Fostering a growth mindset: my online mentoring experience

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Some time, ago, I received this email from Jim Wright, Principal,  Pilgrims:

“We want to offer an online mentoring service for teachers so they can get one to one online mentoring for any problems / difficulties they are facing in the classroom. I’m doing this with a great trainer in Spain names Jennifer Schmidt…”

I got so excited about helping Pilgrims ,which I love so much , and therefore, I  didn’t have to think twice about helping with the project piloting ,representing ETAL ( English Teachers Association of Larissa)

Here’s the project, summarized.

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Cultivating Creative Learning

“How can I  MAKE my students to do things? “ There is no miracle or magic potion that can make this happen. However, we  can help students in developing their brains, cognitive and non-cognitive skills, perspective, creativity, self-efficacy,  behavior, and outlook in life.

When we focus on building a growth mindset and helping students  develop as independent learners with positive self-efficacy, we create a strong foundation in students in their development as PEOPLE. We can then begin cultivating life-long learners and productive members of society. 

Jennifer Schmidt of The Cogent Construct  based in Spain has partnered with Jim Wright of Pilgrim’s based in the UK to offer a new and innovative online teacher coaching  / mentorship program. In keeping with the philosophy of both entities, the coaching will be based on providing teachers with the necessary tools to be as CREATIVE as possible.

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About growth mindset, in a nutshell: Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset. They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset (those who believe their talents are innate gifts).

Jennifer, made clear that we were in the stages of gathering information on what teachers really need and that our coaching would be based on the “Art” of Teaching. 

However, we needed to combine this with the real issues teachers were facing, since some things are  in our control and others are not.

Jennifer, wanted to focus on the solvable problems and provide teachers with new ways of approaching teaching. 

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Jennifer, emphasised that: “ I know the typical issues (in many… but not all cases): time, parents, standardized tests, lack of support, too much content, etc etc. We want to focus on things that teachers can actually use by taking real issues from the classroom and attempting to improve situations through CREATIVE techniques. Much of what we will do in the coaching sessions will be based on the roots of how people LEARN and THINK…including the teacher.

We would like to focus on things within their control. What do the teachers feel very confident in and what do they feel they are lacking in their teaching skills and knowledge of how students learn.”

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This information would be useful to discuss, in our Skype calls.

First of all, we were sent a list of videos to watch, to help us get the main idea of our Skype sessions.

Video on growth mindsets

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_contUWn_TJTrnU

Video on differentiating instructions

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcgMIril5bM

Article on learning menus

https://shakeuplearning.com/blog/interactive-learning-menus-choice-boards-using-google-docs/

Video on growth mindset and effective praise

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yct0VLJG4M8

THE PILOT in brief 

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 The new Pilgrims product, is about offering one to one training and teacher coaching/ mentorship via Skype. 

Jennifer, as a professor of Learning Theory and Teaching Methodology ,is constantly asked :”How can I MAKE my students do xxx?”

“These questions, are related to mindsets. Do we believe we have been born with limited intelligence and skills or do we see these as things that can grow? This is known as growth mindset”, answered Jennifer.

The pilot wasn’t actually a course.

Our training / coaching was based in growth mindset with many other “learning” techniques included. The idea was that, the training would be done in stages and would be personalized for each teacher. The training / coaching was one to one. 

Jennifer, ran the pilot in May 2019, with 6 teachers, from Greece,Portugal and Slovakia. I was one of the three Greek teachers.

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We ,actually , piloted the introductory level. It was 6 sessions ,of one hour each. 

The sessions were related to gaining an understanding of the 8 main areas of growth mindset. In addition, we  were asked to take on new tasks over the 6 sessions in order to apply growth mindset to ourselves, because, as research has shown, knowing the components has nothing to do with putting them into practice. We, then, discussed how to apply the areas of growth mindset to our classrooms. We created goals and doable action plans.

The three phases of the project

The introductory phase, is generally meant to ease the students into a new mindset.

