New year. Time to reflect on what we did, and what we can do. It’s also time to define our priorities and review our goals.
I was talking to my sister, who’s a clinical psychologist, about goals and how to reach them. She said we may get anxious or lost sometimes when we have a goal or a project that requires a lot of work because we’re looking at the bigger picture. She added that our first reaction is to feel overwhelmed and even doubt our ideas and ourselves, and this is because we only focus on the final results we’re hoping to get.
It’s like this big mountain below. We want to climb it, to conquer it, but it looks absolutely daunting at first.
What do we do then?
She said we should break that major goal into smaller goals, so then each time we conquer one, we’ll feel good about ourselves which in turn will motivate us to go on to the next one.
Looking back to 2019, it didn’t seem like I had done much for my career, but when I went over the pictures on my phone, I was actually surprised! I didn’t plan much for what I saw in those pictures, I have to say. Opportunities came up and I took them. Then I wondered… If I were able to do all that without a well-thought-out road map to guide me, imagine what I can accomplish if I do have a plan?
My advice to you, dear reader, is to carefully think about what you want to achieve. Look back at what you’ve done so far. See what needs to be improved, changed, or left behind. (Yes, sometimes we must give something up and move on). Write down all that you want to conquer this year. Set that aside and start breaking up your goals into smaller, more tangible ones.
For instance, say you want to read more this year. (I do). You already have lots of books that you haven’t opened, and you’re overwhelmed because you’ll need to read some titles for work, while others are on your not-so-important list, but you bought them because you liked the author or the topic. (You know how that goes). Now, you ask yourself, what do I need to do to be able to read more? You can start by setting a time to read and silence your phone and notifications. You can also read what you like first, and ditch the books you’re not enjoying and don’t need. Sell or donate them. They’re just taking up space and collecting dust on your shelves. Now that ultimate goal is getting more realistic and attainable. (These ideas about reading more I found here)
I have to say I’m not great at this. I’m used to just going with the flow. What I can tell you is that this is not a good way to get what you really want. We waste time and energy. I now realize that. So, if you’re up for it, join me this year in this new challenge: planning and taking one bite at a time. If you’re already doing it, though, it’d be great to hear your thoughts and ideas.
We had presenters from many parts of the country, as well as from other nations, and I was one of them.
Being there meant a lot to me because it is the culmination of a series of steps I’ve carefully taken in my career and education to develop and grow.
5 years ago I was not even teaching English. I was living in the US doing something completely different; I had been away from a classroom for years and teaching seemed like a distant memory . Now fast-forward to 2018 and here I am: presenting at an international conference, sharing what I’ve learned and learning from some of the most prestigious names in ELT in Brazil and abroad.
My talk was about how to bridge a gap between teacher and learners in an online setting. My focus was on how to build rapport and make sure your lesson is successful. By successful I meant connecting with your students as if you were face-to-face. I also talked about how we teachers have our own prior beliefs and biases regarding online teaching and how we can overcome that.
Now, let me take you to the last day of the conference when I gave my presentation. I arrived early and I’d made sure I had saved the presentation to the cloud (Google Drive & Dropbox for good measure), plus I had it in my email, and in a memory stick. Everything was perfect until I found out that I lacked one thing: a cable to connect my Mac to the school’s projector! *Gasp*
You’d think I would be panicking, but I wasn’t. I guess I knew that someone in this great community of teachers would help me. Do I advise coming unprepared? No! Not at all! But at BRAZ-TESOL I knew I was among friends. In the end a teacher I had just met the day before offered to lend me a cable _and_ clicker! He not only lent me his equipment, but installed everything and I was ready and set 15 minutes before my talk! Thanks Hulgo Freitas!
My final thoughts and advice
Don’t count on someone like Hulgo, because you may not be as lucky as I was. (I already bought cables and a clicker!)
Ask More Experienced Speakers for Advice or Feedback.
After my talk I was a bit upset because I had to rush a bit towards the end. The reason that happened was that I had 40 minutes total and I didn’t account for that. I thought I’d have extra time for Q&A. Another reason is that people started asking questions towards the end and that was was because of the way I presented the information. I started with the theory and moved to practical and real examples last. So I talked to an experienced speaker, Luiz Otávio Barros. He told me to trim the talk to about 30′ so I’d have an extra 10’ to account for questions, rehearse it until I nail it and to start with what the audience wants to hear: the practical and real examples. Once I have their attention and interest, the rest of my talk should go smoothly. The theory can come last to support my examples, and by the end of the talk everyone will have asked their questions and gotten their answers. Great advice, isn’t it?
Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes or To Look Silly.
Your proposal was accepted because you have something worthy to say. Don’t worry if something goes wrong during your presentation like a glitch with your slides, the Internet or if you stutter. Be authentic. You know your stuff. That’s why you’re there! So long as you prepare for your talk and possible questions, no one will care about those things. Your posture, your confidence and how you handle yourself will matter most.
For me, I’ll get a second chance! I’ll be presenting the same talk in São Paulo on September 7th, at BrELT on The Road 2018. How great is that? I’ll listen to Luiz’s advice. He said he’ll try to watch my next talk! No pressure there, huh?
