Please tell us a few things about yourself and your involvement in education.
My degree is actually in music (a Master of Fine Arts in music performance) and I have a teaching certificate from New York State to teach music as well. I have been in Austria since 1981 where I began in adult education and soon after arriving did a diploma in teaching to adults. I have found, however, that what I learned teaching music in the States gave me insights into aspects such as classroom management and rapport with students. I also feel that we never stop learning and have taken part regularly in professional development courses and seminars. Conferences are also a wonderful place to experience new ideas and I go to them whenever I can.
What attracted you to the field of education?
In the States I began to teach as this was what music majors did while auditioning for roles and this actually continued when I got to Austria and started auditioning for agents in order to sing in an opera house. Slowly but surely teaching became my main profession and I have now been in the field of ELT for over 30 years. What I like about it is that it is a very wide-spread field, I can be involved in teaching associations such as TEA (Teachers of English in Austria) and IATEFL, I can write, I can blog, I can train teachers, and I can continue in the classroom as well. I like the flexibility, the challenge and the fun of working with people and watching them develop in many ways, not just in their language skills.
Which are some of the most memorable highlights of your career in education?
I think being on the board of TEA and then Chair (2003-2005) and then being elected to the IATEFL BESIG committee, first as a joint events coordinator and then as coordinator (2009-2015) are memorable highlights. Others include my first plenary in Wiesbaden for ELTAF (English Language Teachers of Frankfurt) and being invited by other organizations to hold plenaries, such as here in Thessaloniki. And of course, a major highlight was be nominated as Vice President/President of IATEFL and being successful in this endeavor.
Which aspects of your work do you enjoy the most?
As I mentioned earlier, I love the flexibility, the chance to make a difference and being able to travel and work with teachers in many different countries. I have presented or held workshops in places as diverse as Austria, Germany, France, the Czech Republic, Monaco, Italy, Israel, Finland, Denmark, the UK, the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland and the USA. Next on my list is Hungary, Malta and Greece.
What are you working on now?
I am mostly working on finding out what I need to do as Acting Vice President of IATEFL and Chair of the Publications Committee. Usually there is a full year for this position but due to the circumstances of me taking over towards the end of a term I have lots to catch up on. In addition, I am working on an ebook for teachers on how to write activities for different learner types and am in the middle of a research project for university students on learning styles and learner strategies. Several other ideas are in the pipeline but I have had to put them on hold for the moment.
What are your professional plans for the future?
I think that the major part of my professional plans will be taking on the Presidency of IATEFL for two years (from April 2015 – April 2017) and then serving again as Vice President for a year. This job has many aspects including chairing committees such as publications and the annual conference. I plan to stay at the language institute of the University of Graz teaching a few classes a week and also working with corporate clients. Epublsihing is new for me so I hope I can finish the book I mentioned and get it published as an electronic version.
What should your audience expect to learn during the plenary session at the 22nd TESOL Macedonia-Thrace Northern Greece Annual International Convention?
I would say that the main thing is to find out about all the options we have and begin to become aware of how we can stretch out of our comfort zones.
What are the three words that sum up your session?
Taking chances, exploring, discovering
In your biography you mentioned:"In my investigation of the concept of learning I came across an NLP course being held in Austria so I signed up for it".Could you tell us how a NLP is connected to learning and why this area of studies attracted you?
This is an interesting question. I find that in corporate training today NLP has become invaluable. I work with people in HR who coach as well as project managers dealing with change management. NLP has many tools which can be implemented here and my students are always interested in this. For years I ran courses on NLP for school teachers with a colleague who wrote a book on NLP techniques (in German) for teachers and many of the participants of our seminars told us how we helped them both professionally and privately. I also use NLP techniques myself when I feel stuck. I think the main aspects connected to learning are the following: establishing and maintaining rapport, being congruent (authentic), reframing meaning (this includes turning negative ideas into positive ones), enabling others to set realistic goals (often used in coaching), creativity strategy, classroom management and flexibility in being aware of other’s models of the world. Once I realise that someone is doing something because it helps them in some way, I can be more tolerant of behavior that might otherwise get on my nerves.
Thank you very much,
for TESOL Macedonia Thrace Northern Greece