The next phase will be the practitioner phase.

The third phase will be the master phase.

The best format for Jennifer would be to offer group ” live” sessions ,face to face first and then, offer the one to one coaching online.

Once our ETAL Association board had chosen 3 of its members, to take part in this intensive piloting, we contacted Jennifer who then, sent us more videos to watch .

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Here is a quick video to review fixed and growth mindsets. You will see two characters: Jay and Ann.

We are not trying to make all kids like Ann. However, we are trying to help them be a bit less like Jay. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUWn_TJTrnU

She also attached a few charts and images related to effective effort. 

Learning Menu: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcgMIril5bM

Choice boards and more: https://www.smore.com/z12ay-tic-tac-toe-choice-boards-menus

http://curry.virginia.edu/uploads/resourceLibrary/nagc_choice_menus.pdf

Carol Tomlinson

http://www.ssgt.nsw.edu.au/documents/3_content_pro_etal.pdf

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In our first Skype session, I decided  that I would put effort into doing less teachers talk  / explanations and more work on differentiating instruction.  

I looked for instructions about how to manage this, while at the same time , help my most shy students to  project their voice ,during the lessons, and here’s my most favourite idea about voice projection:

“The next time someone tells you to “project” or to “speak up,” remember that projecting your voice is much more than just making it louder.

  1. You project your voice by allowing it to shine with your personality, and having confidence that you have something unique to say.
  2. You project your voice with passion for your message by setting a clear intention.
  3. And you project your voice by developing a resonant sound that is supported with your whole body through air and energyWhen you do these three things, you will be heard.”

The main idea is that, all kids have potential and we have to start giving them effective strategies to help them with their goals.We are there to help them, not to feed their negativity. Once they have the strategies and put them into play, we should never forget to praise them.

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In the next two sessions, we talked about mistakes and the power of “YET”!

Mistakes, are opportunities to learn! All teachers,should remind our students that, we want them to be the best they can be and that our brains, learn from mistakes!

“We can learn from error!  It’s the brain making new connections, it’s the brain growing” said Jennifer.

We have to teach our students strategies on how to handle the mistake. It’s not just  about persistence-it’s also about strategies to make it work!

In my class,I used the “ Exit tickets” reflection strategy to help my kids reflect on their learning.

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I told my students that we have to celebrate our mistakes-not blame others, not make excuses, not avoid our responsibilities- in order to be able to grow!

Jennifer told us about the kinds of mistakes we make and asked us to give our students a series of challenges to help them build their self-confidence and prove to them that they can do things!  What a transformational experience, for our students! 

We may have all noticed that,students with a fixed mindset are more likely to believe they can fail and that by doing so their abilities will be questioned. Just the act of hitting obstacles would prove to them that they aren’t capable of overcoming them. Students with a growth mindset, on the other hand, don’t really see failure as on option – obstacles are just perceived as opportunities to improve and learn, and by being faced with them and, generally something new, we get smarter.

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Jennifer, illustrated that, this difference further with an interesting remark about language and how we use it to rate success. She mentioned, how saying “not yet” to students instead of saying they failed a class/a test is a much better way to show them that even if they have difficulties overcoming something now, the time will come when they will succeed if they continue tackling the obstacle from different angles. The use of “yet” shows that there is a learning curve, and points to the process, not the outcome. This also tells children that they aren’t being taught to learn simply for grades, but for their future and it encourages them to dream big and think about what they want to do with their lives, instead of focusing only on what they are currently achieving in school.

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Video for kids

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EoWLgWCcpWo

A little girl happy about her mistake

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=123&v=-FBbx8R4gXU

Carol Dweck on Mistakes

https://www.kidsinthehouse.com/teenager/education/learning-styles/value-making-mistakes

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Also,here are two videos about Marva Collins, whom we talked about in 2nd session. 

