On Wiping The Slate Clean

Wiping The Slate CleanSometimes we need to wipe the slate clean, take a deep breath, and start anew. With my impending change of career, this might just be the perfect time to do so. Having new goals, new horizons and renewed vigour is just the ticket.

I know that some people fear change, are loath to relinquish all the effort put into a particular path, even if that path may be taking them in the wrong direction. I am not one of those people, I embrace change and actually find it rather exciting.

Setting sail on a new career in teaching or writing, I intend to make the most of each and every day, and when that change does arrive, I will enjoy the excitement of being reborn into a new and exciting experience.

Forever Reading

Forever ReadingDaisaku Ikeda, in his book, Buddhism Day By Day, says this about the act of reading:

‘Reading is dialogue with oneself; it is self-reflection, which cultivates profound humanity. Reading is therefore essential to our development.

It expands and enriches the personality like a seed that germinates after a long time and sends forth many blossom-laden branches.

People who can say of a book ‘this changed my life’ truly understand the meaning of happiness. Reading that sparks inner revolution is desperately needed to escape drowning in the rapidly advancing information society.

Reading is more than intellectual ornamentation; it is a battle for the establishment of the self, a ceaseless challenge that keeps us young and vigorous.’

We all know which book ‘changed my life’, and I can confirm that I fully understand the meaning of the happiness that this encompasses. Books transformed civilisation in the broadest sense when they became widely available via the printing presses of William Caxton and all those who have followed.

The advent of the world wide web and the internet has simply taken that process to the Nth level. The dissemination of information, and the written word has never been so widespread. Although there are associated dangers and we must be circumspect about the source of the information we consume, there has never been an easier time to read.

During my CELTA course I read to expand my knowledge of the English language, currently I am reading to increase my understanding of psychology and the workings of the mind. Whatever we read, be it fact or fiction, it adds to the kaleidoscope of facts and emotions locked in our brains, so read and read and read again, it will never be a waste of your precious time.

The Joy Of Creating A Life

The Colour Of JoyNo need to panic folks, there is no impending patter of tiny feet or anything like that. But it’s been an interesting year for me so far.

Having put in the effort to get my CELTA, I’m now teaching again. Having taken strides to become more involved in the vegan community, in and around Bournemouth, I have forged new relationships.

Sensei has some very wise words to elaborate the reasons why such events have brought joy into my life …

There is no one lonelier or more unhappy than a person who does not know the pure joy of creating a life for himself or herself. To be human is not merely to stand erect and manifest intelligence or knowledge. To be human in the full sense of the word is to lead a creative life.

The struggle to create new life from within is a truly wonderful thing. There is found the brilliant wisdom that guides and directs the workings of reason; the light of insight that penetrates the farthest reaches of the universe; the undaunted will to see justice done that meets and challenges all the assaults of evil; the spirit of unbounded care that embraces all who suffer.

When these are fused with that energy of compassion that pours forth from the deepest sources of cosmic life, an ecstatic rhythm arises to colour the lives of all people.

~ Daisaku Ikeda

Go Compare

Go CompareMy trainee teacher colleagues are looking forward to a short respite from the weekly rota of lesson planning and assignment preparation.

Not that we don’t love what we are doing, but twenty weeks, non stop, would be a pretty tall order.

Although we still have plenty to get on with, and there are assignments due when we get back after Easter, we have a little time to sit back and take stock. Daisaku Ikeda has this useful advice, and it’s not just for teachers …

Do not compare yourselves to others. Be true to who you are and continue to learn with all your might. Even if you are ridiculed, even if you suffer disappointments and setbacks, continue to advance and do not be defeated.

Daisaku Ikeda

On The Fiddle?

On The Fiddle?In case you were wondering, my CELTA course is going rather well, all things considered. Apart from the fact that I am really enjoying the whole experience, it’s a bit like Chinese water torture, the lesson preparation and assignments just keep coming.

Last night was a little milestone on our collective path, half way through the sixteen weeks of study and a brand new gaggle of victims, or more properly, teaching practice students. A lovely group of people, all very keen to learn and very willing to be subjected to our formative teaching skills.

As well as being a new set of faces, these students are still taking their first steps in learning English, as opposed to our previous charges, who were really quite fluent. So the challenges, on both sides of the classroom, were slightly different. There was more emphasis on keeping things simpler and checking that individual students understood what was being taught.

The evening went really well. We were teaching them new vocabulary in the context of music, and they worked really hard. The highlight of the evening, for me, was talking to the oldest student, an 83 year old Middle Eastern gentleman, who was keen to tell me that he has been playing the violin since he was 7. He had the callouses on his fingers to prove it.

It’s so interesting, meeting new people. People who have incredible stories to tell. None of this would have happened had I not made the causes. Karma is a wonderful thing.

L For Learning

L for LearningMy first CELTA evening class went very well last night. An enthusiastic, if slightly overwhelmed group of ten students, we were expertly corralled by our tutors, Emma and Stef, through the course introduction, grand tour and Receptive Skills overview. Roughly five hours of paperwork, listening, learning and above all, fun.

Being immersed into a classroom environment, learning new skills, preparing for a completely new career, is really rather exciting. New terms, new ideas, new jargon an mnemonics, it’s like learning a new language. Ironic in a way, as teaching a new language is what we are being taught to do.

I just love learning now. Why did I never feel this way back in school? Was it me, was it the teachers, was it simply because I had to sit there and suffer in silence? I imagine it was a bit of all three put together. There were certainly teachers I liked, some I hated, and a very few I absolutely loved, Mrs Winfield being maybe the most memorable.

