Upcoming online workshop (and additional random thoughts and links): Exploring Beliefs about Online Teaching

Last year as so many English teachers migrated to teaching online I couldn’t help but wonder what was driving a lot of teaching decisions. I realize that in the middle of a pandemic and global fucking catastrophe people don’t always have proper chances to think things through meticulously. Thank very much you to those who shared their ideas and experiences.

Then there were the tech enthusiasts/early adopters/wannabe gatekeepers who complained about everyone and their dog running sessions about teaching on Zoom. Some of these folks seemed much more interested in the reputation of online presenting and the need for credentials than in helping teachers who needed it.
[My take: Who cares? It’s not a zero sum game It’s easy enough to run your own session if you don’t like what others are saying. I don’t really approve of anyone trying to get rich quick on the backs of teachers who need tech help or gouging the market but I don’t think this really happened so much. There were probably more tweets condemning it than actual instances of it]

Most of my work in the past few years had been related to asynchronous online PD courses for teachers around the world. At this time last year, I felt like I didn’t have much to say about teaching English to students synchronously online. I did pay attention to the general discourse in ELT (or at least in my Twitter and online bubble). I tried to take note of the beliefs espoused and the new realities that were seemingly taken for granted. I wondered about the basis for what seemed to be suddenly widely accepted practices.

Frankly speaking, for quite some time didn’t think I had so much to offer those teachers who were thrust into this new world. Then I thought, “What about a session exploring all these beliefs that seem to be flying around? What about giving teachers a chance to consider different beliefs and maybe examine what they’ve so far considered to be immutable facts as simply beliefs that can be considered and reconsidered?” I thought I had a nice idea for a helpful online session and was eager to do it.

I applied to a few conferences (both on and offline) and was accepted for most (all?) of them. But, I’ve still never actually given the workshop. The main reason is that I couldn’t justify paying over 50 dollars to attend an online conference. I fully realize that organizations have their reasons and made their decisions and there were lots of tough decisions to make. My own decision was that I’d not pay what I consider to be a lot of money for an online conference. It didn’t seem right to bitch about online conferences fees and then pony up when asked. With so much free (or very close to it) PD around I thought there was no need for this.

For one of the conferences, instead of attending I decided to make a donation of what I would have paid. I felt much happier giving my money to Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation than to a TESOL org.

I should mention that CAMTESOL‘s conference was very reasonably priced. I decided that giving two online workshops was too much for me in that particular weekend of the conference (and I did a session on sources of task difficulty instead).

So with all that as a backstory I will be giving this session this coming Sunday through The ELT Workshop. Here is a teaser from the abstract, “‘Online classes must be synchronous’ and ‘Students must show their faces at all times during online classes.’ These are just two of the beliefs circulating (perhaps uncritically) in the current discourse in ELT worldwide about online teaching.” And here is a link with more more info on the session.

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