M2M Vlog #4 (whilst IATEFLing Online)

Following #IATEFL2018 livetweets and watching the livestreams/recordings of selected talks as been great so far. In a handful of ways its is actually better than attending in person – you’re free of some typical conference downers. There’s no frantic jogging from session to session, no social anxiety when you bump into people you admire, the hangovers after nights out with those very same people (the anxiety subsides when, yet again, the fact that ELT is full of all the nicest people is confirmed). There are advantages, including how you can skim some of the best, more pertinent ideas from a multitude of sessions via livetweet and/or videos, and there’s a lot of the kind of semi-frenetic conceptual crosshatching that I very much enjoy.

Of course with all that said, I’d rather be in attendance! No matter how you plug into it, IATEFL is a jolt of a massive amount of intellectual input. There’s so much to follow up on. There’s so much to reflect on. So, thought I, maybe I’ll use my little “M2M TV” video-posting project here this month to do some bits of responding and reflecting. And here’s the first one. It’s something I deeply wanted to delete after watching back a bit (and not just because the angle highlights what I’m going to describe as my ScrivenerChin) but I resisted. I’m going to trust my original intention to just ‘put myself out there’ – that’s a big part of this.

I’ve been putting bullet-pointed overviews first, but because the text I’ve got to add is more extensive here (not bullet points this time) it comes after video.

I chose 3 things to talk about for this video. They are generally unrelated beyond the fact that they came up via watching IATEFL today:

  1. The (perhaps slightly odd?) way that the notion of “Teacher Development Over Time” strikes me, and why I like it.
  2. Reason #4080 why I wish I was still a full-time CELTA tutor: I could try using Slack during peer-observation in TP like Alastair Douglas describes.
  3. The influence of research on error correction for me personally does not correspond with Ortega’s characterization of it in her (fantastic!) plenary as an area of research which has failed to affect teachers and teaching.

I wrote some quick notes just before making this video. These are them clean up and expanded a bit below:

-1-The new book is “Teacher Development Over Time” by Freeman, Woodward, and Graves. That title with ‘over time’ in is weirdly striking to me! Why? Hmm..I imagine it carries with it an assumption that we’ve GOT time. It’s also echoes refreshing patience. And reassurance maybe? Despite everything, you’ve…got time. And you DO develop. 

But it somehow buzzes with background conflict too, for me. Because:

We’ve got working conditions so bad on average that nobody even wants to mention them for fear of bringing the whole partay down (we really should though). 

We’ve on mental health issues that go way beyond anything we’re doing to meet their challenge (this is something we are just beginning to talk about at conferences). 

On a related note, we’ve got big bad burnout around every corner.

And we’ve got, maybe too, this clusterf*ck patchwork of dysfunctional, impotent professional development schemes to fuel us forward OR NOT. 

I’m reminded of the (seminar? to me it is) articleDo EFL teachers have careers? by Bill Johnston from TESOL Quarterly 1997 (1997 by the way, was a really interesting year in ELT it seems to me). 

Ultimately, it’s the optimism the time suggests, I think. And I’m optimistic. So I really like it. If we can and do develop OVER TIME, we must have careers after all. And we must be as resilient, determined to keep fixing up this mess, and as INTO IT as I suspect we are. 

– 2 – 

Alastair Douglas, CELTA/DELTA trainer, spoke on the effectiveness of observation tasksAll kinds of great stuff generally about peer-observation tasks on a course.

But also, great some nichey stuff for CELTA (& similar) trainers – including: he’s been using Slack to allow peer-observering trainees to log their observation task thoughts immediately, and it all gets shared in the chat space immediately, building a thread. 

And an even more specific bit about that – based on a Q from the audience (isn’t it great to have actual, good time for productive Q & A? I’m still working on that as a relatively new presenter person!) about its effect on the F2F group feedback session that happens after TP.

Alastair talked about being very helpful. Didn’t have to ask the trainees “so, what did you think of it then?” because already know what they thought. It helped feedback get quickly past the slightly uncomfortable reporting opinions, etc.

I think simply recalling the observation – even with some written notes (honestly, if they’re millennials especially, what good are written notes even, for many?) takes up a lot of energy sometimes. So yeah. Such a GREAT innovation. 

So, in the ensuing feedback sessions he could get to more “OK, so how might we do Y different, what did you learn from Z, etc.” – more of the really important stuff! It made oral group feedback much easier. Totally. I wish I were on CELTAs right now to do this!!!

– 3 –

This is something I plan to blog about more, but in Ortega’s plenary she gave two examples of research, the first successfully impacting teachers and teaching and the other failing to do so. The success being research on motivation, and the failure being research on error correction. 

First point: I have no reason to doubt her description here. But it’s funny, because for me personally, the EC research has had a PROFOUND effect on my teaching (and teacher training work). 

What if I found that research on and related to EC actually inspired and informed a rich journey of professional self-discovery?

Second point: her putting motivation and error correction (or corrective feedback as I’d rather call it) next to each other here got my juices flowing…in my ELTresearch bites summary of a study on the sophisticated CF practices of an expert teacher I describe it as research that “spotlights two key practices which systematically imbue classroom corrective feedback episodes with engaging positivity”. What I meant by “engaging positivity” there, and what I probably could have written instead, is actually, essentially MOTIVATION. A deep kind that is maybe emergent in interaction during the act of focused study with a teacher. 

This then reminded me, too, that my very first foray into ‘presenting’ anything online or F2F was a little 15 minute contribution to a sort of peer2peer webinar thing organized by one David Deubelbeiss. It was 2012, maybe late 2011. I’d been reading as much of the research literature on CF as I could find during my time as an MA TESOL student working with Dr. Marnie Reed, who was particularly inspiring on that front.

My topic? ‘Corrective feedback as a classroom management technique”. 

The point? I don’t think everyone is missing the complexity inherent in CF!

I think people in my PLN like Steve Brown – also a presenter at IATEFL this year – have indeed been exploring things (including corrective feedback for sure) outside of the formal research vein for a good while and with a lot of energy and with a CLEAR eye on complexity. Brown’s stuff on ‘preflection’ is a great example, in my opinion. I think that outside of the formal halls, there’s an amazing array of teacher-generated co-inquiry that influences and supports and affects teachers and teaching in profound ways.

Three words I don’t end my video with but maybe should have:


(I heard Gabrielle Díaz Maggioli talking in his TEFLology interview about ELT blogs as a more-than-valid source of professional knowledge. He’s way ahead of the game IMO).

Can’t remember the session but I screenshot this today from #IATEFL2018 Twitter. Seems to go with “READ THE BLOGS” above…

Thanks for checking this out. As always, do consider leaving some kind of response in the comments section below. You have no idea how much better that makes all of this. Or maybe you do. In which case, what are you waiting for? 🙂


PS – does “thought dump” sound as bad to you as it does to me?  😛

3 thoughts on “M2M Vlog #4 (whilst IATEFLing Online)

    1. Haha…yeah – looks like I messed up the video embedding, too!? Based on your ver-helpful feedback I’m going to try to fix that AND put the video first in this post. It IS a ‘vlog’ after all, isn’t it.

      Hope things are great where you are today.

      Happy (Thai) new year!


  1. The screen shot is from Teti Dragas’ session on training the trainers. She was one of my CELTA tutors, and Durham Uni is where I did my CELTA 🙂
    Haven’t listened to GDM’s interview yet, but will tomorrow I think.
    And I’m glad blogs are considered a valid form of professional development, because if they weren’t, I’d know nothing!

    Liked by 1 person

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