Finding my feet (and my little red book) again


October 5, 2014 by gemmalunn

This week was the first week in my new job and with the exception of a 3 week pre-sessional course the only time I’d taught in over a year! I handed in my dissertation on a Friday, went on holiday on the Saturday, returned two weeks later on the Sunday and had my first class at 9am on the Monday! So to say I was well prepared would be an understatement, I had the Sunday afternoon to prep and get my head together but as the week went on the lack of preparation became apparent. I don’t mean actual lesson plans, I’m referring more to general preparation of getting back into teacher mode. Basic yet integral parts of my teaching, like error correction or giving instructions, felt rough and poorly planned.

In my hammock - Roseli Sera - eltpics

Still in holiday mode…?! In my hammock – Roseli Sera – eltpics

On Thursday evening as I was planning that I’d set my students’ homework on Friday to write their first entries of their learning journals: to reflect on their first week, I realised that was exactly what I also needed to do. I needed to do some serious reflecting! As a starting point I dug out my teaching journal and scribbled down all my random thoughts from the week, these mainly consisted of what I felt lessons had lacked and what I should have been doing better. The notes then turned into ideas about what I needed to do to improve these aspects. I immediately felt the same relief and sense of clarity that I used to feel when I regularly used my teaching journal.

My teaching journal

My teaching journal

It may be a coincidence or down to the activities but Friday’s classes seemed miles better. I felt more in control and more aware of my actions again. So I set myself some homework this weekend to do some serious reflecting and generally try to get back into the mindset of a teacher! Here’s the full list of my homework so I can’t make any excuses:

  • To read over Diploma lesson plans and notes.
  • Read some past blog posts (✓).
  • Start reading other ELT blogs again (✓).
  • Start tweeting again and reconnect with my PLN (✓).
  • Write a post (✓).
  • Go back to basics with lesson planning

I wasn’t expecting to feel so out of touch this week but I suppose it’s normal after a long break. I wonder if anyone else has had a similar experience?


6 thoughts on “Finding my feet (and my little red book) again

  1. swisssirja says:

    Dear Gemma,
    Yes! Yes! Yes! The state of mind, the state of affairs you’ve described in this post is quite how I’ve been feeling this new school year.
    It’s like I’m unstuck and flapping in the wind. I’m a little bit everywhere and nowhere really. If last year was a blogging, tweeting, conference craze, then this summer came like a sharp cut. It took me so far from teaching. I had suddenly so many other interesting things rushing into my life that now I have real trouble boarding the teacher train again.

    I’ve a pretty similar homework list in my head to help me re-tune to the teaching-with-the-heart state of mind. I really hope to succeed, because working in a half-spirited way is definitely not my cuppa. I guess I miss my last year me 😉

    Good luck, Gemma!

    • gemmalunn says:

      Hi Sirja, great to hear from you again.

      Also great (but not great at the same time!) to know someone else is feeling the same way. I totally agree that teaching in a half-hearted way is not comfortable or at all rewarding! I’m sure we will both be back on track soon, keep me posted and good luck too x

  2. kevchanwow says:

    Hi Gemma,

    Welcome back, to both the classroom and blogging. This year I too ended up in a new school, new students, new responsibilities. I was doing my best to just rush from class to class, communicate and explain things to parents, help students get used to the expectations of an intensive language program. I rarely found the time to blog or Tweet. But unlike you, I didn’t think that all the craziness and discomfort meant I needed to get reflective. I wish I had. It’s only now, that I am blogging that I realised how the busiest and most uncomfortable times are exactly when we need RP the most. I’m reminded of a quote from The Glass Bead Game:

    “The more we demand of ourselves, or the more our task at any given time demand of us, the more dependant we are on meditation as a wellspring of energy.”

    Just replace with ‘meditation’ with ‘RP’ and that’s the lesson I’ve finally managed to learn over the past 6 months.

    Happy to be on a similar journey with you,


  3. gemmalunn says:

    Hi Kevin,

    Thanks so much for the comment, great to know others are on a similar jouney. I love that quote, soo true. I’m lucky that I have quite a bit of free time at the moment so intend to make the most of it and get back into refelcting as much as possible!

    Hope this school year is not as crazy for you.


  4. […] when you are describing then interpreting the event. As part of my getting back into teaching (see previous post here) I’ve been using the ELC again. I realised that my initial frustrations felt towards students […]

  5. […] you have read previous posts on this blog you’ll know that I’m a fan of keeping a reflective journal for myself. Also, in the past I’ve encouraged students to keep learning journals and I found […]

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