How I Try to be a Beam – Goal 1 of the 30 Goals Challenge

I have been following Shelly Terrell’s 30 Goals Challenge with great interest. In a few words, Shelly proposes a set of short-term goals related to education. The goals aim at having us teachers reflect upon many aspects of our practice, of our lives in an attempt to help us develop and become even better teachers – and better people. You can read more about the 30 Goals Challenge (and maybe, who knows, join in?) on Shelly’s Teacher Boot Camp. As I said, I’ve been following it, but hadn’t gotten to actually joining in. I’ll probably not make it as timely as I should, but the way I see it (and with Shelly’s blessing, I hope!) better late than never.

 

So I’ll start posting about the goals, one by one, here. The first one is about being a beam – as in being part of a collective support system to other teachers or students. It’s about, along with other people, being a beam to something that promotes education.

 

Image by Will Cyr - Creative Commons (source: Flickr)

 
 
I actually had to think a little to find an answer to this one. Right after I watched the video in which Shelly explained the first challenge I immediately started thinking of things I, individually, do to support others (be them other teachers or students). But I could not think of one single thing I did as part of a group effort - and that was a key point in the challenge, it had to be someone you did as part of a group. How could that be possible? I am always getting involved in collaborative projects, joining efforts… So why couldn’t I think of anything to talk about for the first goal? it took me a while but I was able to think of some things. I think they didn’t come to mind sooner because I didn’t think of them as an effort I made – but rather as the group’s effort. Does that make any sense? It’s as if any initiative I am in as part of a group I categorize as not mine. Weird rationale? It probably is… And it brought a (maybe even stranger) question to my mind: Does this mean I don’t see myself as an important part of the group? Does this mean I don’t see myself as part of the group at all. I say maybe to the first question, no to the second. After thinking about it I came to the conclusion that on that initial moment I had only considered my individual efforts because they had been my ideas. And that if I just join a group effort I don’t really feel as it is mine to talk about. Did I make any more sense now? Is it just me or does anyone else feels like that? Does this mean I am an individualist? That I work better alone?
 
 
From the things I was able to identify I chose to talk about two things. One in my virtual life, and one in my physical one. The first is my being part of Blog4Edu, a project led by Shelly Terrell and Greta Sandler, both of whom I am proud to have in my PLN. The objective of the project is to provide all kinds of support to new educators who enter the blogging universe (as well as veterans). They have video tutorials, a support line a featured blog on the website and a comment crew – volunteers who are encouraged to visit the blogs listed and leave comments, an essential motivator for anyone who has a blog :-) I am very proud to be on the comment crew, despite acknowledging I haven’t really done as good as a job recently as I would like to.
 
The second thing, the one in my “physical” life – and in which I still am not actively involved but hope to be soon – is related to a new project the school I work in – ABA – is involved in. It is a TTC (Teacher Training Course) for English teachers from the public sector in Recife (my hometown). See, I am not sure about the situation of ELT in public schools around the world, but in Brazil it’s pretty bad. Teachers commonly have to deal with no structure (sometimes no desks or boards), no resources, very small wages and many times uninterested/barely literate students. It’s a completely different reality from mine. There will be 2 groups of 15 student-teachers each, having classes every Saturday during this year. The teachers in charge of these groups are two very committed, very qualified teachers – Johnny Presbitero and Scott Chiverton – who are eager to get started. Classes will begin nest week. the objective of the project is to help these teachers with their professional development through classes in English (which will be an opportunity for them to improve their language skills) about ELT methodology and practices. Hopefully the course will provide these teachers with knowledge and tools to make their jobs easier despite the difficulties they face everyday. So far I have only taken part in the interviews to determine the applying teachers’ linguistic levels. But I have talked to both teachers about my taking a more active role, including conducting a workshop on continuous online PD (PLNs, twitter, blogs, etc) which is accessible to everyone, and something I am very passionate about. I look forward to being part of this.
 