Part 1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8b1Behi9FM

Part 2

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpAlOY0K14c

Last,but not least, here is a great video, on the power of YET. This video has had over 40 million views!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLeUvZvuvAs&list=PLU_DKLEHvBtFe14PcaYhC1T-oBL4SVfSM  

By the way, I also found this “Digital Menu” link, quite interesting and worth sharing! 

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1fb3sk6qOntQBqacRgBJ7L0tbu-jF4cSYRwPJr5hl0sM/edit?usp=sharing

In our next session, we discussed the benefit of giving students challenges. 

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Jennifer , asked me to find a fun physical challenge I could give the students were I knew they were going to make mistakes. Mistakes are part of the learning process in order to complete the challenge. 

The challenge procedure

First,I discussed with them the following: the types of mistakes, how to handle mistakes, not blaming or making excuses, and reflection after the challenge.

Then, I gave my students a “Talent vs Effort “challenge , which I found highly motivating!

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I asked the kids, if they had been taking performance lessons of any kind, such as acting, singing, dancing, gymnastics or playing a musical instrument, then we were  all set with an excellent stage act. 

If they hadn’t been taking lessons but had their heart set on singing, dancing or acting, they should also go for it. During their performances in class we talked about not getting mad if their feedback wasn’t  completely positive. “Use any criticism you receive to improve your act” , I said. Then, I asked volunteer classmates to actually, try the challenge, under their classmates’ instructions, to see for themselves how demanding it was and therefore,respect their classmates’  hard work and effort. Their talented classmates, actually, taught them strategies to help them do the challenges! I decided to write this quote,on the board: “ It’s not a competition, it’s a challenge”.

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We also worked on the techniques to help them gain control when they make mistakes ie laughing, humour, let’s start over…

Finally, we reflected on what didn’t work and of course, we used praise, after each challenge!

Our motto was : “ We never give up! We help each other transfer”! 

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The outcome was that, they quickly, recognized that, while the realization of our own dreams requires that we put forth great effort. That effort must be more than simply investing  in ourselves – our talents and abilities.

Also, the fact that, to make a worthwhile contribution, we must also sow into the lives of others as well as the environment and the society in which we live. 

In the following Skype session, we discussed another area of Growth Mindset: Difficulties and Obstacles / How to handle problems.

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It happens to all of us, we are working away, in a groove and out of the blue, we are hit with an obstacle. Something comes into our life experience that knocks us off course and shakes us to the core. What do we do? Fall apart, or overcome the obstacle in our way with everything we’ve got? The answer is clear, and can be tackled easily if we are practicing a “Growth Mindset.” Something, worth teaching our students ,too.

We also talked about the power of project-based learning ( PBL) . It can reveal children’s hidden talents and hidden genius, both to their teachers and even to the children themselves. They connect students to their communities and help them envision the many ways they can contribute to the world and have an impact on real people.

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 I was going to teach my students these skills through skill transfer. In order to do so,I had them come up with strategies to deal with a problem and then share their findings with others….and also try to use these strategies themselves. 

The problem

I decided to ask my students to think about this problem:  “How they can improve their English skills, during their Summer holidays” . After they had looked for possible solutions to it, they had to create group posters, with the suggested  solutions on.

My question

“ What language skill  do you most struggle with? What are some effective ways you have found of improving that skill? Let us know, on your posters.”

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The procedure

First, I told my kids what  PBL is about and that memorising facts has nothing to do with real life learning. On the contrary, PBL has.Then ,we looked into info about how to improve our English skills, on the internet, together and used the KWL chart to gather information. They were free to add their own suggestions on their group posters, of course. 

Finally, the kids created their lists of strategies and their beautiful posters: “ This is how we can improve our English, this Summer”

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Here’s a relevant video to watch.

Problem Based Learning (not just for kids)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGoJIQYGpYk

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In our last session, session 6, we discussed feedback. 

Jennifer, asked me some quick questions at the end of the session to give her feedback to help make the pilot training / coaching even better.

