The end of one year and the start of a new year invite me to sit down and take stock of the time that has passed and the events that have come to pass. So as 2012 rolls over to 2013, here’s a look back at a personal journey begun in January 2012, in hopes that others will feel inspired to start on their own journey in January 2013.
Sometimes it seems the stars align and good fortune shines down. 2012 was for me what I consider a sort of renaissance year in my career and in my life, since the two are so intertwined. I passed DELTA modules 1 & 2 in part thanks to the wisdom shared by our tutors Dennis Davy and Peter Strutt and the work of Jane Ryder and ESOL Strasbourg to bring this program to France. It has opened the flood gates and is the first step on a journey that I will continue traveling long into the future.
Some of the things learned were not exactly on the syllabus though, but are just as important in one’s professional development. I gained the clarity to realize that my former company was severely taking advantage of its teachers and better yet, I had the courage to do something about it. I struck out on my own and felt the weight of a thousand worlds lifted from my shoulders. I finally felt in charge of my life and am now steering towards a more rewarding path of promise.
This past year, I met Jennie Wright on the DELTA course and found a kindred spirit in ELT. Her experience, ideas, and our discussions have given me much to build on in my own classroom. Stemming from our work on the course, we are currently working on a book together and I hope that this will lead to more collaboration in the future.
This year’s journey also helped me realize that I too can contribute to the greater discussion. Marianne Raynaud passed the piloting of TESOL France Grenoble to me and I felt honored because she started the chapter five years ago—the first of the TESOL France regions. It was like she was entrusting me with her baby! I gave my first talks, at a TESOL France Grenoble and TESOL France Lyon events, then at the 2012 TESOL France annual colloquium in Paris, all of which allowed me to share my experience and to ponder new questions.
Before having undergone such professional development like the DELTA and running the Grenoble chapter of TESOL France, I wouldn’t have had the courage to stand up before fellow teachers whom I respect so much for fear of not being up to standard, fear of making mistakes and losing face. However, after my talk in Paris on Dogme through students’ eyes, Gabriel Diaz Maggioli asked if I’d like to turn that talk into a paper to be included in a book on researching Dogme. Lots of other great teachers will also be contributing, some of whom I had the privilege of meeting for the first time this year.
The experience also taught me that giving talks is not a test. I was very nervous to see the likes of Willy Cardoso, Jemma Gardner, James Taylor, and Luke Meddings in the audience. “What if they think I’ve got it all wrong?” I fretted. Well, then we’ll talk about it. Debates will be fueled. Ideas will be exchanged. They became supportive colleagues, not a jury to try to impress. “Support” comes to us from the Latin supportare—to carry, to bring up. That’s what I found in my audience: people to carry me and lift me up.
I also found support in places like Twitter and Facebook and in less virtual groups like TESOL France, IATEFL and BESIG. There are always great educators and thinkers here willing to lend a hand, offer advice, or simply answer a question that you may have about something that happened in the classroom. Several of the colleagues (in the greater sense of the term) met here I also consider as friends, a chosen family.
So thanks to all of you who supported me–who carried me and lifted me up–in this past year’s journey. 2012 was a good year—a year of change, a year of questioning, and a year of exploring. Let’s hope the next will be just as exciting.
Wishing you happy new year, but also a happy year from now until this time 2013.