This is how I am trying to be a beam, to support education in my hometown and around the world. Pretentious? Maybe? But the internet has sure made geographic distances  irrelevant in some aspects. I hope I can do my best and be a solid beam in both projects.
(P.S. I know most people might find this silly, but I thought it was an interesting coincidence. After I had started this post I realized this is my 30th post – quite fit for my start in the 30 Goals Challenge I think ;-))
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9 comments on “How I Try to be a Beam – Goal 1 of the 30 Goals Challenge

  1. Rorey Risdon says:

    This is a great reminder of one of my ultimate goals, to start the 30 Goals Challenge after I am finished with the Teacher Challenge on blogging with students. I am so thankful that great professionals are putting projects like this together. I look forward to reading about your progress. Cheers!

  2. David Warr says:

    Charity starts at home. Hope it goes very well for you all.

    • Thanks David :-) Me too. I was just sad for a moment because only 30 teachers will take part in the classes, and there’s over 100 who applied to it. But we’re working on a parallel project to offer free workshops on varied topics to the teachers who didn’t get in. This way they’ll have some PD and contact with the language, and we also hope to get some of our teachers out of their shells and into presenting (and sharing their expertise). The way I see it, everyone wins :-)

  3. Ceri says:

    Hi Ceci,
    What a great post – of course :)
    I’ve been following Shelley’s 30 goals as well and been full of admiration and respect for everyone who’s taken part.
    What struck me about this first challenge was that when I read “be a beam” I’d taken beam to mean a beam of light, a a beacon, a source of inspiration, a light in the storm, those were the analogies that came to mind.
    And after reading your post it strikes me that you – and all the others taking part are beams in both senses – strong support structures and guiding lights :)
    Good luck with the teacher training project, it sounds fantastic. I hope you’ll be blogging about it!

    • Hi Ceri,

      Funny you should mention that – it is also how I had interpreted the goal the first time I read/hear about it. (Great minds and all ;-)…) And that’s what I began writing about, but then I spoke to Shelly (to make sure I’d understood it right) and she set me straight. And I hadn’t thought of how being a support also means being a “lighthouse” for someone. But you’re right!

      Thanks for the good wishes… I hope I can take an active part in the teacher training project. It is a fantastic project. Not sure I’ll have much to blog about it though, since I’ll be just helping here and there. :-)

  4. Marisa Pavan says:

    Hi Ceci!

    Great post! I think you’re a natural beam and that’s why you’ve found it hard to describe concrete examples. I’ve felt identified with the situations you’ve narrated. I consider that Shelly’s 30 Goals is a priceless opportunity for us, educators, to grow professionally and in our lives. I guess that we behave in our virtual lives in the same way as we do in our real lives. As fasr as I’m cocnerned, I do my best to be always there when someone needs support just because I feel that one of my missions in life is to be supportive and I enjoy doing so.
    Hugs!
    Marisa

    • Hi Marisa!

      Well… you left me beaming :-) I share your views Marisa, on always doing my best tohelp when I can, be it by responding to a PLN shoutout on twitter, giving ideas of resources or activities; be it by reviewing someone’s work or writing a reference letter. It might seem silly (and many times I am) but I think if I can help, why not? Shelly’s 30 goals have been a great self-reflecting exercise for me, especially for realizing things I do right, acknowledging my victories and qualities – I have to admit I have a hard time patting myself on the back, and her challenge has been helping me see it. That and therapy! Lol!

      Thanks for the support :-)
      XX
      Ceci

  5. seburnt says:

    Great insight into yourself, Ceci, even if it has resulted in more questions to consider! After a little reflection, in the groups that I belong, I think of anything that comes from it as the group effort, not mine individually (ie. if I were explaining to someone a great lesson we’d come up with even if I were the originator of the idea, I wouldn’t say “And I thought of this lesson” whenever this case). However, that wouldn’t preclude me from feeling an important member of said group. You should too.

    Interesting case RE your TTC (I’m still not very comfortable with that acronym as it is the public transportation system in Toronto!); what a great situation for them to learn from you. However, who are these teachers in the public system? Are they educated themselves? Do they have access to internet if their classrooms, school and students don’t?

    I’m reminded of last year when a colleague of mine and I were writing texts for an ELT project in Myanmar. We didn’t know what type of technology was available for the teachers, like even pens or paper. It certainly requires a different approach and idea bank than the “use tech in the classroom because it’s great” starting point I usually come from.

    =)

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