Running away with it…

3 06 2012

http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/177990533

Funny that this 5km easy was only a minute slower than my 5km fast on the previous run.  I guess that’s where I’m at at the moment, just trying to get the body used to the kilometres again and trying to find a good running form that will minimise injury risks.

http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/179098810

First time I’ve run for an hour in the comeback.  Was very pleased to get to 9km and am confident I have ten kilometres in me, although not got any races on the horizon.  Although this did make me wonder for a minute or two if I shouldn’t be running Fiestas Mayas instead of organising #IHTOC50, but only for a minute mind.

http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/180372201

Just a muscle loosener and a keeping in the rhythm after the long run the other day.

http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/181425128

No run this weekend.  A week between runs, not the best!  But I still managed an easy five km, although one of the calves was tightening up towards the end – need to be careful and remember the number one goal is not get injured!

http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/183989223

My first ten kilometre run of this comeback period.  I’m managing not to overdo things, at least running wise.

http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/184812980





Surviving Through Song – Words of Wisdom for NQTs

31 05 2012

At #IHTOC50 (International House Teachers Online Conference) on Friday May 25th, up to 500 IH teachers from around the world came together to share their experience, knowledge and love of teaching, as well as to celebrate fifty years of teacher training at International House.

I was lucky enough to be heavily involved in organising the whole conference, in my role as Academic Coordinator for Resources and DoS Support, but I also gave one of the plenary sessions on the day.

I then gave a slightly different face to face version of the session at the Anglo conference in Montevideo on Sunday 19th August, with the kind support of Macmillan Uruguay.  This session included the observation tasks you’ll find below, but I left out Ask by The Smiths as the song of The Eighties and left that up to Just Like Heaven by The Cure.

Surviving Through Song – Words of wisdom for EFL teachers

The idea behind my session was to give some sound advice to Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs) about how to survive in their early years of teaching, based on my experience as an NQT myself back in Prague in the late nineties, and then as a senior teacher and DoS helping new teachers settle into their new careers, and most recently as a CELTA trainer sending new teachers off out into the wide world of ELT, and also as a DELTA trainer, welcoming not-so-new teachers back into the fold for further teacher development.

Since we were celebrating 50 years of International House teacher training (the first teacher training course took place at IH London in June 1962 and would later develop into what we today know and love as the CELTA), I thought it would be fun to look back over the best music of the last fifty years to find some inspiration.  Then it occurred to me that using song was a great way of ingratiating yourself with your students in your early years of teaching, so why not pass on a few ideas about how to use my chosen songs in the classroom at the same time?

And then during the planning stage and with some great input from people (mainly my former IHCAM and DELTA trainees) commenting on my previous blog post  ‘Turning CELTees into successful NQTs’, I realised teachers may also appreciate some help with reflecting on their own teaching, both through self-observation and peer / DoS observation.

So I ended up with a song from each decade of the last fifty years and one for luck.  And for each of these fab songs, I had advice for new (and not so new!) teachers, a lesson for using the song as listening practice and as a springboard for speaking or language activities, and also an observation task that can be used to help teachers improve in the area inspired by the songs.

To go through each of them here would make for one incredibly long blog post, so instead I’m going to try and post about one song/decade/idea on a regular basis over the coming weeks.  And as I do so I’ll add links to each of the posts here below so you have an index to all of them in one place.

The Sixties – For Students

The Sixties – For Teachers

The Sixties – For Observation IHTOC50 NM TO Errors & Correction

The Seventies – For Students

The Seventies – For Teachers

The Seventies – For Observation IHTOC50 NM TO Critical Moments

The Eighties – For Students

The Eighties – For Teachers

The Eighties – For Observation IHTOC50 NM TO On The Podium

The Nineties – For Students

The Nineties – For Teachers

The Nineties – For Observation IHTOC50 NM TO Successful Stages

The Noughties – For Students

The Noughties – For Teachers

The Noughties – For Observation IHTOC50 NM TO Going Round In Circles

The session seemed to go down very well and people said they found all three aspects of it useful, so I hope you find something useful in there too.  If you do, please let us know with a comment.

And then if you have other songs you’d like me to dish out the same treatment on, do let me know about them too!  Enjoy!





Many more hills ahead

9 05 2012

Hills by mcneilmahon at Garmin Connect – Details.

