Thursday, September 19, 2013

Fair(er) grading

In August 2013 I was given the opportunity to do workshops at the annual OUP teacher training course and conference here in Budapest. As always, we had some of the most enthusiastic and motivated teachers who were willing to give up their free time, while still on holiday they chose "to come and learn", as a lot of them said.

One of the sessions I did was called "Fair grading", although I do believe there is no such thing, but it's high time we start considering what we can do in the current situation as educators to make grading fairer. 

I started off by saying that OUP had just received a letter from the Ministry of Education asking us to grade all teachers on accredited in-service teacher training courses from 1 to 5 (1= Fail, 2=Satisfactory, 3=Good, 4=Very good, 5= Excellent), as this is going to be part of their newly introduced professional development model called "Életpálya modell". From then on, actually from 1st of September 2013, teachers will have to be given grades which then will be used by the Ministry of Education to decide whether they are eligible to go on the next pay-scale or not. As we were not give any criteria as to how we should give grades to teachers I raised this question to the teachers present at the course, about 100 teachers in total in the YL groups I had. In the same way, as part of this new professional development model - "Életpálya modell" - teachers will have to pass certain exams every 6-7 years, the criteria of which no one knows yet. And so, I thought it would be best for us to work out together a fair grading system until we receive further information on this from officials. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Reflections of a course participant

As I mentioned in my previous post on the Early Language Education course I had written and ran last year in November, I asked one of the course participants to write her reflections on the course. She asked me what I wanted it to be about and I just said "whatever it comes to your mind when you think of it, and I have one request, make sure it comes from your heart". She also asked me if it was OK for her to write it in Hungarian as she is not an English teacher, only happens to speak good English and was very much interested in the topic of the course. Of course, I agreed to that thinking that I would translate her writing. Well, I must admit that when she sent over what she had written and read it for the first time, the honesty that came across her writing gave me goose pimples. And yes, a few tears in my eyes as well. You would guess that I got a bit emotional, but who wouldn't after reading it. Anyway, then I thought that I am simply not capable of translating or rather mediating her feelings, so I'd better wait a few days and then do it. After a couple of weeks, I just read it again and it had the same effect on me. So I'm terribly sorry, but this one I cannot translate. I am sure you have experienced such situations, when you think, this is impossible to translate into another language, or at least it is beyond my capabilities. It is so personal, it so her, it is so revealing that I decided to leave it only in Hungarian. 
Another request she had was for it to stay anonymous, which I totally respect. 

Thank you for this post, my dear "Anonymous", and hope to keep in touch with you in our Facebook group. What you have written is truly humbling. 

To show you of a snippet of one of the things she mentioned you can find a mini-recording from a session at the end of this post.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Teacher Training Course on Early Language Education

The last couple of months of 2012 were quite busy for me, to say the least and I was really lucky to be involved in lots of interesting projects. One of them was to develop and run a 30-hour teacher training course, accredited in Hungary, on teaching children age 3 to 10 for Tempus Public Foundation.

It was a really exciting experience to be writing the course, but I must admit that nothing can be compared to the thrill of doing the workshops, working with a group of 17 wonderful people from a variety of backgrounds: teachers who have not yet taught very young learners and would like to, mums who would like to teach their own kids by making their own English groups with other kids, experienced kindergarten teachers also teaching English looking for more ideas and reassurance, teachers having little or no experience at all with very young learners, teachers having loads of experience with this age-group and looking for 'refreshments and inspirations'.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of them for the hard work they have put into this very intensive course, not only participating actively throughout but also helping us develop an even more successful course for the future participants. Your feedback, Zsuzsa B., Márta B., Zsófia G., Enikő G., Zsuzsanna H., Andrea K., Réka K., Emese K., Rita N., Eszter K., Tímea P., Anna R., Melinda R., Petra S., Emese S., Réka Sz. and Petra T., both formal and informal during and after the course has been invaluable. Also, you have produced some wonderful work during and after the course proving how much enthusiasm and thought you have put into it. Thank you!

And to give you a little taster of what it was like here are some photos taken by Eszter during some of the activities.
  I would also like to take this opportunity to say that the course is going to take place again in Budapest at Tempus Public Foundation in two intensive blocks:
  • the first one March 21, 22, 23 
  • the second part April 15, 16.
For more information about the course content and feedback from the previous participants click here.

Plus, to my greatest delight one of the course participants will soon share her reflections on this first 5-day course on Early Language Education as a guest blogger. I'm really looking forward to reading about her experiences myself. 

If you would like to get both theoretical background packed with zillions of practical tips, come and join us on the course!
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