‘Preflective Lesson Prep’: My iTDi MOOC Presentation

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Preflective Lesson Prep: Ideas & Inspirations

This is a follow-up post to a webinar I did with iTDi during their ‘Summer School’ MOOC on WizIQ. You can see the full list of all the MOOC presenters + presentations here.

Below, I’m going to write about iTDi,  the recent MOOC, and WizIQ. At the end I’ll post a newly recorded and updated version of my presentation.

iTDi & iTDi Courses

iTDi is The International Teacher Development Institute, found at http://iTDi.pro. Its stated mission is 

to provide quality professional development that is meaningful, accessible and affordable for all teachers. We share a vision of a vibrant global community of educators, helping one another to become better teachers.

I joined in a couple years back when I saw an online class with John F. Fanselow being offered on iTDi. I’d read his book ‘Breaking Rules’, and I jumped at the chance to learn with him live and direct. This was one of my first experiences with syncronous online learning and it was a very positive experience. I was surprised to find that the webinar interface in many ways enhanced rather than the classroom/training room experience. I loved being able to ‘hear’ others thought as they occured in the chatbox. Links could be posted, even emotions shared with smileys, etc.

I even thought it was great that the presenter was at home, dressed casually, sitting in front of a computer. There was something so intimate about it – the furthest thing from a ‘distance’ class! Needless to say, I’ve been hooked on online classes ever since. It didn’t hurt that John F. Fanselow is such a unique and uniquely effective communicator and mentor. What a thrill it was to have him respond sensitively to my in-class comments and give such quality feedback to my and others’ class discussion thread posts.


John’s was also one of iTDi’s first ‘Advanced Teaching Skills’ courses. And they’ve only gotten better and better since. 

Shortly after completing the course I received an email from one of the directors of iTDi. An excerpt: 

I’m sending you this message because you were one of the teachers in our first advanced teaching skills courses, Breaking Rules Live and More Breaking Rules with John F. Fanselow. 

First of all, thank you for giving us a chance to be part of your professional development. Your participation in our first live online course, and your contributions to discussions about teaching, gave us a glimpse of what really good collaborative online learning could be and is a big reason we decided to expand our advanced offerings to include a full year of courses from some of the best teacher educators in ELT…

I don’t know about you, but to me this email was extremely well written and warm. Yep, this small sampling’s got iTDi sauce poured all over it. 

I think being a member of iTDi means real connection and communication with fellow ELT professions with little to no organizational/hierarchical hoo-ha getting in the way. This means that people can really SHINE THROUGH. And I always feel like I’ll be learning from someone, anyone; TEFL bigwig or random member…sometimes it’s hard to tell! And that’s beautiful.

The above message is typical of the distinctive ‘personal touch’ at iTDi. There’s a very real sense that all community members matter and that iTDi really does operate according to two principles it says define its vision: 

Anything I can do, we can do better.

Whatever the problem, community is the answer.

After ‘Breaking Rules Live’, I participated in a handful of one-off webinars…and then came an amazing 4-week learning experience led by Scott Thornbury & Penny Ur:

thorn ur

I wound’t be able to do justice to how good that was in my description here. Let’s just say I loved it. 

In addition to live classes with excellent ELT teachers, trainers, and thinkers, iTDi offers two very thorough and fantastic asyncronous online courses: English for Teachers & Teacher Development. I’m also member of cambridgeenglishteacher.org, where some really high quality courses can be found, and I think iTDi’s offerings definitely rival it. 

The iTDi Summer School MOOC for English Teachers

I joined WizIQ in late 2012, long before I became a CELTA trainer (despite what it says in the screenshot below). I was tapped to run a ‘Reflective Practice Journaling’ online seminar over the course of a semester for a newly hatched BA TESOL course in Thailand. I chose WizIQ to deliver monthly webinars alongside our weekly Google Hangouts and web board discussions.

Beyond the great reflective practice work itself, this was an extremely fruitful project in that I was able to independently explore and experiment with some online educational communication and community-building platforms. To be honest, I chose WizIQ mainly because it fit into the measly budget I was working with. Things like Adobe Connect were out of reach. But I’m glad I did chose WizIQ because it really has continued to develop and grow and these days is clearly making a big push into ELT. 


