Well, it's CHRISTMAS!!! The elders and siblings are entering the arena in a matter of hours. We will celebrate Christmas in the Holdyland. These overseas Chrimbos are becoming more normal now, for me at least. We've had them in Marrakesh, London, Barnstaple (N.Devon), Holme (Peterborugh), even on the beach in Thailand.
The last few months have been quite something, I am pleased how fast I can adapt, and how my profession, and experience, creates opportunities for me straight away. As a UN spouse, it's good that I can find routine when faced with unfamiliar territory. My MA has been bubbling along too, so I've managed to progress as a student, and do something useful.
I have done some English language teacher training in the West Bank. The first was at Hebron University. It was a week's course. The programme is called Classroom Language and was well received (and even got press!) by the 24 participants. One saying to me that she really wanted to be an English teacher now! High praise indeed from my pre-service trainees. They were a really enthusiastic group (all female) who gave me an excellent (and my first of the year) Christmas card which takes pride, of place, in the centre of the sideboard.
I also attended the third Quality English Language Teaching Symposium at Birzeit University and delivered a practical workshop on writing, and feedback, that was marked in it's difference to the research paper presentations that seemed to dominate. It was very interesting and heartening to see Palestinian university lecturers share their research in short presentations with peers (I am a big supporter of sharing). This day also gave me a sense of the local standards about how research is conducted, shared, and critiqued. It is my area of focus this semester on my MA, as I develop my researcher competence (DRC).
The DRC is going okay, though I have suffered a number of stalls, I feel it is probably symptomatic of research generally. I have had to dust myself down after a few wobbles, and crises....why doesn't my f*&@ing research method give me the answer to my research question!!....why did I tell my interviewee the topic of my research?!!!....why didn't i read that paper, before doing the interview?! This kind of thing. :) All in all, this is supposed to be a learning experience, I am and I am nearly there.
I have applied both deductive codes and listened for inductive criteria in my data, and it's starting to give form to a 'theory'. By taking a grounded theory approach, I am able to use the data I have generated to make my own theory: there's no pressure to match to someone elses' already existing theory.
My research question is about one teachers thoughts on their continuous professional development. For me it was important to get to know the territory quickly, so that I could make a meaningful contribution or intervention, as an outsider, fairly quickly, as part of my dissertation, next semester.
Research has been a big chunk of my life this last three months, I have also been doing some research on pre-service English Language Teacher Education in the West Bank and Gaza, and also took part in the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language 's (IATEFL's) Research Special Interst Group (RESIG) online discussion of an article by Simon Borg. It was a good experience, though it was only a week long in its duration. It was definitely another learning opportunity.
This year has been pretty manic. I started it in Switzerland (that was a good party with some bad singing), jetted in to Jordan, 'survived' Syria, led workshops in Lebanon, went mad in Manchester for the summer, saw some beautiful sculptures at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, got taken to one side at Tel-Aviv airport, and queued at Qalandia checkpoint.
I look forward to 2012, and hopefully to less international movement, though Glasgow, Amman, Birmingham (UK), Muscat and Battle are all penciled in already, my stinking great carbon footprint. Best to you and yours, a peaceful season to all.