by Donna Hutchinson
London based TEFL Teacher, @donnatamara
Last weekend I lost my virginity… My EFL conference virginity, mind! I must admit, it did make me feel more like a proper teacher to be among so many peers. On an early Saturday (yes, Saturday) morning, I convened with a few of my colleagues at Canterbury Christ Church University to attend workshops run by the likes of Nick Bilborough, Tessa Woodward and my headline act, Jeremy Harmer and others. Each of the workshops I attended were practical, very useful and for me, a very interesting experience. I shan’t be forgetting it any time soon, for a number of reasons…
Upon arrival, I received a free bag containing catalogues, a timetable of the day’s events, etc… I also had to pick up my name badge and certificate which did, however, read ‘Donna Huthinson’ and ‘Donna Hathison’ respectively. This provoked a few laughs when I shared photographic evidence on Facebook.
My first workshop!
After navigating myself to the correct room, I settled with a couple of other colleagues to experience my first workshop. In fact, the word ‘workshop’ kind of scared me. I was hoping it wouldn’t involve me having to do much more other than sit and listen. I understand how ironic this is considering that on a daily basis, I ask my students to be as interactive as is humanly possible. My fear was soon eased when really all that we had to do was a bit of pair work although I think I might have clung to one of the guys that was there with me. It was really cool to experience the tasks as the student, I really do feel this is the best way to learn about new teaching techniques in order to be able to gauge whether they would be helpful for your students. This was the same for the workshop with Tessa Woodward. She went old school and just handed out blank pieces of paper for us to make notes on and for an hour and a half we took part in all of the tasks she had planned. I really enjoyed it and eventually piped up and involved myself more.
After I helped myself to more free sandwiches than I should’ve, it was time for the headline act, Jeremy Harmer. Yes, hand on my heart, I am a MASSIVE GEEK and I was excited for this part of my day. Many of the other teachers had already seen/met/fawned over “TEFL legend” Jeremy Harmer and some of them were a little blasé about it but not me, oh no. I might have kept it to myself but inside, I was excited and I wasn’t disappointed.
Despite the early morning, despite the fact that it was a Saturday, I’m glad that I was able to go and after the day was over, that evening, I wore my ‘lovegrammar.org’ bag on the train back to London Victoria with pride. I’m glad that these kinds of things are now available to me (via my school) and I suppose I’ve got over my fear of being an interactive student myself. For now.
Oh and I will say this, Jeremy Harmer asked if anyone in the room wrote a blog (because he does), I raised my hand and after his session was over we had a little chat about my blog and with any luck, he’ll look it over some time.
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