (like mothers and fathers). With this type of “non-leadership” at the top – it’s hardly surprising that we see a significant trickle-down effect (of apathy) to the teacher level.

    Even though many organisations openly recognize the need for innovation, creativity and training – and openly proclaim their commitment to lifelong learning and the capacity-building of their staff – they remain unwilling to move from the “lip-service” that characterizes so much of what we do in our so-called “learning organisations”. The notion of “our people being our greatest asset” is more than a “neat phrase” tagged onto a mission or vision statement – statements that remain little more than wall decoration.

    Schools, colleges and universities hardly ever get serious about investigating and meeting the learning needs of staff and teachers – running a “PD survey” and not doing anything about it is hardly a quality process. Abdicating responsibility for teacher training to publishing companies willing to run “freebies” is also not a process a quality assurance agency would support (is it?). Quality begins when we invest in people – and when we walk-our-talk.

    Yes, it is true that today we have more conferences than we can humanly attend (if you live in Istanbul, Ankara or Izmir) but the sad truth is that many conferences are set up and run just so organisations can be “seen” to be setting up and running a conference. Many of them are little more than marketing or PR events – even if a “big name” repeats the same old rubbish. The value-added of these events is barely considered (let alone “measured”) and the only success criterion seem to be “how many people attended”. These events cost a great deal of money – just imagine what could have been done with the funds if they had been spent more wisely.

    That having been said if our organisations, as appears to be the case, are happy to promote the obsession with test results and the growth of the examocracy that is Turkey today – what do we really need professional development and training for🙂

    T..

  9. Pffff Aisha, you’ve described a situation that applies to Hungary as well. Except for the ‘native teacher import’.

    Shocking. I wonder how many other countries are in the same shoes. Time to go barefoot?

    The majority of teachers tend to think they have to train students to learn the language in exactly the same way as they used to (spoonfed, no learner autonomy whatsoever), no other option for them, no urge, no obligation :S

    • Aisha Ertugrul said:

      Jó reggelt bajtársak!

      Actually when you consider how far these countries have come in such a short time span it really is quite remarkable. These are relatively new democracies.

  10. Aisha Ertugrul said:

    Clearly understanding the problem is vital to finding real solutions.

    Let’s try to come up with some more solutions. Dave talked about teachers giving workshops in their own school. It’s essential to find your ‘experts’ in your own institution.

    What about an induction program for new teachers created by a group of mentor teachers? Taking someone under your wing?

    After observing a class of mine blogging, a student teacher from a top public university asked me once if I would come and do a workshop at her school. Volunteering to help develop future English teachers seems like a good way to speed up change.

    I truly believe teachers and teacher leaders everywhere can find ways to improve learning, yet still work within a system. Our learners are counting on us to meet this challenge.

  11. Baiba said:

    Dear Aisha, I salute the Latvian part in you (which is an amazing story!) and thanks for the great post here!

    Baiba from Latvia
    @baibbb

  12. Anastasia said:

    Aisha,
    thank you for your post and a great wave of opinions from teachers working in TC which provided me with an insider view of the edu system there. I worked for a brief period of time in a dersane and remember a “course plan” I was given with the exact amount of material to be covered in each lesson. That certainly put some pressure on me as a teacher, esp. when I was behind proposed schedule. Though I did not work long enough in TC to fully see and feel system’s faults, which is good for me I guess as I have only positive memories of my students, I think a lot can be done locallly by local teachers who are passionate about their job, promote prof development within your school, inspire your colleagues first, start the ripple effect =) This way the difference will be felt soon.
    I attended my 1st ELT conf and was, actually AM still, very excited about all the ideas I learnt from it, so I shared them with a friend of mine who has classes daily (I only teach on weekends) and instead of seeing her motivated and inspired, she talked skeptically about using everything I was telling her about. “It’s just a theory”, she said, “you can’t use it in real teaching”. Frustrated, and part-time I am, thus lacking experience in other teacher’s eyes (but not the MOTIVATION!), I realized how hard it is to make your colleagues believe in their impact.

    Ken, thanks for another thought-provoking guest-blogger! =)

  13. gita assefi said:

    Wow!!! What a great guestblogger and what a great post. I, not only enjoyed reading Aysha’s ideas, but also read all the comments that all dear teachers left and it all cater to the good cause and this makes one happy, hopeful, and motivated. A lot was said. Although it can be hard to believe that one day we can impliment an ideal educational system in our schools with all those rules and bureaucracy but still, as Aysha said, why not create a catalyst for a massive change?

