#shifthappens

2013 has seen a pope resign, an ageing superman turn seventy-five, and my teenage idol Roger Waters finally perform live (in Brazil). In retrospect, these were three things I didn’t see coming a year ago. Nor did I imagine I would be sitting here in the middle of a hot mosquito-infested night writing my very first blog post as I watch my beloved daughter in her sleep. But, hey, shift happens.

Why a blog? Why now?

The reason is quite simple. Because shift happens, I now feel ready to counter-argument the excuses I have always made for not blogging:

  • Blogging is hard work and I have more important things to do
  • I’m not sure what to write about
  • All the good ideas have already been written about

Blogging is hard work and I have more important things to do

I used to say the same thing about learning to play the guitar. That was until I decided to seriously take it up last August after a four-month teacher training season in Ecuador, inspired by a great friend and fellow teacher trainer (and guitar player) Andy Cox. All it took me was to learn to say no to three episodes a night of every season of ‘The Big Bang Theory’ and voilà! Now I just can’t stop playing. The success of this enterprise inspired me to reassess my priorities and to try to cut down on my current level of procrastination.

I’m not sure what to write about

Because shift happens I have now decided to stop sabotaging myself by holding on to this thought. After all, myriad different and interesting things happen in my classes every day which I am sometimes happy to share on Facebook without critical reflection of my own practices – and which could be useful to teachers elsewhere – not to mention all the rich exchanges that invariably go on inside the teachers’ room.  The same applies to the countless hours of input sessions given and lessons observed on teacher training courses, the talks and workshops given in several ELT events, the insights gained from attending conferences and seminars… the list is endless.

All the good ideas have already been written about

Again, I admit I was wrong. More and more we are being required to find local solutions to local challenges while keeping the global in perspective. In the past two years I have gone from teaching a group of Sudanese refugees to groups of mixed nationalites in the UK to groups of small shopkeepers and cabdrivers in Ecuador to monolingual groups of middle-class teenagers and adults in language schools in Brazil. There are no neat solutions to classroom dynamics given the changing nature of classrooms. As teachers we are constantly reviewing our practices and finding new solutions to problems we face on a daily basis. Not to mention all the great class materials and lessons we create, which are often used a couple of times and then forgotten in a folder in a PC or a memory stick.

Shift happens

About 10 years ago I met an inspiring teacher trainer called Luiz Otávio on a CELTA course. And this year we met again for the first time since then. We were both presenting at an ELT event. I mentioned to him how 2013 had probably been the best year of my professional career thus far. “How old are you?”, he asked. “thirty-five”, I replied. With a grin on his face, he gave me that look only very wise people possess and remarked: “It’s the end of another seven-year cycle”. So who knows, maybe shift truly happens at the end of every seven years.

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