Monday, May 3, 2010

The Cat, TESL Toronto

Hi all,

Well, first, Amy's better. In my last post, I mentioned that she wasn't well due to some bladder stones. We took her in to the vet this morning, terrified that we'd have to put our cat down. Well, that turned out to be unfounded. The vet had never seen bladder stones break up so fast! All those prayers must have helped, and it means that Amy is back home, happy, and currently napping on my partner's lap.

TESL Toronto's Spring conference was last weekend. I went there in order to brush up on my skills for work, of course, and enjoyed it immensely. Like all TESL Canada and TESL Ontario-certified teachers, there's a lot of Professional Development that I'm expected to do to keep my Certification updated.

The first workshop I attended in the morning was on dealing with LGBTQ issues in an ESL, immigrant-based classroom. A lot of cultures are still very much opposed to those who have a differing sexuality than what they consider to be standard. We were one of the smallest workshop groups, which actually turned out well: it made for a more comfortable learning environment. As someone who is reasonably familiar with LGBTQ topics, I was hoping for a more practical approach, but considering that some of the folks present weren't really sure what LGBTQ stood for (it's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Queer, in case you hadn't guessed), it was useful to have even a general introduction. For my part, I was intrigued to learn some of the issues we have in the classroom in presenting non-heterosexist materials. For example: most grammar books (like the one I use!) focus exclusively on male-female relationships. This is probably not an intentional slight, but it's still a form of exclusivity that can make LGBTQs feel unwelcome.

In short, it's another aspect teachers have to consider, in addition to race, culture, and gender itself, among a host of other sensitive topics in the class room.

The second half of the day was spent in a Vocabulary Module. A really fun system for teaching Vocabulary with low prep, almost entirely practical, and a blast when you had 60-odd teachers racing against the clock to beat each other in the activities. I'm definitely using it in my class!

Other than that, back to work this week, with a PD day on Friday. It's one of those weeks, I guess.

I'm also going to go see the Harry Potter exhibit at the ROM this week, and, of course, Iron Man 2.

Have a good week, everybody!