14 октября профессиональным жюри были подведены итоги конкурса творческих эссе для преподавателей английского языка «Inspiring Teachers-2020».
Председатели жюри Lucy Cochrane и Chris Bunyan высоко оценили работы участников конкурса: «It was a real pleasure to read the submissions. Everyone took a slightly different angle and the topics ranged from the wealth of resources available, the dreaded internet connection issues to the joy of the teacher student relationship whether we work online or off. It was clear that everyone has had to develop new skills this year, but have taken many positives from it. Many thanks to everyone who entered! It was a really hard task to choose a winner!»
Лауреатами конкурса «Inspiring Teachers-2020» стали:
Подарки для лауреатов конкурса:
Победителем конкурса стала Лихоманова Мария, г. Санкт-Петербург! Ее эссе было признано жюри лучшим. «Maria offers a fantastic personal view of what makes great teaching and recognition that teachers are the key, not platforms. She outlines how genuine engagement and concern for learners and learning lead to motivating classrooms whether this be on line or off and it is very well written», - считают Lucy Cochrane и Chris Bunyan.
Мария получает главный приз:
Эссе победителя конкурса и лауреатов
«Education: on-line vs off-line? Do we need real contact when learning a language?»
Лихоманова Мария, победитель конкурса: «I’m sorry, am I boring you?» I blurted out when my German teacher started yawning in class. Off-line class, mind it. Does it count as real contact between us? My indignation was real, for one thing. Her boredom was definite too, as I recall. So, it’s safe to say we both were pretty open about the way we felt. Why this dreadful aftertaste, isn’t this immediacy and clarity of interaction the biggest asset of off-line communication? Well, it is, if you have something worthwhile to communicate. It isn’t, if you do not. To put it bluntly - I’m not buying your aloofness. I’m paying for your concern.
On-line English classes with Irina are poles apart from my off-line German ones with Marta. It’s Irina’s conscientious manner of conducting lessons that has never allowed her to be uninterested in what we, students, were saying. No matter how gutlessly we were bleating the answers, she articulated engagement. With witty remarks, with merciless butchering of the essays, with unapologetic promises of sweat and tears instead of tricks and tips - she was omnipresent: in every task in class and in my mind’s eye at home. Isn’t it odd that I’ve never met my thought leader in person? Actually, it doesn't sound quite right because as a person I’ve seen her a great deal. Her insatiable thirst for new lexis, her industry, her commitment to teaching pour off the screen sweeping away the boundaries. Isn’t that real enough?
Being «overlockdowned» and fed up with Zoom, many of us take it as read that off-line language lessons are more vibrant and the atmosphere is more inviting. Ironically, real contact has nothing to do with on-line/off-line format - it’s the sheer power of personality that makes classes either spicy or bland. A teacher can’t hide their apathy, even serving it with a rich sauce of charades and puzzles. A teacher can’t rein in their passion either, even if the portion is made less generous by constant connection interruptions. There’s no difference what type of class you choose. There are just different degrees of realness that teachers can broadcast.
Барабанова Маргарита, лауреат конкурса: We can all agree without any doubt that no one has expected 2020 to be as challenging and troublesome as it is right now. Teachers all over the world had to learn to quickly solve the problems they had never faced before and come up with plan B, C, etc. As a fan of the Walking Dead series, I knew how to stock up on food and other survival supplies, but I have never met once in any post-apocalyptic books guidance on how to teach when everything you knew and was accustomed to, was taken away. As I am an optimistic person and my glass of water is always full, I would like to present my humorous version of «expectation» versus «reality» in on-line education.
Expectation: I would get more sleep and will overall be more rested during on-line education.
Reality: I spent almost twice as much time grading papers of 28 students from Grade 2 sent by their parents at 2 am (because why not?) from their phones… taken with a flash… on a glossy paper…upside down…written with a pencil instead of pen…
Expectation: My classes will be the same, what can be different? I am the same teacher and I have the same students. What can go wrong?
Reality: Everything. Everything can go wrong. I had so many situations during online teaching when things went not as expected and I had to change my plans as I go, from bad internet connection when I couldn’t see or hear my students to the sudden desire of my neighbors to renovate their living room when I had to teach the whole lesson on mute using the small whiteboard and PowerPoint presentations instead of my voice.
To sum up, I would like to say that it was a tough experience for everyone, it was a true test for all teachers out there. But we got through it because we care for our students and want to make our world a better place no matter what!
Николаева Елена, лауреат конкурса: The current conditions of the global pandemic have overturned the conventional ideas of what is normal or appropriate, and what we have taken for granted might be now so difficult to obtain. This has obviously affected every sphere of our life including personal relationships and work and things that have seemed obscure and even ridiculous are our new realities.
I have been working as a teacher for 17 years now and have always imagined education as a face-to-face process. Although the fruits of technical progress enable both teachers and students to use computer technologies for education effectively, I used to look down on them as subsidiary. I have always relied on my abilities to communicate with students building a rapport and creating friendly atmosphere in the classroom. All of a sudden, due to the lockdown, I was deprived of that and in a short period of time went through stages of denial, despair and acceptance, had to transfer my lessons with secondary school students online. They, who had seen the online technologies mostly as a source of communication and entertainment, reluctantly turned to them in search of instruments to help build up their education. Being initially concerned about my own survival in new working conditions, I gradually became familiar with their vision of our interaction; they even shared their views on online learning in comparison with offline.
