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Friday, August 22, 2008

CELTA, and other means of self-improvement

My lesson today didn't really go as planned. Whilst I think I met my goals as stated on my plan (present models of obligation / no obligation / prohibition and then provide writing practice), I did so in a pretty shoddy manner. Hhm, I may have failed it actually - I'm looking forward to receiving constructive criticism from my supervisor in the morning. It all helps me become a better teacher!

It was a really good experience to go through, sweat though I did at the time. My presentation of the grammar seemed to go on forever - I felt trapped by the way i was going about doing it, and found it hard to move things on.

I have to remember to not be too hard on myself. I've only been teaching in a classroom setting for a total of about 4 hours so far. That's only half a day. Having said that, it's astonishing how much progress has been made in those 4 hours with this intense learning model. Everyone is so much better than when we gave our first lessons two weeks ago.

We've now received our second assignments back (reflective writing, I passed first time this time, hurrah!), and have been given our third assignment, about which I'll tell you more at the weekend, as that's pretty much all I'll be doing :-)

I can't believe we only have a week left. I've grown pretty close to my coursemates, and feel very lucky to have been able to be a part if this with them.

We do all get on remarkably well. Perhaps too well: today there was much hilarity as Alice took a look at the magazine I'd bought to use in my lesson to introduce my students to problem pages. I'd picked Bliss, which is aimed at teenage girls. The man at WHSMITH at London St. Pancreas failed to stifle his laugh when I bought it.

I'd innocently imagined that there would be some problems along the lines of "I fancy this boy at school and don't know what to say to him" and "My dad is an alcoholic - what should I do?"

But no. The questions sent in are pornographic in nature. We're talking a lot of detail, and some pretty bizarre misconceptions. (The only one missing was "can I get pregnant if I French kiss my boyfriend?"

We're all shocked at how things have changed 'since we were young', and imagine the situation whereby I go into class without having checked the suitability of the magazine. References to the problems page pop up in class throughout the rest of the day.




I can scarcely believe that in two weeks from now I'll be flying to Japan to start my new life.

I'm now in week 4 of the second in a series of coaching courses I'm taking with TSI. This one lasts 8 weeks, and consists of weekly written assignments, action steps, and a series of hour-long one-on-one calls.

I'm finding this very beneficial. I'm using it to focus upon career / locating my passion. It's not so much a process designed to make me find 'the answer', but rather, it is helping me to identify the blockages that prevent me from figuring it out in my own time.

I'll keep you informed.

Well, I must sleep now. I can hear the sushi calling 7 hours from now.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

The secret to forgiving

I'm now into week 7 of my TSI coaching course. Initial goals I set myself at the beginning of the course have mostly been achieved, thus, when this week I was asked to once again identify problematic areas within my life, I really struggled. In the end, I had to contact one of my coaches for guidance, and it was through this experience that I came to wonder if my positive outlook on life is actually impairing my ability to identify (and address) problems. I was really struck by how difficult I find it to look at any event or situation and not focus on the good in it (I'm not talking things on the scale of war atrocities here, I'm talking the environment that I live in).

I wonder if this tendency to only see the good in others / situations will impact negatively upon my life in the long term?

There's a risk that by seeing things in this way I could alienate myself from others, or perhaps reduce my own capacity to sympathise and show love when it's needed. I think I've actually seen this happen already to a limited degree, when I have neglected to make an effort to see a situation from the point of view of a friend who is not so inclined to see things positively and subsequently come across as uncaring.

I'm thinking that I need to be careful to strike a balance between communicating my own positive take on events, and acknowledging and responding appropriately to the hurt felt by others.

Another theme in this week's course has been that of forgiveness. If I recall a situation in which I have harboured bad-feeling towards someone whom I feel wronged by, I can feel myself having that black heart. It's painful, it sucks up energy, it's stressful. But ego tells me that they have to apologise or make up for what they've done before I can let go of it, which is a load of rubbish. The thing is, the longer I hold on to blame, the longer I hurt myself. It's just silly, why make life more difficult for myself, when I can just forgive?

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” - Lewis B. Smedes


If I'm finding it difficult to forgive someone, one trick I use is to imagine them dead.

Nice huh.

No, but really, it works. "If this person were to die today would I want them to die knowing that I am harbouring these bad feelings towards them?" The chances are, if it's someone I care about (as is nearly always the case when it comes to strong feelings whether positive or negative), I won't want them to die like that. I'd want them to know that I love them, that I care for them, and that I appreciate what they have done for me.

And of course, there's no reason why they might not die today.

If that trick doesn't work, then clearly the connection between us is weak, and thus I am being a bit daft to be investing so much energy in feeling bad towards them.

Anyway, I can hear the Sheep Man calling so I'd best be off. He doesn't like to be kept waiting.

xxx

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My coaching course

I'm now in week 5 of my 12-week coaching course with TSI. Initially, I'll admit I was pretty sceptical, but my friends and I had talked about coaching a little, and I figured it was at least worth a try. Nothing to lose, right?

So, I signed up for a free coaching session with the founder, Cliff - he'd been highly recommended by a friend of the family.

That first 60 minute call was great. Really taught me a thing or two, and made me realise what excuses I was hiding behind in some areas of life. I was impressed, and so decided to sign up for the basic 101 coaching course that they offer.

There's six of us taking the 101 course, 5 of whom are in the USA. Every week we log in to our group lesson, and work through a series of thought-provoking exercises centred on a particular theme. For example, one week we may focus upon listening. I mean, really listening. That's been an interesting one, and our groups' results have been pretty staggering, seeing developments in relationships that have long been in need of change.

Every week we come together on a group call, discuss the lesson, and discuss our results. It's great to hear what's been achieved, and I must say each week I'm pretty staggered by how far people are pushing themselves - and consequently what great results they are getting. It may be financial, it may be familial, it may be connected with a career. Whatever, there's big changes for the better occurring left, right and centre.

Each week we're teamed up with a different member of the group, to whom we make a couple of calls during the week to help support one another through the change. That's been a real joy, getting to know these people, and being able to share experiences that may help others deal with their particular challenges.

One of the biggest motivators for me is being accountable. By making a commitment to "do X by such and such a date", I'm prompted to do things that I would normally put off, or not do at all. This accountability basically acts to put change in 5th gear. I'm not spending a week thinking about doing something and then doing it the following month - knowing that my friends are behind me in my action I'm able to do it now. Having this supportive environment of people that you have made a commitment to makes a world of difference.

So, all in all, a third of the way through the course I'm very happy with what I've got out of working with TSI. There's tonnes of coaching companies out there, and the thing is with no proper regulatory system you can never be sure what you're getting unless you try it - anyone can call themselves a 'life coach'. But this is a good one, so if you ever consider coaching, I'd add them to the list of people you'd try (I'd also recommend a call with this guy for comparison's sake).

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