10-Year Challenge

With my Purple class back in 2010

A new year and a new decade seems like a good point to get back into this blogging thing, doesn’t it? I’ve really missed it, as I think it was a crucial part of my professional development, but alas, in the last few years, it has sat neglected, occasionally reminding me with the odd email that it’s waiting, dormant and ready to be brought back to life.

And that’s what I’m going to do now, although I’m reluctant to make any promises, as we’ve had false dawns before. I wrote this post on June 18th 2018, and I said then, “I’ll definitely be doing more blogging” and well, we saw what happened there. But I am going to go for it, and let’s see what happens. I might even tackle some of the subjects I mentioned on that long list I posted then. Who knows?

So I thought I would start by reflecting on the last ten years by joining Sandy Millin, Lizzie Pinard and Tyson Seburn in the 10-year challenge. Here’s my list of 20 things I’ve done in the last decade.

1. In October 2010, I started this blog and I plan on celebrating that anniversary later this year (promises, promises…).
2. I also moved to Belgium and started teaching privately, something I love to do and do now. I experimented with Dogme which was very influential on my teaching practice.
3. In 2011, I went to my first IATEFL conference in my hometown Brighton, and it changed everything. I met the people who are now my colleagues and friends and started to develop a network that is a huge part of what I do now.
4. In 2012, we started to create BELTA and officially launched it in January 2013. I’ve said it a thousand times, but I’m hugely proud of what we did, and how BELTA continues to flourish.

Launching BELTA

5. In 2013, I moved to Costa Rica, where I started working at Centro Cultural Britanico. I think of my time working there with a lot of fondness and gratitude, as while it was professionally rewarding, I mainly remember it for the great people I worked with.
6. I also did my first ever conference presentation at LEB Seminar, in front of about 25 people, which I now realise is a pretty good turnout!
7. In 2014, I did my first presentation at IATEFL. I did a Pecha Kucha, which I highly recommend as a way of starting, as if you can get through one of those, everything else seems easy!
8. I was also interviewed for the British Council Teaching English live coverage, alongside Willy Cardoso and Kath Bilsborough. I had watched these videos for years, so it felt quite surreal to be sitting on the couch being interviewed.
9. The TEFL Commute Podcast started in 2015, and continues to this day. I’m a huge podcast fan, and I think that we provide EFL teachers with a distinctive and enjoyable way to think about their profession. We’ve done 10 seasons, over 60 episodes and have no intention of slowing down any time soon!

The TEFL Commute team

10. I moved back to Brasília in 2015 and in October, I was invited to do my first plenary at BRAZ-TESOL Goiánia. This was the first of many, many conferences in Brazil.
11. I started work for Cultura Inglesa, and had two very enjoyable years there. I had the opportunity to teach groups I hadn’t before, particularly teenagers and pre-teens, and while it was a challenge, I learned a lot. And I met a lot of great teachers.
12. I started work on my DELTA in 2016 and completed it 2 and a bit years later. It wasn’t always easy, but it was hugely rewarding and I’m very glad I did it.
13. I returned to teaching associations in 2017 and volunteered for BRAZ-TESOL Brasília. I feel passionately about the importance of teaching associations and love being a part of this.
14. I did my first full presentation at IATEFL in Brighton in 2018, and it couldn’t have gone any better. A full room of nearly 200 people and in my hometown, I don’t think I’ll ever do a better one!
15. In 2018, I self-published my first book, How Was Your Weekend? and was overwhelmed by the response. It has sold fairly well, and I hope I’ll be able to do more with it in the future. I have an idea, let’s see if it happens!
16. I started to produce the 7 Skills For The Future podcast with Emma-Sue Prince. As I mentioned, podcasting is a huge passion of mine and I’ve really enjoyed collaborating on this project with Emma-Sue, especially as it has nothing to do with ELT and encourages me to think about issues and train myself in skills which aren’t directly related to teaching.

With my co-author Bruno Andrade

17. Starting at the end of 2018 and continuing throughout much of 2019, I wrote, with my co-author Bruno Andrade, a lower-secondary coursebook series for FTD Educaçao in Brazil.
My first experience of coursebook writing was a lot of work and very intense, but I cannot wait to get my mitts on a copy when it’s published this year. This also the main reason why this blog withered since my last attempt to bring it back – a good excuse I’m sure you agree!
18. I became a committee member of IATEFL Teacher Development SIG in early 2019. As you can see throughout this list, IATEFL has been a huge part of my development, and I’m really enjoying the opportunity to give back. I’m part of the social media and podcast teams, which has given me the chance to work on my third podcast, Developod.
19. Raise Up! was launched in April 2019 by me and Ilá Coimbra with a presentation at IATEFL and our first book. The project is designed to demonstrate how mainstream ELT materials could and should be more inclusive. I’m proud of the impact that we have had, and really look forward to watching this project grow in the future.
20. And right at the end of 2019, Ilá and I had an article published in IATEFL Voices. I’ve had articles in a few publications over the years, but this was my first in Voices, which I’ve been a reader of for most of the decade, so this felt like a milestone to end the decade on.

Ilá and I present Raise Up! at IATEFL

It’s been quite the decade, as you can see, and as my first in ELT,  it’s been rewarding to look back at what I’ve crammed in. If you’re new to this blog, I hope you learned something new about me, and let’s see what else comes along in the next ten years!

The post was soundtracked by…

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