At this point, I was already thinking about how poorly we treat our elderly and how tragic it is that someone at this age can’t even afford to pay $30 per month. Thankfully, that wasn’t the end of the story. Continue reading Caring→
When I joined BC TEAL back in 2012, I had just completed my MA TESOL and I was looking to connect with my local English language teachers association. What I didn’t know was that I was gaining a family. That sounds really trite and maybe a bit idealistic, but the longer I have been a part of this association, the more that has become true.
In a short period of time, I made a number of friends with my teaching colleagues and I grew as a teaching professional through my interactions with each one of them. That was all nice and good, but I was not in it to join a club. What I wanted was to see lives changed if that could even be possible through something like this. Continue reading Climbing→
I can’t believe it’s been twenty years since I completed my initial TESL certificate program. A lot has happened in that time, but I remember it so clearly. At that time, I was going to school in south-central Manitoba (that’s in Canada for those who don’t know) and I was taking the last of my TESL courses including a practicum training course. I was young and carefree, so I don’t think I was paying much attention to the information that was given me in class. All I cared about was getting this thing done!
It turned out that I was going to be teaching at Red River Community College in Winnipeg, about a one hour drive from the college I was attending. A girl from Cambridge, England was also doing her practicum there, so we decided to carpool. The first day came along and we drove into town, sharing how nervous and excited we both were to get this started. For the days leading up to this, we had been talking about our classes and the time was finally arriving. We drove up to the school and jumped out since we only had about 15 minutes before class was to start. I ran to my classroom and introduced myself to my practicum instructor who was not pleased that I was arriving so close to the start of class. I sat in the back and waited. The teacher introduced me and then called me up to the front. I was to teach a 30 minute portion of the class and I figured I had more than enough material to cover it. I started off and started to notice that the students seemed to be finishing the activities much faster than I had anticipated. In fact, I ran through all of my planned material in about 5 minutes leaving me wondering what to do next. Thankfully, my instructor jumped in and took over.
It’s been an interesting day. Actually, it’s been an interesting couple of weeks. About two weeks ago, I took on an intersession class (one I have never taught before) a day after I had committed to writing the curriculum for a course that is due in a few days. On top of all of that, I have just finished up teaching and marking a TESL course. Needless to say, I’ve been a bit pre-occupied.
I am not a conspiracy theorist. I do not think there is some global coverup or that the sky is falling and no one knows it, but there is one area in which I do think we need to be more careful; that is the area of personal data. This is a contentious issue and one that needs to be addressed in the classroom. Before I begin giving my reasons why, let me set the scene first.
I am an avid user of cloud-based services. I have used so many different platforms and tools that store my data on online servers that I can’t even keep track of them all. Even this post was written using OneNote and synced with my other devices using OneDrive and then was uploaded to WordPress.com and shared via Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites. If you search for me online, you will certainly find me in all sorts of places. You could probably get a good deal of information about me without even trying very hard.
Some may find that scary, but I have weighed the benefits and the potential losses and have decided for myself that this is the price I am willing to pay for the use of these services. I have been using online tools even before the advent of the internet as we know it now. I used to be a part of a BBS (bulletin board system) using my dial-up service on my 2400 baud modem. Even then, I was aware that some of my personal data was being shared with complete strangers and that was okay with me.
Preface: Be warned. This is a long(ish) true story, but I promise, there is a point at the end of it.
It was a spring day in 2009 and I was at my desk doing some last minute preparation for class when the phone rang.
“Hello, Mr. Hall?”
“Hello, I am Irina from the bookstore. Cambridge University Press is giving a seminar today and I was wondering if you may be interested in attending our fine event.”
“That sounds interesting. What time is it at?”
“It is half past ten in the morning.”
“I have class until 10:20, so it would depend on where it is at.”
“It is located at the Russian high school in the auditorium. Do you know where that is?”
“Is that the school close to Manto?”
“Yes, that is the same one. If you are interested in attending, you may come without registration and you do not need to pay.”
“That sounds good. I may be a few minutes late, but I would love to come.”
