[I] Don’t resolve.

Just like Malu Sciamarelli this year I’m not writing resolutions.

I also feel significantly rebellious. Not much linguistically, but rather in regards to the perceptions about teaching I’m gathering from various sources online. Maybe this year I will have the will, spirit and intelligence potential to get a little closer to seeing the picture clearer, to having more understanding, to shaping understanding into thoughts which I’ll then learn, through practice that I’m planning, to put down as less confusing sentences. This is not a resolution as it is so tough to even promise it to myself.

I know I haven’t replied with due respect to all of the taggers for the 11 challenge. I mean to say I haven’t replied or reacted almost at all and only very few (=a couple of) people know why or have been informed that I care a lot about their tag. I use this chance to say so to all of the educators who thought of me in their hectic pre-NY time. Thank you, I appreciate the thought a lot and every tag I got gave me a reason to feel needed, if only for the challenge. As for the grounds of my denial, at the end of the year I had a sudden pang of self-reproach in egocentrism and this challenge did not look very helpful. However, RANDOM is one of my favorite English words, so if you read my posts which I might be writing this year with some new meaning for myself (explained a bit at the bottom of this post), you risk finding random facts about me. Let’s think of it as a really lame way to attract visitors, improve blog stats and also develop your readers’ observation skills. This is not a resolution because of the sheer meaning of “random”.

Unlike my ordinary self this year I cringed at the thought of and detested my routine of meticulously writing up a list (a format so much loved) of achievements of all kinds for the past year. Instead, I let the mind and pen loose which resulted in a one-page something. I didn’t press myself to structure that page and think thoroughly. I now can share with you a random achievement that has just sprung to my mind: I clarified some points regarding punctuation. However, I fear you may find examples of non-compliance to the rules in this very post and many others. It’s all the mind and pen on the loose. At this point I feel I can finally pull the post to the ELT side of it in an extremely random fashion and maybe question myself and you:

How important are the rules in the language we teach? This is actually a real question to you and I’d appreciate your ideas, which are surely better than mine.
I can say I will likely be very serious about spelling mistakes my students make. Pronunciation and twisting of basic grammar patterns make me almost shudder, too. I’m very demanding for ideas and their logics. I am not keen on excessive comma usage so typical of Russian students. And that’s may be it.
I think, I am sure, my being a “connected” teacher with quite a bit of various language exposure online has spoilt me. I’m more relaxed about certain things than I ever was, and that is especially obvious when I overhear some conversations in the staff room – and hold my tongue. I’m afraid this term in particular LAX has been the word to describe both language and discipline in my classes. This is not (though could be in fact) a resolution to do otherwise. But maybe something I would like to muse about: reasons, consequences, impact, for myself and my students.

And finally, there’s the idea which lands here from outer space of my mind.
What’s in a blog for a teacher? A million things depending on who the teacher is and what’s in their head. And possibly it is good if your view of what you need your blog for is strong and standing firm. And possibly it’s just about as good if your answer to the “why do I blog?” does not remain the same as you blog on. My current *momentary* view suggests this space is the space to talk for me. I’m sorry if it’s not always ELT-related (but you may also notice there is nothing in the title of the blog that hints at ELT). Now THIS is a resolution. This year, as I see it for myself now, my blog is to zoom in on some things and zoom out on others. I’ll bring in the focus or have it blurred. So maybe through the planned practice of conscientious reading, reflective thinking and steadfast writing I’ll be a bit more of the type of a teacher and a person I want to be.
You as my community are the source, nudge and support factor. So stay with me, please. Thank you.

Now this is almost over and for those who made it till the end there’s a prize. Last year I did resolve to read certain blogs – and without specifically remembering it I actually did just that (on almost, almost all of them)! A bit of an achievement, too.
Here’s the list of reading I’d include in 2014, in addition to those from 2013 which I am not going to desert.
Unwrapping the Education Box by Divya Madhavan
EFL Notes by Mura Nava
Authentic Teaching by Willy C. Cardoso
Livinglearning by Anne Hendler
AlienTeachers 2.0 by Alex Walsh
The Breathy Vowel by Alex Grevett
Lauraahaha by Laura Patsko
mikejharrison ESOL teacher by Mike Harrison
Anything from Chia Suan Chong that will maybe appear here or on the pages of ETprofessional.
And iTDi Blog quite obviously.

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7 thoughts on “[I] Don’t resolve.

  1. Dear Ann, I really appreciate your reflections, both personal and about your teaching practice. And thank you so much for putting my blog on your reading list this year. I’m flattered.
    In answer to your question about rules: I’m not sure where I stand. When I was a newer teacher, I was all for rules and accuracy. Then while I was studying my MA, getting involved with professional development and meeting you all on Twitter, and (perhaps most importantly) teaching in a different context with different goals I suddenly swung the other way – screw the rules as long as you can get your point across. And now I’m in the uncertain state of not knowing what balance of accuracy and fluency will best benefit my students. Is it enough to know the rules before you break them? How can I be convinced that they *do* know how to implement the rules?