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In that session, we also, talked about the fact that, the feedback teachers give students,can influence their mindsets in surprising ways. For example, while praise for intelligence, such as “You’re so smart!” is considered by some to be motivating, research demonstrates that it can actually have a negative impact on student motivation and achievement.

Studies have shown that, praise for intelligence actually leads to less persistence, less enjoyment, and worse performance than praise for effort. When students are praised for having high ability, they come to attribute their success to a fixed (and unchangeable) quality of themselves, while students praised for effort believe that their performance is  subject to improvement.

Here’s an interesting video on feedback , for you, to watch.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=157&v=QaxS1LCp9pU

Conclusion and my FUTURE PLANS

Here’s my idea about the future implementation of “growth mindsets” in my class.

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This year, Greek NBA basketball player Giannis Antetokounbo,  took the next step in his larger than life rise to NBA superstardom by winning the 2018-19 NBA Most Valuable Player award. Against all obstacles and odds!

Right on par, he isn’t satisfied with winning the MVP award. He wants more. He had a warning to the rest of the league during his acceptance speech on the Award Ceremony  night, “This is just the beginning. My goal is to win a championship. I’m going to do whatever it takes to make that happen.” If there’s anything we know about the Greek Freak, it’s that when he sets his mind on something he usually gets it.

Here’s Giannis’ EMOTIONAL SPEECH – Most Valuable Player Award – 2019 NBA Awards

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcBHO4aoYIE&feature=youtu.be

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxvA3ZEsrU8&feature=youtu.be

When I watched that video, I thought: “Let`s teach our students about Giannis! What an inspiring role model for them”!

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Giannis, is a great example for my students to teach them the results of growth mindset.

Over the years, we all have to join the example of Giannis Adetokounmpo,  in our schools! To teach our children how they can succeed and realize their dreams , by exploiting their talents, with faith, perseverance, hard work and morals!  Yes, Giannis, is the bright example, in the dark years we live in. He proves that “ When there is a will, there is a way” ! On the way to growth, the essentials are: a loving family, supportive teachers and people who will believe in you,  courage and perhaps a little audacity, great faith in yourself and your strengths , definitely, ethos and respect ! 

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Thank you Pilgrims, Jim Wright and Jennifer Schmidt ,for the opportunity you have  offered us!

pilgrims photo
As for me, stay tuned, for next school year’s projects that will wrap up growth mindset with providing steps on how to help students engage with influencers and how to measure and track results.

My Pilgrims experience!

The reason I decided to apply for a Comenius grant to be able to go to Pilgrims and attend a professional development course, back in 2011, was the same reason most  teachers go to Pilgrims for: new ideas, to be refreshed and to experience the unique Pilgrims difference, which focuses on our continuous personal and professional development.

Its international environment, ensures you practice and refresh your own English at all times, and also make new friendships, that last a lifetime!  

Six years later, in 2017, I came back to Pilgrims, on a scholarship! The “Bonnie Tsai scholarship” which I am very proud of !  Bonnie, was the Pilgrims Teacher Trainer who changed my teaching, for ever!

Actually, words cannot express how grateful  I am to have been chosen as the scholarship recipient. My professional development has always been of upmost importance to me, and to be rewarded in this way is very humbling. That scholarship was an absolute answer to my prayers, as life does not always go as we plan. I will forever be thankful for this gift, and I cannot thank Pilgrims enough for that.

To learn more about the Bonnie Tsai scholarship, please, visit here.

Back to 2011….What colleagues who had been there before, had assured me of before I arrived there for the first time was that, the Pilgrims Humanistic approach was the key element, which made all the difference.

The Pilgrims Humanistic Approach, in brief:

  • Effective teaching & learning engages the whole person – mind, body and heart
  • The learner is the central person in the act of learning
  • Creativity, involvement and enjoyment are the essential elements for lifelong learning

“Pilgrims, does not teach a method, but teaches people”.

“Wow”! I thought, back then….

