There it was again: that buzz. Sitting among other participants in an auditorium in Trinity College, Dublin in July 2016, this is what struck me first. Surrounded by participants from almost twenty different EU countries there was a feeling of excitement, the anticipation of what was to come.
This seminar was one milestone in my adventure of discovering new methods in teaching.
My journey started in 2016 when I participated in a structured study visit to Iceland. We were standing in a college which had been built for learning: Classrooms, (cell-phone free) discussion rooms, computer rooms areas to lounge, nooks to concentrate and work alone. This building had actually been designed to facilitate different learning styles, to foster collaboration but also to offer places to retreat if necessary. Teachers who are “guides on the side” and not “sages on the stage.” That was the first time I experienced “that buzz”, a vision of how teaching and learning can be. I remember thinking, “I want that.” After the visit, I contacted one of the English teachers at the college to ask her for some examples of how she taught subject content.
That’s when I started exploring digital media in teaching. I created hyperdocs for my students but soon realised that I needed to know more on how to integrate digital media into teaching to give my students more support when they needed it. Craving more input, I attended the seminar in Dublin in the first two weeks of summer holidays. Thanks to Neil Sullivan, who taught the course, I returned to Germany and used my new knowledge to prepare my students for their final exams in English. I also completed two introductory courses in moodle and I am currently in the midst of a distance learning course so that I can attain a further qualification as an E-Learning Manager.
It was a couple of months after Dublin that I suddenly realised what I had experienced in Iceland. I was reading the book “Flipping 2.0” compiled by Jason Bretzmann when it hit me. In that Icelandic college, I had witnessed flipped classrooms. I had seen students being given responsibility for completing their tasks, for taking control of their learning and provided with support when they needed it.
Iceland showed me why I should rethink my approach to teaching. Dublin showed me how I can use digital media to supplement learning. Creating interactive exercises and videos for my learners has taught me to view teaching content through the eyes of my students, anticipating where they may encounter problems and supporting them when they need help.
Iceland and Ireland played an important part in my professional development. I would recommend both courses to any teacher who has that feeling deep down that something needs to change.