My first ‘hills’ run since January and a third lot of overdoing it in three runs since the return began.  Another six kilometres with the usual cross the bridge five times, rest for five minutes and cross it five times more before heading homewards.  Except I was enjoying myself so much I decided to up the pace over the last kilometre as well as I headed back around the small lake to the car and I managed to keep the pace up to around 6m/km.  Which meant no time for thinking anything except what I was doing running wise.  

The one thought I did have was that I felt much better after my last run and that my legs seemed to have recovered much quicker – was this a result of having a pilates class on Monday?  Did the pilates help the legs to recover better?  I have a class tomorrow too, so if I don;t feel leggy come Friday it must have something to do with it, because normally after a run like today I would be feeling it til the weekend.  Looking forward to the next run already, but going to keep it to twice a week for at least my first month back – that’s the only way I can stop myself from not completely overdoing it! After all, I have many more hills ahead of me to climb…





Easy doesn’t it

6 05 2012

Easy by mcneilmahon at Garmin Connect – Details.

The second run of my latest comeback and having chastised myself all week for doing too much last Tuesday, I ended up doing the same distance but quicker today – when am I ever going to learn? 

The problem was today there was perfect weather for running when I went out, 20 degrees and sunshine but with a cooling light breeze.  In T-shirt and shorts I was neither too hot nor too cold and so I could run easy without getting too hot and enjoy the crowds out enjoying the Palermo lakes and the weather like me. 

Thoughts were split between two things today – finding form and keeping the body as balanced as possible (i.e. not very) as always, and also the organisation of IH TOC50, since I’ve spent the rest of the day trying to out the schedule together and am about to email all of the lovely speakers with the latest details.  Schedule seems to have come together quite smoothly – a wide variety of sessions spread throughout the day from early morning to late night GMT – will we survive the 15mins breaks between sessions?  We had 30mins last time out, but I reckon with separate rooms and hopefully different moderators each time we should be fine.  

I’ve also had a fun idea about my own session at the conference on helping NQTs settle in to the job and survive their first year of teaching.  But I think I’ll keep that under wraps for now so I have a little surprise in store on the big day.  





An overlong return

2 05 2012

Long by mcneilmahon at Garmin Connect – Details.

It’s been much too long since I last ran – 18th January in fact, which is well over three months, and to mark my return to the roads obviously I overdid it, running six kilometres after having had a handful of pilates classes and a couple of quick gym visits since that last run last January.  

Fitness-wise, things have been bad recently.  I’ve put on at least three kilos since new year, I’ve had problems with the knees, the feet and most recently the back, and I’ve done next to no physical activity.  So spending the Mayday holiday running six kilometres was a big step forward, even if I did celebrate it with a big barbecue right afterwards. 

And there were no thoughts at all, I’m afraid.  Simply focusing 100% on what my body was doing.  I’m now so concious that I’m such a bad runner, that I’m always overcompensating for some injury or other and so therefore am always running unbalanced and favouring something, that I simply focused the whole time on trying to run as upright as possible, trying to bend the knees to provide some bounce and save them from some swelling, and to keep my stomach in and my back straight.  Although stiff today, I’m pleased that I managed not to hurt myself with all this overdoing it and can already think about my next, more staid session.  It should be tomorrow but won;t be, because we’re off to the book fair, but hopefully the weekend will bring more kilometres, more balanced form and maybe even a thought or two.  





It’s not fair

24 03 2012

Don’t suppose that you could tell me?

Don’t suppose you’ll ever know?

Only I can think it over

Make a choice or let you go.

 

Not fair am I to keep you like this?

 Not fair is it to make this my truth?

Not fair at all but that’s the way it is

Life’s not so fair today at all

 

Don’t imagine that you’d leave me?

Don’t imagine that you’ll ever let me go?

Only I can free us both to

Make it fairer than it was before.

 

Don’t you think I’d know the answers?

Don’t you think I’ve been here before?

Only I can’t remember the way to

Make it fairer than it was before.

 

Don’t you know I’m turning you over?

Don’t you know I’m out of time?

Only I can see the difference

Making it up while it’s still too soon.

 

It’s not fair

So scream and scream so I can hear you crying

It’s not fair

And I know and I scream so I can see you dying

It’s not fair, it’s not fair, but it’s the truth.