I am really enjoying the part-time teaching I am doing. I think the students enjoy the classes. I really try to mix it up each lesson, so they are engaged and not bored by the same style each time. CELTA is a tough course, but if I get half way to being as good a teacher as Mrs Winfield, I’ll be chuffed to bits.

Certified Fun

I Can Sing A RainbowAnother wonderful day of certified teacher training fun. Just full on learning, does it get any better than this? Despite the long day yesterday, and the rather challenging homework on verb tenses, everyone was in excellent spirits and raring to go.

We organised ourselves into new groups and moved to new places in the classroom, just to change things up a bit, and then carried on with the training. The morning started with grammar. Do you know your future simple from your past perfect? I do, well now I do. That was followed by teaching techniques for speaking and reading, writing and listening.

Who would have thought that there were so many interesting ways to introduce language concepts? All the topics covered, from both days, were leading us towards designing, planning and finally presenting a lesson on a topic of our choice. So after a quick stroll into town to buy provisions, we all settled down for a working lunch.

Our team task was to design a ten minute lesson to teach children, at the elementary learning stage, the colours of the rainbow, as listed in the popular song. We created posters for the names of the colours and put them up around the classroom. We sorted ‘tiddly wink’ style counters into groups, so each colour was represented.

Each member of the team had to be involved in a teaching role at some point, so we organised the task into sub-tasks and set about learning our part. Although we had more than two hours to complete the lesson plan, it is amazing how quickly time passes when you are enjoying yourself. So in no time we had to stop designing and start teaching.

Despite the similarity of the tasks, it was fascinating to see how each team had slightly, even vastly, different ways of approaching them. Some people used the flip chart and had pictures, others used the projector and PowerPoint slides, one team even used a chair as a prop.

All the lessons were excellent, lots of fun, and would have met the requirement nicely. Ian and Ashling’s lesson on Prepositions, on, behind, beside, under etc. deserves particular mention, simply because they used Ian and a chair to demonstrate the words. There was much hilarity at the sight of Ian, and subsequently Ashling and others trying to get under the chair.

Standing in front of a group of people and talking, or in our case singing, for ten minutes might be daunting for some people, but everyone either enjoyed the challenge, or put on a very brave face. The one thing that struck every team, was just how quickly the time went. I’m not sure anyone actually completed all the tasks that they had designed into the lesson. But that was just another aspect of our training, don’t try to fit a quart into a pint pot.

All too quickly the day was over. We all gave and received feedback on the weekend as a whole and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to be delighted to hear that I had passed and will receive my practical training certificate in the post.

Apart from being immersed in a completely difference world, that of teaching rather than IT, and learning a whole new set of methods, tricks and tools, I also met a great bunch of people, with whom I shall be conversing via Facebook and email over the next few months or years, about our shared goals and ambitions in our new careers. How exciting is that? !!!

A Day Of Laughter And Learning

A Day Of Laughter And LearningThe first day of my TEFL teacher training course today was great fun. Although it meant an early start and a late finish, the time really flew by.

The teacher is great, the topics are bringing back lessons from school days and the other students are a really good bunch of local people.

My partner for the day, who also comes from the Bournemouth area, is a Nichiren Buddhist, so apart from the English, we had plenty to talk about. The work was pretty relentless, one topic flowing seamlessly into another, though we did manage to take a stroll, en mass, in the lunchtime fresh air and sunshine.

I know I’ve mentioned it in previous posts, but I love being immersed in the world of learning. With a bit of homework to complete before tomorrow’s second installment, it has been a long day, but I am looking forward to a whole lot more of the same tomorrow.

This is the perfect example of making causes for the effects I want to see, and I promise to let you know how it goes.

Nurturing Others

Nurturing New ShootsTake a moment to think back, way back, to when you were a small child. Now moving slowly forward, try to remember each and every person who taught you, who nurtured you, who moulded you, in even the smallest way, into the person you are today.

It is all too easy to forget these people at times, and also to forget that we have a responsibility to help others grow.

Grass and trees cannot grow without soil. The ‘soil’ that fosters our growth includes our parents and grandparents, teachers, seniors, our mentor, community and company. In any case, everyone has some special place where they grew up, or someone who nurtured them.

Human beings grow as a result of this nurturing ‘soil’, in which they express their ability and make the flowers of their lives blossom, just as the spirit of the rice plant returns to the soil and the stem sprouts to flower and bear grain once again.

We should repay our debts of gratitude to this ‘soil’ in which we developed. This cycle of repaying gratitude will envelop our whole existence. Our true humanity will never blossom if we seek only to develop ourselves.

In Other People’s Shoes

In Other People’s ShoesSo the HCRV diet is going rather well. I’m hoping to get over to Thailand next summer for the inaugural Thai Fruit Festival, but situations may not conspire to make that possible. Never the less, I am trying to make the causes to see it through to fruition.

I have to be careful, however, not to evangelise about the diet too much, even though the benefits are incredible.

It’s easy to sit here, in the quiet of my living room, and pontificate about eating a vegan diet, when I only have myself to consider. Being able to do so real life family situations is so different from the theory, but it does give you a really good measure of how much you want to make the change.

When you read some of the topics on my blog, and think ‘I could never be like that’ or ‘I would like to give that a try, but I just can’t see it working for me’ remember that I’m only human too, and that even though I do try my very hardest to practice what I preach, it doesn’t work all the time.

The trick, if that’s what you would like to call it, is not to give up completely just because you have a slip up. Learn from the slip, in this case seeing things from another’s viewpoint, and be determined to try harder next time. You will get there in the end.

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: