Goodness where to start? I was tagged by Tyson Seburn which is actually very sad. Sad? Well, if you think about it, it’s pretty cool to get ‘tagged’ by someone in Canada, but sad that this bloke who I find very interesting, amusing and innovative is so far away and I’ve never met him. Anyway, below are the questions I got from Tyson and my answers:
1. You have 5 minutes to rescue one of your blog posts from oblivion. Which do you pick? Why?
I actually don’t think I’d save any. I’m not terribly good at blogging, don’t keep up with it as I’m very busy and generally don’t feel I have much to say. I’d rather hope to be able to save “the next one” which has got to better than the last – as I hope I am continually learning and improving…..
2. How did teaching become (part of) your career?
I think I may actually once have written something about that….I was looking into retail management options during my final year of uni and heard of a cross-European project looking for a guinea pig. It sounded interesting so I applied…. and I’m still doing the cross-European thing today. I did my teacher training as a combo between the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands, taught in all three and am still in the Netherlands.
3. Aside from weather-related impressions, how does Canada come across to you? If you’re Canadian, how do you think we come across to others?
This is one I can answer without even having to think. I first encountered “Canada” at university where we had an exchange with Dukes and, therefore, a number of Canadians wandering about. I shared a house with a couple of exchange postgrads. I instantly ‘fell in love’ with the humour – these guys sounded American-ish (give or take a few almost Scottish vowel sounds) but had a thoroughly British style no-nonsense down to earth approach to life. I hope I don’t offend anyone here – this was my opinion as a young 20-ish under/post-grad. My brother then set off for a squash tournament in Vancouver (he represented Scotland in those days) and came back with photos and stories which made me even more determined to go see the place for myself one day. A few years ago I headed in an RV from New York up via Niagara to Toronto, Montreal and Quebec (always wanted to see the mix of the two language frontiers) and discovered that Canadians were the way I had remembered – warm, open, friendly. And the country(side) itself – wow!
4. What career path could you have easily gone down had teaching not worked out?
Well, I spent my student summers working on a campsite in the south of France and after finishing uni got offered the management of a site. It was a job I had always loved but seeing as I was living in Paris at the time it struck me as a terribly solitary position for half the year for someone in their early twenties with no partner or kids. It was certainly a “left or right” turning point in my life. I opted for “right” but it really was a coin toss.
5. What characteristic of your Chinese zodiac animal sounds like you?
My sign is the monkey which is said to be someone in need of fun – a bit of a party animal. Sadly I see very little of that. In fact I think that teaching has made me this way as in my student days I did love a bit of a bash. Now, being surrounded by people all day (classes of kids of all ages, colleagues, loud bells announcing lessons) I crave a bit of peace and quiet in the evenings and weekends. The monkey is also said to be a good listener – that is something to which I aspire, I think I manage ok but there’s lots of room for improvement.
6. What do you do vastly differently now than when you were a new teacher?
Gosh – so much! I now ‘see’ the kids. As a NQT I worried about lesson plans, timing, activating didactics, subject knowledge etc etc, now my main concern is getting to know the kids/students in front of me in the hope of being able to help them achieve their goals, not my own. The transition to being a Mum has also made a huge difference; it not only gives you a certain ‘authority’ but I think also more empathy.
7. What book have you wanted to read but have never gotten around to it?
For years I planned on reading Notre Dame (Hugo) and was so thrilled when I actually read the entire book. It’s such a great story though the first hundred pages are heavy detail. I still plan on reading the Verdriet van België (Claus) but have still not got past the first chapter….sigh. There are just so many other books, articles, theses which I allow to get in the way.
8. Out of these options, the best class size is… 1 student, 5 students, 13 students, 24 students, 50+ students.
24. My average class is around 30 students which is simply too many. I’ve never liked one on one and five doesn’t allow for much group work. 13 would be ok, 50+ only works in a ‘lecture’ style situation if you really want to let each student know you’ve seen him/her.
9. Does your middle name have some meaningful significance, if you have one?
My middle name is Alix and is simply a name my parents liked.
10. You will give a workshop to your colleagues. What would you feel comfortable leading a session on?
This is something I’ve done fairly regularly. My ‘go to’ workshop is on creative writing with music and images.
11. How do you feel about carpeted rooms in your house?
Carpeted stairs would not be a bad idea – I have three heavy-footed teens! But other than that I prefer stones/wood and rugs.
So normally now it would be my turn to tag some folk and to ask the necessary questions. A simple search has shown me that all of the English language bloggers I know/follow have already been tagged. In light of the fact that it is now, for most, a busy time of year, I thought I would simply ask some questions and see if anyone wants to answer via twitter or right here. Incidentally, for a bit of fun, I really do recommend everyone reads the blog written by invaderStu who has a particularly amusing way of looking at expat life in the Netherlands!
My questions, therefore:
- Are you a dog or a cat person? And what does that say about you?
- Inductive, deductive or a mix?
- How many academic articles do you read per day/week/month/year/decade…..(answer as appropriate) and which one has had the most impact on you?
- What is your signature dish?
- If you absolutely had to use a course book for teaching English, which one would you use?
- Can you keep secrets or can everybody read you like an open book?
- Everyone has a book in them – what is yours?
- If you had the time, money and support – what would your research topic be?
- Which band would you like to perform in your back garden?
- What famous person do you wish you could teach/have taught English?
- Which is your ‘special’ word you wish could be included in every course book / dictionary?