A screenshot of some of my ‘Reflective Practice Seminar’ BA TESOL online module materials from early 2013

So when I signed up to do one of iTDi Summer School MOOC’s webinars, I was already pretty comfortable with WizIQs platform (and impressed by how far it’d come).

iTDi’s description of the MOOC:  

Welcome to The iTDi Summer School MOOC For English Teachers

On behalf of all of us at the International Teacher Development Institute (iTDi) I’d like to congratulate you on enrolling in our first ever Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). We’re offering this MOOC for free to teachers around the world because:

  • We can always become better teachers. We believe that as teachers become more skilled, inspired and motivated, the overall quality of education improves as well.
  • Every teacher deserves access to Professional Development. All teachers, no matter what their background or income level, deserve equal access to professional development.
  • Education matters
 The best way to change the world for the better is to provide quality education for all learners. The best way to do this is to give all teachers the opportunity to become the best teachers they can be. If we do this, we really can change the world.

This is why we are offering you four weeks of TEFL teacher development training delivered one session at a time by the faculty, mentors, associates, and leading community members of iTDi.

In this MOOC you’ll develop your teaching skills, discover new tools and techniques, and explore ideas as you take sessions on a wide range of topics. You’ll also get inspired and motivated as you connect with & learn with the iTDi global community: teachers from over 90 countries learning to be better teachers together.

Please see the iTDi MOOC Course Schedule for a day-by-day outline of all our planned sessions and to learn more about how you can receive iTDi-certified Professional Development Credit Hours an iTDi Certificates of Participation, Accomplishment or even Accomplishment with Distinction.

If you’re new to iTDi, consider this MOOC your first step on an exciting journey. We have teachers from over 90 countries learning how to be better teachers together and we offer a variety of courses and learning opportunities for educators. To make the most of your MOOC experience with us, be sure to sign up for a free iTDi account at http://iTDi.pro . We’re looking forward to learning with you

35 session in 30 days. It was a whirlwind. And I was thrilled when Chuck Sandy suggested I take part!

So. Here’s what I put together:

Is lesson planning a chore? Perhaps a bore? The goal of this session is to reimagine lesson prep as something beyond a ‘nuts and bolts’ part of teaching & explore/‘explode’ it as a ‘preflective’ activity through which we can grow in awareness as teachers. 

My “Preflective Lesson Prep” presentation represents a rough first pass of an attempt to reflect on, organize, clarify, and express my thoughts on lesson planning as a process, based on my personal experience and what I’ve observed and learned from others over the years. It feels like a doggedly important subject – and one in which many assumptions and conventions are very often taken for granted.

There were some pre-tasks & questions involved with my webinar. Attendees working to get Professional Development Credit Hours from iTDi (and I hope/assume a handful of folks who weren’t) answered least three of these questions and/or tasks:

1. What does ‘lesson planning’ mean to you in one sentence?
2. What requirements for “official documentation” of lesson plans do you have in your school or teaching context?
3. What ‘off paper’ lesson prep do you do for yourself? Explain.
4. What is the value of lesson planning for you?
5. What steps do you follow when planning a lesson?
6. Do you think lesson planning becomes less crucial with more experience as a teacher? Why or why not?

1. Read 2 of the posts from the iTDi Blog Lesson Planning Issue and leave a comment on the posts you read. http://itdi.pro/blog/category/topics/lesson-planning/

2. Link to one of the posts from the iTDi Blog Lesson planning issue in the discussion thread below. Then summarize the post briefly & add some reflective thoughts of your own. http://itdi.pro/blog/category/topics/lesson-planning/

I’ve been quite active in responding to & encouraging (in simple ways) the 60+ attendees who did answer the questions, and I’m quite happy with the info and experiences people have shared. Trying to comment on every participant’s post is something I was inspired to do by Scott Thornbury. During the class I mentioned above he was extremely active on the chat boards, and it made all the difference!

Ah! Well…it was just amazing to have so many people engaged in my little mini-chapter of a MOOC! Teachers from literally all over the world! It was…well, it was incredible to me. I probably sound like a kid in a candy shop at Disney World here, but hey. Perhaps it helps express how I feel about this stuff.

Anyway, the live session took place on July 26th. It was slated for 60 minutes. I went over time 10 minutes or so. All the recordings from the MOOC are available to everyone who is signs up on WizIQ…and there are some really great ones. They’re all around 60 minutes (I don’t think I was the only one to float over a bit). I wasn’t able to live-attend as many as I would have liked, but no matter; watching the recordings has its own advantages. Let me recommend a handful of my favorites (so far): 

Finally, find my cleaned-up and hopefully tightened-up presentation below…and please feel free to offer any and all constructive feedback in the comment section!

(vid here) [coming soon!]

This entry was posted in Diary Entries Newbieness. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to ‘Preflective Lesson Prep’: My iTDi MOOC Presentation

  1. ashowski says:

    Thanks for this Matthew! The links lead to some interesting reads and comments. What was this done for? What is iTDi? Forgive my ignorance.

  2. Pingback: Welcome to 1000WW: My Lil’ “Zone of Proximal Reflection” | *1000 Words Weekly*

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