I hung up and grabbed my stuff for class. It was now a few minutes before the start of class and I wouldn’t have time afterward to come back up to my office, so I grabbed my coat and headed up to the fifth floor. Continue reading Accommodating→
Three years ago, I decided, scratch that, my wife convinced me that I wasn’t getting any younger and I needed to start exercising regularly. Of course, she was correct and I decided on taking up lane swimming. To me, this seemed like a nice way of exercising that didn’t focus on one area of the body and also was more interesting to me than running.
I went down to the local pool and got a multi-visit pass to motivate me to continue going since it was already paid for. My first visit started really well, but it didn’t take long before I ‘ran out of gas’ and I started feeling lightheaded and dizzy. I didn’t want to look like a fool in front of all of the other swimmers who were lapping me multiple times, so I got out and went to the sauna for a bit. That made me feel even more lightheaded and I realized I was needing to get out and get something to drink.
Due to my dehydration. I was incredibly sore and tired once I got home. I learned my lesson and I made sure I was properly hydrated before and while I was swimming. Even with that, I continued to struggle as I soon noticed how poorly I swam. My technique was awful and I eventually lost interest in swimming and quit once my pass was used up.
Fast-forward a few years to present day and I am just now finishing up my first five weeks of swimming lessons. I have really, really enjoyed myself and I have learned so much. I had taken lessons as a child, but that was so long ago, I have forgotten almost everything about proper techniques and strokes. I am not afraid of the water and I certainly can keep myself from drowning, but I would never progress if I didn’t take the time to restart my learning by backing things up to almost the very beginning. This process really helped me think about my language teaching and what my students are going through. These are some of my reflections. Continue reading Swimming→
It was my first year of college and I was anxious to find out who my dorm roommate was going to be that year. I had been in this dorm in a previous year for high school (I attended a boarding school on the same campus), so I felt like I was in my element. That was when Greg* walked in. He was big. Really big. It turns out he was a weightlifter and even though he was wearing a fairly puffy jacket on this cool fall afternoon, I could tell he would be able to snap me in half if he really wanted to. I just hoped he didn’t want to.
It turned out that Greg was a big softy. While he was dedicated to his weight training, he was a pacifist and as kind as he was muscular. He kept his side of the room in immaculate condition and kept a rigid schedule of going to bed early so he could get up early to work out, doing his homework before going out, and reading a book in the evening. I could set my watch to him; he was that dependable.
I, on the other hand, was having too much fun to worry about such trivial things as studying, cleaning, and exercising regularly. Actually, I was pretty much the opposite of Greg. While he was studying, I was out with friends avoiding my work. While he was working out, I was sleeping. When he was reading, I was playing games on the computer and cranking my music much too loudly.
I liked Greg. Something about him intrigued me and made me feel a bit guilty about my attitude towards work and exercise. Continue reading Forgiving→
I am sitting here staring at $2.15 in change in a pile on my desk. It might seem like a fairly insignificant thing, but it actually has had me thinking about a great deal of things over the past hour or so. In fact, I still don’t quite know what to do with it. You see, it isn’t mine, but the person who owns it didn’t want it. Let me rewind a bit. Continue reading Judging→
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away”.
Ozymandias – Percy Bysshe Shelley
Here I was staring at Room 209 once again, wishing for something, anything, to happen. I can’t imagine the hours, perhaps days, my wife and I had sat on this narrow wooden bench in the second-floor hallway of the Klaipeda Migration Office, hoping that our application for our one-year visa was going to be approved. We had been told that our forms were incorrect despite the fact we had received it from this very office. We had been told of ‘new’ fees that needed to be paid immediately, only to be told the next day that we no longer need to pay this fee, so we could fill out a new form and bring it to Vilnius, a five-hour drive from Klaipeda, to get our money back, even though it would cost twice that to get there and back. Begrudgingly, we sign the money over to some mysterious recipient, likely in that office. Slowly, but surely, we had ‘played the game’ enough without giving into what we felt was unethical behaviour to the point where we were now the ones who had their names called out of the vast crowd, even though others had been waiting there much longer than us. We had finally ‘made it’! Continue reading Falling→