    It is good to see a brave open-minded group of teachers making lots of effort to make a ripple change. I don’t know what to add except reminding all of us that we are really valuable and what we need is sufficient time, motivation and respect for us as not only teachers, but also human beings. These blogs serve as a vehicle to convey the messages, to discuss, and find solutions for hopefully a better, happier and more beneficial ways to success. There is always an easy solution for even a seemingly big problem. Empathy is a good quality and better than that is honesty. Two qualities that we should be well-equipped with as we are the examples for the little ones that we are educating. Cheers to all-:)))

  14. Ah – Aisha, talk about rocking the boat … Like you, I came here more than a decade ago and simply stayed. Turkey is a beautiful country full of wonderful warm-hearted people. It’s impossible not to like it here. That’s why we both stay I guess, but yes – the education system here really leaves a lot to be desired …

    I am a teacher but I am also a parent and I would like to offer you my views on this topic from the point of view of a parent first. I have a son in the 7th grade and a daughter in pre-school.

    * In Turkey you need a University Degree to enjoy a Middle Class life-standard. Without a degree you’ll most probably never own your own home or car, travel abroad or consume any other “luxuries” for that matter.
    * To get into a University is very difficult. To get into an Ivy League one, near impossible. Candidates have to sit the so-called YGS and LYS exams and less than half end up qualifying. LESS THAN HALF.
    * To gain University entrance is almost unthinkable for those who haven’t studied at so-called “good” High Schools. In order to get into one of those, you have to score high at the SBS exam(s) you take in Middle School.

    To a parent (including me) success on those exams is therefore a matter of life or death. Whatever school can guarantee results wins. I am willing to pay an arm and a leg as well as accept any teaching method / philosophy of education as long as it serves to secure my child’s future. Aren’t you?

    However, I’m also a teacher and I readily admit that I hate preparing kids for an exam I haven’t written myself. I especially hate it when I see that the test isn’t particularly good and that it doesn’t test the kind of knowledge or skill I value…

    Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why Turkish teachers reject training? They just don’t see the point? They already know what they have to do. As long as the test doesn’t change, they won’t either.

    Also, there’s the element of “force” that has already been mentioned here. Forcing people to give up their precious free time, their weekends and evenings doesn’t really put them in a good mood for learning. I can certainly understand that. After all, we (most of us anyway) work to live – we do not live to work. Teachers have to be given time off their regular duties to train and develop, it has to be an investment made by the school – not another chore demanded of already overworked (and often underpaid) teachers.

    Another problem, and I hope I’m not stepping on too many toes now, is that many (not all) of the so-called “teacher trainers” I have met in Turkey are substandard. Many of them have never ever worked as “real” teachers in “real” schools – yet they feel entitled to give all sorts of advice on how “to engage young learners”. These people come from Universities, Language Centers, Publishing Companies (!) or Evening Schools (called “Dershane” in Turkey) and they seem far removed from the day to day challenges that real teachers in Turkey have to face. Sometimes their English leaves rather a lot to be desired, too. (Check out some of their blogs and you’ll see what I mean). So, why should teachers listen to them?

    That brings me to another thing that demotivates teachers in Turkey, and especially Turkish English teachers; the fact that any “bum” off the street with the correct passport but no teaching qualifications whatsoever can land a better job and make more money than they can. Why struggle to better themselves if a high-school drop out taxi-driver (with a British accent) will be considered superior to them anyway? To add insult to injury these people (not all of them taxi-drivers of course) sometimes become “teacher trainers” and start giving advice …

    I know I’m very lucky to work at a really good school that only hires qualified foreign teachers (teachers who are actually qualified to teach their subject in schools in their own countries), pays well and treats all of its faculty (Turkish and foreign) with respect. Because I work where I work I have the energy and desire to participate in discussions such as the one I’m involved in here and to blog and to both share what I know as well as learn from my peers and from whatever seminars and workshops I find interesting. However, I can very well understand and sympathize with the attitudes of the teachers you described in your post Aisha.

    Something is wrong with the system here and it has to be solved top down. Individual idealism and the odd “good school” aren’t really going to change anything. Let’s hope that when Turks go to vote this Sunday, they’ll vote for a party that values education and is committed to change. THAT could change things!

    :)Karin

  15. Training would be nice and we could get our hearts trained out, but it is a two-way street with students. They need to have the motivation to learn from trained teachers for the training to make sense. 43/100 is a passing grade??!

  16. Thank you everyone!

    Lessons taken from our commentors so far:

    From Deniz – a lighter load, a more educationally sound yearly plan which uncovers the curricular goals. Deeper thinking by administrations so that institutional mandates reach the aims by holding up in reality, not just on paper.

