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Nil by mouth


The last few months have definitely thrown a spanner (or wrench) in the works for me. I’ve had 4 visits to the hospital, 3 of them involving the operating theatre, many trips to the X-ray/ultra sound/ MRI clinic, endless visits to my GP & the neighbouring pharmacy, and the numerous clicks on medical websites via Google! The last number of visits being the worst so I think I’ll stop surfing the medical sites from now on 🙂

This is most unfortunate as it inconveniently disrupts my plans of just getting on with life, work and general wellbeing (pun intended). I must admit though, this medical experience is influencing my perspective on life, in fact it’s changing it considerably – for better I’m glad to say.

Hospitals can be crowded and noisy but also extremely lonely. With all the time in the world, and a moderately fast internet connection via the wi-fi, my coping mechanism has been improving. My phone has virtually become priceless, connecting me with my  husband, son, friends, and colleagues. Having access to FB never felt so good! I think I’ve watched over 50% of all TED talks, and feel as though I’m in Rio with all the Olympians, all thanks to the WWW.

I’m digressing…

Some of the online interaction has involved exchanges with my students, and that is certainly contributing to my recovery. They’ve all been very understanding, sending me lots of get well wishes. One student said “We miss you, we need you, please get well soon” Well, how can I say no to that? I’ve received emails of draft writing, where students requested feedback on their work (I currently teach English language, communications for IT, and a teacher-training course on Design for Learning), and all of them have an assessment due over the next few days. One of them was a symposium style presentation, which probably took place at the same time as my op today, but I’m digressing again. The student presenting this morning said they’d try to record the session for me. I hope they did because I really would like to see it.

The other assessments are diagnostic, due tomorrow, and formative, due Monday. All of them are similar in that they all require self-reflection: on learning English, on being an IT student, and on being a course designer and tutor. This is purely coincidental, but I’m sure it will make my marking easier by streamlining what I’m looking for in each  piece of writing and/or presentation: self-evaluation.

Since I’m putting my students through the mill of self-reflection, I thought I’d practise what I preach and reflect on my teaching so far. Even though I’ve spent most of Semester 2 in Ward 9 & 10 (there is that digression again!)


This is an important activity, I think so because it builds rapport, creates a comfortable environment, and as the title suggests, warms up students to dive into the rest of the lesson. It’s a good starting block, especially in a language class. The first session we had together involved getting everyone in line, in a shoe horse shape, according to their birthdays, day & month. I prefer grouping students at random. As a result, we found out every one’s b’day (2 sts had the exact same date, including the year!) and had a great speaking session, discussing 3 things we always carry with us. Each learner introduced his/her partner and pointed out those 3 items. The activity worked really well I’m glad to say. Nothing original but worth keeping in the basket of warmers.


In order to revise the last 2 sessions of the communication class, I created 2 quizzes on Socrative. This class is full of energy (oh to be young again…) so we had  a rocket race with 12 groups, which was the max number of teams on Socrative. Each team had 1 rep to answer the questions on behalf of the team. But the members would yell out the answer or google it, (to my horror!) Fortunately the race against each other fixed the googling problem. It wasn’t clear which team was what colour, other than when they moved forward. I must investigate how to tell teams apart. I think I’ll use Socrative again, just need more time to prepare the Qs in advance. Another hospital stay on the horizon perhaps?

If Technology ever fails(!), there are always the post-it notes! They’re lifesavers! I wrote 3 Qs on the board:

  1. What did you do yesterday to be an effective communications student?
  2. What will you do today to be an effective communications student?
  3. What are the impediments to being an effective communications student?

Different colour for each question. This was my Exit Q but also the initial warm up to our team assignment coming up soon. I’d like to use the SCRUM framework to introduce my IT students to the concept of Agile teams, Agile thinking, and Agile System Development and Design. I’m very excited about the kickoff meeting, the potential product backlog and those stand-up meetings! We’ve already had one, just to warm up to the idea.

I’m planning to use eduScrum, which I came across online whilst surfing the twitterverse. The rationing behind it is simple, a need for an overall structure and a framework to guide the process of preparing for a team report & presentation, using one of the most popular and effective Agile framework methods used in IT. If it works, it will be great! If it doesn’t, then I’ll be in big trouble! Nobody enjoys failing, especially the tutor!

I hope to keep a record of the progress in this blog, which I hope will be highly educational for me as a self-reflecting tool, and for other tutors who may benefit from it, even if it’s to show what NOT to do 😉

My current medical situation has also been highly educational, as my surgeon told me this afternoon, “I haven’t come across this kind of condition before”. Nice to know that I’m contributing to the medical world of knowledge. On that note, I shall digress and see what Google has to say about my condition. Thank you and good night!

  1. 17/08/2016 10:00 pm

    You are a wonder Belma – your self-reflections are so interesting and entertaining! You inspire me 🙂
    I do hope your medical woes are soon sorted – it is amazing how you keep so cheerful and positive when you must be feeling poorly. Kia Kaha and come back soon!

    • 18/08/2016 4:06 pm

      Thanks Clare! I believe you were the one who introduced me to blogging, thank you for inspiring me! I’ll be back next week as I promised my students. If they want to learn, then I’ll be there 🙂

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