One thing about my personality is that I only happily do something when I have decided I have made the decision to do this or that. It frequently sends my partner into a fit of pique. Most recently she wanted me to try a sample on offer at Costco. I said no thank you. Then, a minute later, decided that I did in fact desire to try it. She looked at me with irritation and asked why I changed my mind. I looked back at her blankly. I didn’t know, I just changed my mind.
In relation to the above anecdote I have decided that I do want to respond to the “11 things” bloggy type dealio, but that I wanted to do so in my own way. It just wouldn’t be me if I just followed along. Far too boring.
That said, within this post there are 11 fact about me. In addition, I would like to keep with this blogs fine tradition of reflection and so will highlight a few of my reflections on 2013.
In accomplishing both of these tasks readers will also discover a few rebellious streaks in my usage of English (another recent blog topic making the rounds- @JosetteLB) – as well as rebellion in the classroom.
1- I am confident, except when I am not. Working through the fall of 2013 to complete an in depth, questioning questionnaire for a prospective fellowship for graduate school I found myself struggling. There were many questions asking me to describe this or that about my classroom, beliefs and history. When I am in the classroom I am confident. When I am speaking to other teachers about professional practice I feel confident. However, this application beset me with a lack of confidence. Memories of my timid youth flooded back to me. I didn’t particularly like it, and so am even happier with having made the tough decisions necessary to be able to attend my MA next year.
2- There is no right answer. This year I taught university level for the first time (previously at middle school). I have been constantly struck by students asking me, which is right? Most of the time the answer is in that wonderfully playful grey area that provides the English language the elasticity that has helped it morph as it spreads from one area to the next. My response? I won’t tell you. I will only tell you if I understand you or if I don’t understand you.
3- Along the lines of number 2, I haven’t given much guidance on spelling this year (I teach conversation classes, not writing). I’m not particularly bothered if someone writes realized or realised or reelized. Oh, and something that has continually confused my students this year is that when a pronoun is needed and gender of a single person is unknown I write/say “them” not he/she. Something to reflect on next year…is it better for my students for me to remain stridently myself and explain everyone expresses themselves how they like and if others understand then alls good? Or would it be better to adjust myself? Initially I lean towards the former, but I am sure there is plenty to recommend the latter (and I am sure @AnneHendler will inform me of them shortly).
4- It was a hard year. I struggled to adjust to a new school and environment. That struggle coincided with a temporary break from the community here in Korea that has served me so well. The fall semester was a dream semester. I was back in my blog/#keltchat/conference flow. A good lesson for the future. Stick with the people who inspire and keep me out of my ruts.
5- I make up words. I mix and match and mush them all together. I love it. I’ve met those who don’t. I follow my cardinal rule, if you understand me then I’m happy and if you don’t like it you can sod off. Same self reflective questions from number 3 here.
6- I am American and I habitually use British parlance. It began with my love of football (you kick a ball for 90 minutes how the hell is in NOT football?) It always bothers me when my students use soccer. American influence in the education system that I am sure irks a fair few British friends I have here.
7- I taught a special intensive course over 4 weeks in the summer. It was the closest I have come to what I believe “real” teaching is (Side note- I’ve no idea what “real” teaching is). It was a fantastic experience all around.
8- In an earlier reflective post this year I mentioned that the training I gave my dog mirrored some aspects of language teaching. I stand by that belief.
9- No reflection upon the year would be complete without recognizing how immense those in my life are in helping me succeed. There are too many to name here, but you know who you are. Thank you, so much, over and over again. Thank you.
And a special thank you to Tana Ebaugh, Michael Griffin and Josette LeBlanc for writing recommendations for me. They wrote amazing recommendations for me last year to help me become accepted to graduate school and they wrote me second ones this year to assist my bid to secure a fellowship to said graduate school. Your support has been immense. I will never forget it.
That about does it, save for answers to Anne Hendler’s questions.
1. I started my own lawn mowing business
2. my critical eye
6. human capacity to love
7. don’t have one.
8. Not necessarily educational, but it taught me something. by Mark Twain
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
9- I drove across the states sleeping at rest stops and eating chef boyardee out of the can when I was 18.
11- I read the economist cover to cover every week.