    Deniz and Tony- the timing of when development opportunities are given is crucial

    Tony – the need for institutions to start to invest in the teachers as well as PR.

    Anastasia- the reality that showing is more persuasive than telling

    Gita- the power we yield in being able to motivate each other

    Coffee Addict- the need to empathize to understand: the life changing effect the state exams have from the parent and student’s perspective.

    Kevin- the need to include more than the normal dose of motivation in our classes to balance out the student’s exhaustion from their attendance at afterschool study centers. The need for individual schools, teachers, and students to start to recite an internal mantra that 60? is a healthier personal passing grade goal.

  17. Aisha Ertugrul said:

    Ozlem,

    I really felt your despair in your comment. My heart goes out to you. What a devoted teacher! You take on PD, AND you PAY for it yourself, And you are required to MAKE UP all the classes you missed!

    Keep doing what you are doing but aim for the a directors position somewhere. Although I think you would never want to give up being teacher for an admin position, Turkey does need devoted teachers like you in a position of some power.

    There are schools that give PD and support you by funding the PD of your choice. Ask around. Some schools have a lot of money, and some just don’t.

    Thank you for sharing and reminding everyone that the heart of a teacher never surrenders.

  18. Hi Aisha. I think I did the CELTA course with you in Istanbul in 2000. Does that sound familiar?

  19. Penelope Weaver said:

    Hello Aisha,

    I want to THANK YOU for describing that BIG, FAT, and VERY PINK elephant storming (or should I say snowboarding?) though the halls of every school I’ve ever worked in. Yes, we all nod our heads to the latest “professional development ” technique or guru, but is it really going to work for us? Because for it to work, it has to go beyond that photocopied handout that inevitably gets tossed into your cupboard with all the other great, albeit dusty, handouts. One might feel a bit guilty looking at that pile, much like the way you felt about not being able to sway down the mountain in cool snowboarding clothes. It looks so easy and fun when experienced people talk about how to be a better teacher and offer a richer learning experience for the student. Thats precisely why it is so easy to give up at the slightest mishap when we try out these great ideas on the mountain that is our classrooms. Because we are shown the picture perfect destination, not the strategies for dealing with the bumps on the way.
    So what does this all mean in real life? Well, just what you said…”on going training throughout the year.” Woo hoo! You mean that the training session is not just a quick fix, but an in-depth intensive (dare I say it?) curriculum. And THAT my friend is the pink elephant in the room. The notion that we too are learners who learn the same way as our students. With extensive exposure, opportunity to practice, recycling in a variety of formats and with needs analysis.
    That last part you mention like this, “carefully assessed crucial topics”. My lord, I can’t believe someone in the teacher training profession has addressed this issue. That might as well be the polka dot nail polish on the elephants nails. After all, maybe I am a do-it-yourself type of person who doesn’t need the extra support (like your hubby) or maybe I am a new teacher and too busy with the basics to go further (like your skiing son) or maybe I am a teacher like yourself…needing more opportunities to practice and for a longer time. Or maybe I am ALL THOSE TEACHERS at different times depending on the topics…how will the current one-size-fits-all style of professional developement address my needs? Only assessing the needs of teachers first can teacher training even begin to be meaningful. Then, like you say we have to allow the training to continue over a year so we can really put it into practice with all its ups and downs.

    In short, all I have left to say is AMEN SISTAH! If teacher training was like you say then
    I sure as hell would not give up the pursuit of becoming the best teacher/learner that I can be.

    Man am I STOKED that the pink paint washes away under the snow!

    • Ken Wilson said:

      Penelope,

      brilliant, heart-felt comment. Do you want to expand on your ideas about the futility of in-service training in a guest blog for me? I think this is turning into a very large elephant…😛

      Ken

  20. Great insight and great voice.
    “Or maybe I am ALL THOSE TEACHERS at different times depending on the topics.”- Great point Penelope. I didn’t think of that.

    Looking forward to your guest post on any topic.

  21. Gorgeousely I would like to inform you that in academic community discusssion is the back bone particularly in ELT,non the less,you presented a superb presentation in Sudan but my contrary idea is about to refute by using pedagogical evidence not by mocking and describing me as noisy voice .All in all, you propose ice breakers tecniques as amethod of teaching regarding lack ofcivic eduaction coping the notion from desuuggestopedia method claiming that is a technique of teaching with laughter , What a hell!!!!!!!!!! I am not noisy voice but I want to learn!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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