How about you? What advice do you have for presenters?
Thanks for reading & ’til next time!
PS. Here’s more about my talk and if you’re interested, there’s still time to register! It’ll be a great event. Hope to see you there!
Online Teaching: Overcoming The Distance and Delivering a Successful Lesson
In this talk, I will share tips to overcome the most common problems in synchronous learning: adaptability, struggle (teacher and students alike), computer literacy, discipline and motivation, and credibility.
Teachers will be presented with solutions to choose and adapt the right material to their learners; the most common platforms used for online teaching; tips on how to build rapport, engage students and bridge the distance gap between them.
One of the things that kept me from blogging for years was fear of exposure. Once your words are out anyone can hear them. Some ears will be kind but others won’t, and that’s OK.
I also used to ask myself these questions: What am I going to write about? There are so many blogs about teaching, ELT and freelancing, already.
There is another version of that. When there was an ELT event approaching, and colleagues asked me if I would submit a proposal, that same inner voice would strike again: What am I going to talk about? Who will want to listen to me? Or, what could I possibly say that hasn’t been said before? Etc.
Have you had these thoughts? Have you heard other teachers say that?
This way of thinking can be more harmful than it might seem. When we ask these questions, we are usually comparing ourselves with other people. What we fail to realize is that we each have a voice and our own experience to share. When we teach a lesson, it’s never the same no matter how many times we do it over. So, why would that be different than when we write from our perspective or give a talk?
When someone writes about a topic, or gives a lecture, they’ll bring into light not only the theoretical aspects about it but also their unique view on that subject. We each experience teaching differently. Some made that a career choice before College, while others embraced it later in life after graduating in a different field, such as myself. For this and many other intrinsic reasons, we will have different stories to tell.
Your story, impressions and views on a subject will be yoursonly.
Don’t wait any longer. Get ready!
Here’s a list of pros to give you that push so you can start writing and submittingproposals to that conference, or event you may be shying away from:
The world can benefit from your knowledge. You may say: Oh, but that has been said many times! Maybe, but has it been said by you? Your way, from your perspective? What if you see it through an angle that no one has seen before? How can you know it if you don’t try? It’s like the saying goes, you’re failing before even trying!
Promote your business or services to a broader audience. If you hide, who will know about you besides those close to you, your friends and family? You can potentially reach anyone on the planet who sees your website, blog or hear you at a conference, webinar, etc.
Advance in your career. By writing or participating in events as a speaker, you will be taking your teaching career to another level. The good news is that you can find support from experienced teachers to assist you with all the steps from writing your proposal to preparing your first presentation. Check with the event’s organizers.
Let me share something with you. I gave my first talk in 2017. Yes, last year! Here’s the opening slide that started it all.
I had total support from experienced colleagues from BrELT who organized this wonderful event called BrELT on the Road bringing together teachers who only met online on Facebook to a live event held in Rio de Janeiro.
I was a first time speaker, so I was helped during the entire process. From writing the proposal, to rehearsing my presentation and getting a personal call from Bruno Andrade, the Group’s founder himself who watched my talk and offered me his feedback! How wonderful was that!? In the end I felt energized, happy and accomplished. Some of the teachers who attended my session were beginners, but some were experienced as well. They came to me after the presentation and asked me questions. It felt great! And to think that I almost didn’t do it because, oh well, what could I possibly say that someone hadn’t said before?
My advice? Choose a topic with which you’re familiar. Something you know very well, and have tested again and again. It’ll give you the confidence you need.
By sharing what we know, we can help other people avoid making the same mistakes we made. We can also shed new light onto an old issue.
OK, we all know that sunny days won’t last forever. Some clouds will move in eventually. There will be rainy days. It’s just part of life. In order to succeed as a writer and speaker, you will need to hone your skills like any other professional, but you’ll also need to work on your emotional intelligence. With exposure, comes constructive as well as destructive criticism. There are all kinds of people out there reading what we write and watching us. That shouldn’t stop us. If you receive destructive criticism, it should serve as fuel to make you write even more! If that happens to you, don’t get bothered with that. Carry on!
Constructive feedback on the other hand is great and should be welcome! It’ll make you a better teacher, writer, lecturer and so on.
We should think the same way when we get to a position when we can offer feedback. First of all, we must ask ourselves, was it solicited? We shouldn’t assume the other person wants our feedback! Instead, we can reach them via inbox if we really mean to help. Remember the feedback I received after my first talk? My colleague contacted me in private and asked me if I wanted his feedback. That’s the way to do it.
I’ll leave you with a picture from my first talk, and it would make me really happy to hear that you have taken the first step to write, or to submit a proposal. I will be giving my 2nd talk this July at BRAZ-TESOL International Conference in Caxias do Sul, Brazil. I couldn’t be happier. I’ve had the support of friends and colleagues to have my proposal accepted yet again. I took the first step, but I also asked for help. Don’t be shy. This is my advice. Teachers are generous. Ask and you shall receive!