"Amazing Stories of Sharing" is something Alan Levine came up with some time ago. Basically, it's about "knowing intrinsically the value of sharing". This is my way of celebrating my own amazing story.
Living on an island doesn't really help where professional development courses are concerned. So, when I read Berni Wall's tweet about a free teacher development workshop for overseas EFL teachers I was absolutely thrilled! I applied, and when I got an e-mail back from Berni I jumped for joy!
What I couldn't really grasp as I read through the workshop's web page is that what I was being offered was so much more than a mere workshop. I was being given the chance to share my own expertise, to share my successes and failures, to learn together, and to create/strengthen bonds with other wonderful educators.
Starting from the moment I got to hug Eva and Culya in the middle of Kings Cross Station this was an adventure I shall cherish for as long as I live. The days just flew by. We were totally immersed in teaching and learning. The workshop revolved around the Brontes and, I must say, we had the privilege of experiencing Literature the way it should be: we read the books, we talked about the authors, we discussed the themes, the cultural and historical backgrounds, we went into how to approach the books in class, how to deal with grammatical vs communicative approaches, how/when/why use technology to improve students' learning, how to keep them motivated, and finally how to go about error analysis. While all this was happening we turned the experience up a notch and visited the Brontes house, went for a long walk through the moors in order to see and feel what it was like to actually be there. At night, after dinner we all sat and watched the movie versions of the books. For eight days we lived and breathed Brontes!
The wonderful part is that while we were going about all this Berni also made sure we got the feel of what it meant to live in Yorkshire. Every day she, her lovely husband and daughters, would surprise us with a typical Yorkshire dish, and having three different countries represented in her kitchen (Turkey - Eva and Culya; Spain - Blanca; Portugal - me) she (and us) would take delight in comparing our cuisine and exchange recipes. Berni made sure we felt completely at home. We got a chance to experience Yorkshire life, and we loved it!
As I slowly get back into the Madeiran way of life, I sometimes just sit and go back to our chilled out conversations over a cup of tea. Or I let my mind roam through the moors, which even just in my mind are still awe striking. Other times I just long to look out the window, gaze at the fields, put a lead on Macguire (Berni’s Dog) and trod happily out the door to take him for a walk.
So you see, this teacher development workshop was so, so much more than a learning experience. It was a chance to be with friends. It was a chance to share, to cause ripples in someone else’s life. It was our “Amazing Story of Sharing”!
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Berni - Creating a teacher workshop - and Eva - Far Far Away From The Madding Crowd; Teacher Workshops - have already shared their thoughts on the workshop. Please, do visit their blogs and read their take on it. Who knows, maybe you'll join Berni for her next workshop and then share with us your own amazing story. ;)