Paedagogical tinkering

Tessa Woodward used a beautiful phrase in her plenary talk at IATEFL, “paedagogical tinkering“. What a great phrase! I’m a tinkerer myself (and have blogged about tinkering, too.) But what strikes me about this: She put “tinkering” in the context, not of fooling around and trying stuff out, willy-nilly, but of proper professional development, of activism and collaboration.

I don’t usually think of myself really “developing” in any way, I’m more like the cotton flower that just gets woolier and woolier. I’ve shared these little steps, but not systematically. I feel I haven’t gotten too far with it.

So her talk really resonated with me. I’m sure I’m not alone.

As my husband never ceases to remind me, I’ve taken giant steps in these past years in terms of professional development. BUT I just haven’t got a clue as to how to put it all together and take the next step. Hence the wooliness.

For instance, I’ve just reworked a one day compact course (intercultural communication for assistants) that I wrote and first taught 3 years ago, and though I was really quite happy with it back then, and got fantastic feedback, the revised version is completely different. The handout is no longer something to be gone through in sequence, though it’s still a collection of pen-and-paper worksheets to initiate tasks, and reference sheets for the office shelf. The media I’ll be using for comprehension and discussion was not produced for language teaching, it’s free online stuff. Some of the exercises we’ll be doing will use cell phones. And we’ll spend some time online. Three years ago I actually asked the company I taught this course at for a VCR, just to show my expensive intercultural training video. Can you believe it?

So a lot has changed. What’s next? I’m really looking forward to a professional development workshop provided by my teachers’ association, MELTA on 23/24 April and 7 May. I hope that, looking back and trying to integrate the skills I’ve acquired and the lessons I’ve learned will open me up for new adventures.

Don’t miss the Harrogate Online Livestream.

If you teach business people English, join the Business Spotlight Ning social network set up by Helen Strong and Deborah Capras. You’ll find it here. Debbie and Mike gave me great tips there that helped me design my course. Lovely. Thank you!

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Anne

Teaching English for business communication skills, writing online for learners, translating, sailing whenever I can, from Washington, D.C.

3 thoughts on “Paedagogical tinkering”

  1. Great post Anne. Fully agree with what you have written. I haven’t noticed any wooliness at all, anywhere!! In fact, you seem very clued up about what you are doing and you have gone incredibly far in such a short time. I love your story of the VCR. Now it’s all about IWBs and i-Touches and other “i” thingy, and I have to confess they are a bit alien for me!

    Have fun at IATEFL online today!

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