Sandwich reflection

Along with several other bloggers, I was invited by Joanna Malefaki to reflect on my recent academic and professional achievements as well as weaknesses in a kind of 'sandwich reflection'. After reading Vedrana Vojkovic's great post, I realized I should roll up my sleeves now before it's too late. The thing is that the holiday time is turning me into a version of my favourite cartoon character - Garfield - the permanently lazy and hungry cat. I hope I won't put on the weight I've lost over the past couple of months (one of my greatest achievements - obviously not suitable for a post like this :-))

Let's start with a few professional successes, then. As I already described in one of my recent reflective posts, this academic year has been special for me - for the first time ever I got the opportunity to examine students at the final state exam. For me it was the icing on the cake; at last I could see in reality what the final outcome of all the endeavour looks like (or should look like) and what the effort is actually for. This is an extremely helpful insight for me as a teacher because from now on I'll be able to keep clearer objectives in mind when preparing my future students. Metaphorically speaking, I know where the path leads and I can adjust the content and methods accordingly.

I was also pleased to learn that a group of young learners I've been teaching for three years had done very well in a standardized test aimed at juxtaposing the skills of grammar school and primary school students from various regions of the country. This is a very important result for our school, though I admit it's not just the outcome of the students' hard work and my immaculate pedagogic skills; it's mostly thanks to serendipity, so to speak. I happen to teach a group of talented kids. Full stop.

On a slightly negative note, I experienced a very disappointing feeling when I read my senior students' anonymous feedback back in April. I described the situation in this post and I don't want to delve into it again since most of my regular readers are already familiar with the details.

Back to the sweet part; I'd never boosted my professional development like in the 2013/2014 academic year - I attended conferences, workshops, and webinars. I started blogging, using Facebook and Twitter and I became a member of several online groups such as #Eltpics, #Eltchat, #Czelt, #30GoalsEdu, We're on Air, Reflective Practice Blog Challenge and more. All in all, it's been an exciting and prolific year.

I believe my enthusiasm and excitement have not remained unnoticed because I've been offered the post of the head of the English teachers department (sounds more prestigious that it really is). It only means I'll have more duties and responsibility, such as observing classes and organizing competitions, but I'll also have to handle the red tape stuff, which is not my cup of tea at all. Moreover, for the first time in my life I'll be a class teacher, which I always wanted to be but I never dared to ask for it because other class teachers had warned me. To put it bluntly, nobody wants to be a class teacher once they become one.

A lot of unknown is ahead of me, with its roots in the previous academic year. It's not easy to create an action plan because I need the experience first. All I know is that I'll do everything in my power to stay sane and enthusiastic. I'll need to manage my time carefully, plan everything in advance and in small steps. My motto will probably be something like: Less is more. I suspect I'll have less time for blogging and my online life may suffer a little in general. But I'm ready for the sacrifice because I feel it's an inevitable part of my personal and professional development.

Apparently, I'm an optimist and the positive preveils. It's not because I'm so self-assured or even conceited, but because it's been a good year. Overall, the 2013/2014 was a concentrated and condensed mixture of small successes and new experience, and it wasn't spoiled by the very few failures I came across on the way. I hope the next year will be at least as pleasurable as the previous one.