After a really long journey from my hometown in central Greece, to Canterbury, which lasted about 15 hours (!!) and suffering from sciatica and terrible pain, I arrived on Kent University campus ,where a lovely young student had been waiting for me, to help me carry my suitcase to my bedroom and help me “with anything else I might need”!

“Thank you Lizzie” I thought….I had no idea that she would have remembered my request to have an assistant waiting for me upon my arrival, to help me with my heavy suitcase ,upstairs!

Lizzie Wojtkowska-Wright is the Business Manager for Pilgrims Teacher Training who ensures all the details of our course with them are managed effortlessly. Lizzie and her team are there to answer all our questions before and during our course, so we can focus on enjoying every minute of it!

I stayed in a basic student bedroom in the college with a private shower and toilet. Including  bed and breakfast.Awesome! My bedroom window had a beautiful view over the little forest surrounding the campus and a couple of little squirrels and bunnies, were the first creatures I could see, every single morning , when I woke up and drew the curtains…

I had some rest and later, I went for a walk around the campus….

Such a beautiful place! Ideal for studying! A paradise!

Residential, teaching and administrative buildings are surrounded by green open spaces, fields and woods. I was within walking distance of all the excellent facilities the university had on offer including a Theatre and Cinema, a Library, a Campus Shop and bookshop, a pharmacy, an off-licence, banks and cashpoints, bistros, bars, cafés, bus stops and launderette.

I later found out, that the University of Kent is less than 20 minutes walk from Canterbury city centre.

One of the best ways to explore was on foot, allowing me to truly admire the historical architecture and exciting atmosphere of Canterbury. I often explored Canterbury and discovered for myself  the beauty of its best known attractions and best kept secrets, history and culture .

Whether you’re interested in history, culture, shopping, country walks, the seaside, or eating out – Canterbury and its surroundings has it all! For example, a short bus drive away lies the quintessential seaside town of Whitstable, featuring beautiful beaches, cafes, art galleries…I will never forget the day I first visited it, with my friends Marta and Jose from Spain and Emma from Holland! We had a blast! I was lucky to visit it again this year, together with my good friend Tulay from Turkey ! Jim and Lizzie, were our hosts and both made us feel very welcome, in their picturesque hometown!

To me, Pilgrims Teacher Training courses empower you to be a highly effective, motivated and inspired teacher. Pilgrims, is its people…

Jim Wright, is the heart and soul of Pilgrims!

Jim is an amazing person, who has been my facebook friend all these years and whom I truly admire and respect.He is a positive thinker, with a great sense of humour!

He is the Principal of Pilgrims Teacher Training in Canterbury and is responsible for the overall management, vision and continued growth of Pilgrims. He is really passionate about creating an environment where inspiration, transformation and feeling good about ourselves are possibilities for all staff and participants.

I saw Jim again, this year and realised that he is such an inspiration himself!

He is a man who understands that greater happiness lies in helping others, not helping himself. Jim is a gentleman: polite, respectful, considerate and attentive to all the trainees’ needs, at Pilgrims! Having integrity, is another very important characteristic of him!

His most important characteristic though, is his positive attitude, which may be difficult to find today,since we live in such a negative society. With his positive attitude, people want to be around him and  share the fun. He seems happy with his life and the world around him and he wants to look out for others and to help them. 

He is one of the Pilgrims smiling faces and always brightening up people’s days.

But, the best part about the Pilgrims experience for me, was the training courses I attended !

By having read their brochure, before I applied, I knew that I would get

  • 22.5 hours per week Training Course
  • Up to 10 additional hours of Afternoon and Evening Activities
  • Work in multinational groups
  • Free Seminars, Workshops and Activities to choose from at 16:00 or 20:00 on 3 or 4 days per week.

These workshops usually include : Idioms Update• Fun with Poetry• Songs and Music• Yoga• Storytelling• Teaching Through Art• NLP• Relaxation Techniques• Using Metaphor •Multiple Intelligences• Shakespeare• Joke Telling• Lexical Approach• British Life & Culture• Folk Dancing• Drama Workshop• Grammar Around You• Tai’ Chi• Alphabet Games• Teaching Pronunciation• The Creative Use of Texts• Salsa Dancing• Celtic Evening

I had my best time in those afternoon classes, where I shared unforgettable fun moments with my international colleagues! Concerning this year,I will never forget the afternoon dancing classes fun!