For most of them leaning English online was and still is nearly as comfortable as in a classroom. They stay in close contact with their teacher and can concentrate on the subject rather than on noisy classmates. Tough schedule keeps them tuned and allows students to organise their activities independently. Online platforms let them attend lessons from any part of the world even while travelling and get immediate feedback from their tutor. What’s more, everyone is seated comfortably in front of their screens, there are no more problems with seating arrangements. This is all true for a special group of teenagers – motivated and disciplined. Others use this chance to occupy the computer with online games or chatting while listening to the lesson. Such things do not happen in a real classroom. Teachers keep an eye contact with everyone, pushing them forward with a smile, a gesture or raised eyebrows. For me, understanding and using body language is crucial in working with children, not only in TPR activities. I trust that younger students benefit from it.
I believe that choosing a form of education depends ultimately on a student’s requirements, age, motivation and preferences. Combining online and offline learning can be both productive and comfortable, so I wouldn’t contrast them, while personal contact can be maintained through feedback, addressing the students’ needs and sincere concern about their welfare. This is what education is really about.
Огородникова Елена, лауреат конкурса: This time last year we were happily teaching our students off-line, enjoying everything traditional classes can offer – real interaction with students, different patterns to organize the classroom, a special atmosphere on the lesson. And our students knew they could count on our immediate support, our feedback, our smileback.
These days, however, we can only value the stability and normality of those days because things have changed dramatically and hardly ever will both our life and the process of education be the same. The thing is that most people today HAVE TO live and learn on-line. It is not about good or bad – it is about necessity.
This necessity does not ask whether we need real contact when learning a language or not. Real contact is unavailable these days. Just at the moment I am teaching my students from home because my son has been diagnosed positive and we have to keep quarantine. And yes, being a TEACHER with almost 20 –year experience, I miss real contact because I miss my students, because I love my students; I love teaching them English and I prefer doing it off-line.
On the other hand, being a proficiency level English LEARNER, I have discovered a lot of new opportunities to practice my language skills. I have got access to numerous on-line classes and webinars which were not available before. Learning the language with world-famous leaders in language education has become a reality. I could even admit that I do not need off-line classes any more…
But I will not do it because I need both – off-line AND on-line. So do our students and all those who want or just need to learn a language. Let’s enjoy off-line learning with its real contact and all other advantages as well as the on-line variant with the ability to connect teachers and learners across the world. These two forms should COEXIST, offering their best practices to us – teachers and learners!
Показий Анна, лауреат конкурса: Progress. What does this notion imply? New possibilities? A number of challenges? Time-consuming, exhaustive work? To make a step up the ladder we need to make an effort, to make a leap – all of the above mentioned. That is why everything new has always required strong personalities to do their magic and take humanity to a completely new level.
As of today, life is constantly in the state of flux, with everybody trying to overdo everybody. Luckily, it is also true for education. I am saying “luckily” because never in a hundred years I as a student would be able to imagine attending courses organized by renowned universities free of charge, let alone get their diploma. That is what online education has done for us – it has provided us with opportunity to uncover our true aspirations and follow our dreams whatever background or education we can bring to the table. Besides, online education teaches one to plan their time and be responsible for their achievements, with lots of visual materials just a click away.
One can argue that there is nothing like human contact, especially in a classroom. The way your teacher moves from one student to the next, the way his eyebrow arches when you say something wrong and the way they smile at you when you do something right – no screen act can compete with that. Especially now, when everybody is glued to their gadgets forgetting what real human contact can do for a person. Then, there is that sublime bond between a teacher and a student that enables a teacher to know exactly when their tutee has no understanding of the subject at hand, but is too timid to raise their hand and ask.
I am a firm believer in the fact that whether we want it or not, online education is already here. The way we play that card, though, is up to us. As a teacher, I am in complete awe of the opportunities studying online can give to learners from the farthest corners of the country – that is the equality for all we have dreamt about.
Новикова Вера, лауреат конкурса: By learning a language we traditionally understand development of communicative skills – reading, listening, speaking and writing, all of which can be efficiently honed in the face-to-face offline environment. However, earlier this year the sci-fi scenario of the pandemic outbreak modified lifestyles of everyone on our planet, including millions of educators who ended up teaching online.
Language teachers have been compelled to adapt their classroom techniques to a new format which lacks direct human contact. No commuting and zero chance to catch the virus alongside the comfort of their cozy chairs appeared to be great benefits alongside being forced to improve their technical skills. Being tourists or immigrants in a digital native world, loads of teachers had no other ways but adapt if they wanted to remain competitive at the virtual market.
Luckily education and technology have always gone hand in hand. My first black and white photocopied English textbook, filled with Soviet propaganda, seems a mockery compared to the contemporary engaging training toolkits equipped with online components. Millenials are blessed having all digital audios and videos at their fingertips, being able to use emails, chat rooms and various social media. Students can interact with each other as well as learn how to build self-discipline and accountability. Adolescents feel less shy, and they share their thoughts more eagerly as the online space reduces academic pressure.
In a conventional classroom language teachers rely a lot on socializing, which is crucial when building interpersonal communication skills, especially if we speak about students of younger age. In this regard during online lessons students might feel more isolated from their peers. Another important drawback of studying online concerns kinesthetic learners, who feel far more confident in offline environment, as they learn through tactile sensations and physical touch.
The global lockdown merely exposed and accelerated the seismic changes which had started back in the pre-COVID era. We have to admit that there is no going back. Hopefully, most language schools would be able to provide hybrid education modes, combining both online and offline formats in order to teach English efficiently even without a real personal contact.