    • annloseva says:

      Thanks Anne, it really is a pleasure to know my mostly night-time musings can be of some interest. Can’t resolve to comment on your posts but I’m just not too good at it. So let’s just see how things develop)

      As for your answer to my question, I’m really interested in the part you mention as most important. How did the context lead you to thinking of screwing the rules? And what is so special about this context?..But in general you see, Twitter and this online PD have also influenced the process.
      Getting the point across is such a tricky thing, right? It seems to come down to what you (=student) want/need to sound like. My university students are would-be scientists and naturally expectations differ from those of my private students my age who truly need English to get their message across in a range of situations abroad. Yet accuracy is not seen as a priority for any of these learner types. OR are they influenced by my relaxed approach in shaping their priorities? That is also my concern.

      I like your questions in the answer to my question. They made me remember myself in my Russian classes at school. There are plenty of rules to learn in the Russian language for Russian speakers. I gather it’ll be very realistic to say that the amount of Russian native speakers who have no problems with Russian is quite small. And in written Russian especially there’s very little space allowed for breaking these rules without looking ignorant (not so much in speaking but still very visible). I am not bragging but I rarely learnt any rules but rather felt how the language should work. Maybe this had a lasting impact on the rules and me, so I expect my students to just “feel the moment”. Which is of course not fair or right.

  2. kevchanwow says:

    Hi Ann,

    Another thoughtful and thought provoking post. I’m with Anne. I have no clear idea of what it would mean to strike a good balance between giving students room to explore and communicate and at the same time provide the feedback they need to improve their accuracy. But I would guess that it is much more a moment by moment decision that we get more comfortable with the longer we teach.

    I think Paul Nation might be right when he says it’s about keeping track of the how you use your time in the classroom and making sure that there is a balance between input and output, fluency and form. 25% of time should be set aside for fluency activities in which the rules might be set aside. But 25% of time should also be reserved for activities and engagement with the language which helps direct the students’ attention to form and is very much about rules. Of course that still leaves 50% of the time in which to feel totally lost. There I think we need to know our students and find out what kind of feedback they are hoping to get.

    Sorry to be of such little help. But I’m happy to keep thinking about it.


    • annloseva says:

      Hi Kevin (what do the rules say about the comma here?)

      I like the moment by moment solution and then if it’s correct and you see it working for yourself I’ll simply need to work a little longer.

      The percentages are interesting and I don’t think I am to argue with Paul Nation. They do look too even and ideal to me though or I am terrible at classroom time management (which I am). Sometimes I find myself wishing for a more rigid and clear structure where I won’t even have the odd 50%.
      I wonder about you. Knowing this piece of information do you do this way? Do you keep it in mind while planning or teaching?

      Thinking together is the type of help I value most. So thanks.

  3. Hi Ann,

    First of all, thank you for the kind inclusion among the others in your ‘reading list’.

    I’ll confess that a lot of what you say about blogging, in particular in its focus for the blogger and the motivation to keep going, chimes with me. I’ve definitely found the blogging ‘mojo’ a lot more elusive over the last year and half or so. I think I’ve also attempted to do too much – I have a number of blogging and writing projects in mind, but I don’t ever feel like there is the time to get them underway. Perhaps 2014 will see something of that come to fruition.

    I’m a little surprised that you did include me, because I was beginning to find my writing as a lot less something I wanted people to read and more like somewhere for me to document the thoughts going through my head. I see that some of them, given recent comments I’ve had on social media and f2f maybe still do interest people other than just myself.

    Now there’s a bit more added pressure to write that I know your eyes are on my blog posts!! Although I haven’t visited your own blog that much, and I don’t think I’ve actually ever commented here prior to this that I’m writing now, I have always admired how you put things into words. I’ll endeavour to pop back now and then and add my thoughts wherever I can.

    Best from London =)

    • annloseva says:

      Hi Mike,

      First of all, thanks for your first comment on my blog)) Welcome!

      It always feels great to know that my thoughts can resonate with somebody else’s and so we can make this connection. So in fact, your recent reason to blog (as in documenting your thoughts and the process being aimed at yourself mostly) is exactly what I seem to value and pay attention to most these days. It is most interesting to know what teachers think as this is *probably* what leads to what they later on do=) So please, share your thoughts. When and if you feel like doing it. We are interested.

      I wouldn’t like to put pressure on you! But yes, my eyes will be on your blog, from time to time)

      Thank you very much for nice words re my writing. I hope you’ll be back now and then, if some of it comes across as potentially worth a discussion.

      Cheers from Moscow =)

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