My most favourite afternoon trainers, back in 2011,were Adrian Underhill who taught me pronunciation through his beautiful music and  Peter Dyer , who utilised his drama experience with his teaching methodology.

Adrian, helped me fix the wrong way I used to pronounce ‘“G” sounds…..Adrian also, taught me how to incorporate his Pron Chart layout into my teaching, first just to help myself, and gradually reveal it to my learners as they became ready for it.

It was the best introduction to the phonemic chart I could ever have had.

He gave me a huge boost of confidence as I realised it wasn’t as scary as I thought, and using the chart as Adrian does was incredibly engaging.

One thing that stood out for me was that he advised us not to wait to use the chart in class until we were ready, but to dive in and go on a journey with the learners.

His  chart is now an integral part of my lessons.

Peter’s classes were aimed at any teacher with a relatively good level of English and they were all about making us feel more relaxed about the way we communicate, to be more responsible about how we fit in with the world both professionally and privately. He used to tell us that, “As teachers, we are actors. Even the  first entrance to a classroom is terribly, terribly important. We need to be aware of our appearance, gestures but voice as well.”

I admire Peter’s work and I have been his fan, all these years! So happy, I managed to attend his afternoon classes again, this year!

In 2011,I decided to attend  Bonnie Tsai’s NLP course which has practically changed the way I have been teaching since then and has deeply influenced me as a person!

For me, Neuro Linguistic Programming was something very new and certainly challenging. I chose it because somewhere deep inside I wanted a change. There was something in my teaching or my approach to teaching that seemed to be missing or out of tune. I was looking for answers that were deep inside of me waiting to be uncovered.

NLP enabled me to explore deeply learning styles and teaching styles.

What I remember the most about that course though, is  the joyful period of giving and receiving little sincere messages of thanks and gratitude, called metaphorically, “FISH.”

I am thankful to Bonnie! I will always be…

In her lifetime, Bonnie inspired many people, like myself, with her natural desire to learn and understand the magic of it. When I heard of her premature death, I prayed to thank her for inspiring me and opening me to change…

Bonnie transformed people’s lives. She became  my mentor and  inspiration !

With her help, I learned to see the teaching process through the student’s perspective and also saw that students have different ways of learning and we have to adapt our methods to the students, not the other way round. She showed me that teaching was not only a profession but an art, and the teacher is an artist that interacts with his/her students in a creative way.

The most vivid memory though was the day, she had us walk outside the classroom , in pairs, one behind the other, freely moving around, dancing or hopping, jumping or running, following our partner’s movement and trying to “walk in his/her shoes” in order to achieve rapport! Rapport is important. We need rapport to influence others, to teach and learn, to achieve difficult tasks in groups and even to mate….

That special day, Bonnie asked ME to be her walking partner! I still remember the feeling…She was walking in front of me, and I had to walk in the same way, avoiding obstacles on the way and forgetting about my own sciatica pain for a while!….Bonnie taught me rapport and humanity.

I still remember the day, Stefania Ballotto, an amazing Teacher Trainer, and Bonnie’s close friend, visited our class to teach us about Brain Gym!

Stefania’s lesson was so inspiring ! The very next day, Bonnie asked me to demonstrate few of those Brain Gym activities! Somehow,that turned out to be the most hilarious lesson, ever..!  Bonnie, thanked me in the end, for…” all that fun”!

As for Stefania Ballotto … I ‘m looking for adjectives to describe this outstanding teacher trainer!

She is so inspiring, caring, dedicated and committed! She is a devoted teacher passionate about her work !

She’s just….Supercalifragilisticexpialidoci ous!! She inspired me, the very first time I saw her teach!

