Saturday, February 11, 2012

Week 5 - That's How the Light Gets In

Dinner was served
Photo on Flickr by owly9

"There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." Leonard Cohen

When asked to provide my motto in Week 1, I shared this quote. It came in handy this week again when I started suffering from some self-doubts. Let me explain.

This was an eventful week for me. The workload was heavier than I had become used to. We had one additional task that we didn't have to do, but how could I skip the opportunity to create my first webquest? It was fun and I can see this type of activity as something that I can use with my students in the future. I am always on the lookout for "interesting homework", something that will get them working on their English from home while having fun at the same time. Webquests and project-based learning might be the answer.

Creating the webquest was an enjoyable activity, but it took me a whole evening and left me with less time to do other things in the course. Add to that the fact that I didn't get any work done on Tuesday, and the anxiety was back. I had written my first forum post on Monday, but when I came back to the forum on Thursday there was a lovely discussion going on and I wasn't participating. Was it too late for me to join?

Join I did, but was my Monday post good enough? To add insult to injury, we had to do some self-assessment on our forum posts this week. I had to go through the Week 1 rubric and give myself a mark.

This goes against what I was taught at school. Good students should always be "modest" and "the teacher knows best". As a teacher, I am constantly trying to teach my students how to be independent learners and in my school we have our students go through the CEF "can do statements" and reflect on what they have learnt. It leads to some nice discussions. That is what I do as a teacher, but as a student I am stuck in the traditional school.

Assessing myself has taught me more about self-assessment than any theory could. It felt awkward. But I have a confession to make: I gave myself the best mark. Why? Because I decided to mark myself the same way I would mark my students. And now I will try to teach my students to be as lenient to themselves as they would be to others. Because I need to undo what the traditional school did to them. I know there is a severe critic inside them and that this critic keeps telling them their work is not up to scratch. I know that, because I have discovered this same severe critic inside me this week. I have fought this critic and I have won an important battle. But she is still inside me.

I have another confession to make: I am a perfectionist. As a teacher I am not strict. Between the stick and the carrot, I always choose the carrot. But when it comes to my own work, I am never quite satisfied. For example, right now I am worried about the fact that I haven't started writing the first draft of my project yet and the time is running out (or so it seems). I have got the final project in my head, more or less, and I have even started implementing some aspects of my project with my students. But I haven't written anything yet.

Why I am telling you all this? Because I need to get rid of these feelings and I need to vent somewhere, and my personal blog seems to be a good place for that. Also, because you might be going through this as well and reading my post might make you feel that you are not alone. Above all, I am doing this because our students might be going through this and, before we can teach them how to use rubrics and do some self-assessment, they need to deal with these feelings first. This is where they will need to get a lot of help and guidance from us.


  1. Don't worry, Natasa.
    I haven't written anything yet. I understand there are deadlines, but I still think it's too soon. Besides, we already have bits of it in our different project steps. I'm going to use them when writing the whole thing. I think that was also the purpose.
    It's good to share these feelings, though. Some people use the blogs to summarize what they read and wrote in the discussion boards, but we have already read that. I prefer a more personal reflection on what is going on and how we feel about it.

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Luisa. I also think it is too early, we are in the middle of the course now. My classes haven't started yet and I don't even know who my students will be (or how many students I'll end up with). I have to believe that everything will click into place somehow.
      Mine is a reflective blog. I can't separate my feelings from my reflections and, besides, I see blogs as personal spaces. My blog is my virtual home and, when you come to visit, I want you to feel at home here. But then you have to take me as I am, even when I am complaining.
      I definitely think that we should share these feelings, I am sure we all have them from time to time.

    2. Dear Natasa,

      I think I’m the only participant who feels the way you feel. Indeed, I’m also worried about my performance in this course. Frankly, this week really makes me work harder and I am running behind others in completing all assignments. I’m not satisfied with my own performance since I’m such perfectionist as you but ironically tend to finish all works almost in the deadline day. I often keep my planning about what I’m going to write on my mind and do not write it immediately, this just yield unsatisfying result. However, I’m thankful for having deadline so I can force myself to complete all assignments before the deadline. Sometimes, there are so many ideas to express but I often put them off until I write nearly deadline. Phew...

    3. Oh Vita, I am sorry. I got so wrapped up in last week's reading that I completely oversaw your comment. I always answer other people's comments, but I somehow didn't this time. Must have been the workload.

      I am sure others feel like us at some poing, whether they express it or not. Week 5 was tough, then Week 6 was more relaxed. Week 7 will probably be tough. Or not. We will see.

      Don't worry about your performance. I am like you - I have a lot of ideas and if I let myself just brainstorm for too long, my workload will pile up. Try to post something in the Nicenet forum a day before the deadline. Then, if you have another idea, post again. That's what I do. I force myself to post my first batch of ideas early in the week, even though I feel I am not ready or it isn't quite good enough.

      Hope it helps.