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Ghost of TEFL Past

Me as a reflective teacher in the very early nineties. 

Which could be summed up as...

Rip Up Lesson. Declare hatred of teaching as a job. Pine for something less soul destroying and hard, like mining. Or stripping. Drink copious amounts of the cheapest, most brain cell destroying alcohol possible.  And then blame Jeremy Harmer for everything, in sometimes quite vicious terms.

I did move on from that, eventually. But I never really did get into reflecting in the way you read in the blogs of teachers sharing their reflections today. 

Maybe it's because we didn't have the Internet back then. Reflective teaching with an audience and feedback meant revealing your weak spots to your colleagues. Some of whom were right gits, who you could bank on storing up any Achilles' heel shaped titbits. Just so they could chop you off at the knees the next time the Despot DOS was in the room and a foul mood, wanting to be distracted from trying to divvy up shrinking hours between too many freelancers.

So my evolution as a reflective teacher was mainly via conversations with myself ... in my head. Which wasn't brilliant for encouraging the formation of complete sentences, let alone joined up thinking and pennies dropping. And it's quite lonely inside your head, unless you start talking back to yourself. Which brings a whole new level of worry to the TEFL table. Like, exactly how much is too much Mekong in terms of brain cell die off ? A flopped controlled practice where the past continuous wouldn't continue... just can't compete with "has whiskey eaten my grey matter, and will it grow back ?" sorts of concerns.

I am somewhat awed by the reflective writings of other ELT professionals. Also quite intimidated by the prospect of putting forth what might end up as unpolished, incoherent rambling. Just ripe for unfavourable comparison. Becuase the Gits of Staffroom Past traumatised me. And I am not wholly convinced their reincarnations aren't wandering around the net, waiting to sit and chortle, smuggy knickers style, in my comments.  

But, I've been a freelance TEFLer for the larger portion of my life, which translates as "no decent pension". With another 25-35 years of income-needing years ahead. So there's still an awful lot of scope (Gods of Illness and Disaster willing) for any efforts to get better at something worth while. Particularly in terms of bearing fruit that I (and my students) will have time to chomp on and enjoy.

So here beginith a new era of reflective practice in complete sentences and outside my own head. 

An old dog is about to attempt to learn a new trick.

Just as soon as I've drunkenly hurled a copy of TPOELT  across the room in revenge for a lesson gone horribly wrong. For old times' sake.

Actually no. Scratch that. 

The last time I got drunk I got pregnant. 

The Chianti Baby is 14 years old, and while my egg factory has probably shut up shop by now, I'm not taking any chances of a repeat of six years (yes, years. Not months. Six fecking YEARS !) of a miniature insomniac torturing me with sleep deprivation.

Harmer can stay on the bookshelf unmolested. A reprieve, in the name of a good night's sleep.

I will be adding my TEFL flavoured, reflective teaching links here as I dig them out of the the links list on my other device. Adding others as I find them. 

Recommendations welcome.

Git shaped comments, not so much.


  1. Hi Ninja!
    I've been a freelance TEFLer for some time now and I am glad we both decided not to continue our professional development in our heads, but online.
    I look forward to more fun posts.

  2. Great post. Been enjoying your tweets for a while now so will look forward to enjoying your blog posts as well.