All in all, what I got from the Pilgrims Course was more confidence and now I really believe in myself.

And I also made and kept great friends : inspiring and inspired educators with most of whom we have already  created strong partnerships! They have become members of my precious PLN and we are always there for each other  to help and support.

Pilgrims is a family…..I was so very happy to see Hanna Kryszewska again after so many years, in Thessaloniki, where she was one of last year’s Tesol M.T.N.Greece Convention presenters!

Hanna is a Pilgrims trainer and editor of HLT Magazine, which has been my ELT Bible, all these years! She is such a friendly person and an inspiring educator!

She is also a teacher who believes in a humanistic approach to education ,like me…. Her Tesol MTNGreece Convention workshop, was actually about that approach!

Next time I manage to visit Pilgrims, I do hope to attend one of her classes !

When I told her that it was almost impossible for me to be able to visit Pilgrim’s again because of  the financial crisis in my country and the difficulties in funding opportunities, she rushed to suggest several alternative ways to help me achieve my goal ….

Amazing educators have promoted the Pilgrims Humanistic approach idea ,all these years, among whom:

Hanna Kryszewska, Paul Davis, Adrian Tennant, Magda Zamorska, Mike Shreeve, Daniel Martin, Linda Yael, Peter Dyer, Tim Bowen, Stephania Balloto, Aleksandra Zaparucha, Judit Feher, Isil Boy, Beyza Yilmaz, Julie Wallis and lots more outstanding professionals.

This year, I had the chance to meet a few of these outstanding people ,again: the always smiling Magda Zamorska,Mike Shreeve ( who was one of my two amazing teacher trainers in the “Teaching Difficult Learners” course-the other one was Phil Dexter ),Linda Yael (whose mother comes from Greece..Isn’t that cool? ), Judit Feher(who was Bonnie’s close friend), Julie Wallis ( so very helpful and always there for us all),Marina Marinova (who visited our course class and shared her personal story ,which inspired all of us so much),Mojca Belak ( I noticed that she’s a great dancer, among other things),and Amadeu Marin ( so energetic and fun to be with- like most Spanish people that I know)…..

And of course, for me ,as well as for most teachers that I know,“Pilgrims” calls the incredible Mario Rinvolucri to mind! I first met him in Athens, in one of Tesol Greece Conventions, a few years ago ! Actually , the first time I decided to go to Pilgrims , was because I wanted to see him again!

Mario started teaching English in my country ,Greece in the mid-1960s when there was nothing around called ‘methodology’.

I had been a regular reader of many of his articles in different publications as well as his  “Creative Writing” , before I meet him in person!

The book that deeply influenced my own teaching was “ Grammar Games: Cognitive, Affective and Drama Activities for EFL Students,CUP” .

Actually, I have used most of his books in my career, among which : Humanising Your Coursebook , Dictation: New Methods, New Possibilities , The Confidence Book: Building Trust in the Language Classroom , Using the mother Tongue, Once upon a time and so many more!

Mario, worked for Pilgrims since 1974, a period of 34 years or nearly half a career.

In 1999 , he became the founding editor of Humanising Language Teaching (HLT), my ELT Bible!

Pilgrims, is everything a traditional teacher training center isn’t.

In every moment Pilgrims Teacher Trainers are people that live values that attract positive attention throughout the world.

“Pilgrims is a company we love to work with and for” as they say…

They are so vibrant that new ideas and innovations arise one after another  through co-operation and creative energy.

They stand for the possibility of personal and professional transformation through their own continually transforming leadership, inspiration and coaching.

Conclusion:

People in Pilgrims, believe in a humanistic approach to language acquisition and to personal growth.

They have an overwhelming passion to develop the confidence of all our learners and guide them with support and enthusiasm to achieve their goals.

Pilgrims is a worldwide community of passionate people. Join them! I have!

P.S To know more about Pilgrims and how to apply for a course, you can visit its site. Dare to live the Pilgrims experience!