 





Comment on Man City 3 Spurs 2 on Spurscommunity

22 01 2012

http://www.spurscommunity.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=82994&page=6

Funny old game football and today’s match shows us just what a brilliant game it still is, even in these money-dominated, poorly-officiated times. So many ifs and buts, so much confusion about whether to feel proud or gutted and at the end of the day the stark reality of a widening divide from the top two, but thankfully, a status quo with the trailing four. 

I thought we played pretty well as a team in the first half, but not individually in midfield or attack (which was probably the way Harry was happy for it to go). Bale was ineffective infield as an attacking force, Lennon needed to run more at Clichy after the booking, and VDV and Modric were uninspired and unincisive in the middle. But at the same time, we were keeping the league leaders comfortably at bay. The plan was probably to try and do this for as long as possible and then as their fans demanded more risks as the game wore on, break with pace and nick a winner. The plan was working up until they scored, it just wasn’t the plan I’d have followed or that Harry had promised pre-game, which was to take them on man for man and have a go at them from the first whistle. 

Once they scored however, we had to take them on to get anything from the game. Unfortunately they scrambled a second in off Lescott’s arse before we’d had a chance to get the grip between our teeth. There was bad defending in both goals, but there was also excellent football in the first and the pot luck of a dangerous set piece in the second (just a shame we never invite lady luck along to our set pieces). 

Even so, we had the spirit and courage and football and luck to take them on on an equal footing. The long ball that had been over-used in the first half was transformed by their weak link into an incisive pass in the second, well controlled and finished by Defoe, who had been anonymously battering his blonde lack of locks against a brick wall up until then. 

And a sublime finish by Bale for the second, after Modric finally woke up from his slumber or shrugged off his shackles (take your pick). If only Luka had that type of finish in him himself. I initially blamed Bale for the goal that wasn’t since he played it in ahead of Defoe, who simply wasn’t ever going to reach it early enough to turn it in, but then how can you blame someone for the instinctive millisecond decision that his teammate will arrive at such a pace? How was he to know that Defoe had taken a slight knock or was tired enough to arrive a split second slower? If he’d put it in back an inch and Defoe had arrived at his full pelt, would it have been easier for Defoe to adjust and score anyway? It was just one of those things the beautiful game gives us. 

And what was Ledders doing? Just one of those things. Should Balotelli been on the pitch? At full pace in the heat of the moment, difficult to decide he intended to stamp on him. We’re all looking at a slow motion replay and are thinking of all the things Balotelli’s done both on and off the pitch to cloud our judgement. The only thing that’s certain is that Webb wasn’t going to get all controversial on our behalf. As the Argentine summariser said ‘he has his own way of interpreting the regulations’, an eloquent way of admitting he never gives us anything. 

At the end of the day, we’re still looking very good for third. We’re still playing excellent football. We still lack a world class striker that is proving impossible to find within the context we are offering. We still can’t compete on a level playing field without a superduper new stadium. We are still not getting the rub of the green from referees. We’re still Tottenham, super Tottenham, from the lane.





Plodding and Pondering

16 01 2012

http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/142107065

A successful and satisfying 10km yesterday, after a full day’s work, which had begun with lots of blog work, continued with coordinating and finished up with the run and Lorenzo’s OIl.  The run was the first time in a while that I’ve left the security and proximity of the small lake of Palermo and extended my run out to the big lake.  This is my classic 10k route from home out to and round the big lake and then down to and round the small one.   There was actually a lot more pondering than plodding during the hour and pico that I was out as I was going at a pace of 6:30/km for mostof it and managed to keep it going throughout the 10km.  Unbelievably, I managed to distract myself so much with thoughts of blogging and commenting on all things Dogme so much that I missed my turn off and got a little lost around the small lake – ridiculous behaviour.  

The thoughts that distracted me so much were:

Why is it every time I get close to accepting Dogme someone annoys me with their ‘overeagerness’ for the cause?  Is it something about them, the disciples of dogme, the Dogme-gicians as I’ve decided to call them, or is it something about me?  Am I too unforgiving, too eager to criticise, too cynical? 

What is Dogme?  Noone, even among the Dogme-gicians, seem to be able to agree on whether it’s an approach, a method, a technique, a tool, an attitude, a lesson type or an irrelevance.  And does it matter?  I think it matters if people are passing it off as something it’s not (e.g. an approach), at least to me.  I don’t like people exagerrating the cause.   Am I close in my idea of it as a reflection tool? How do I go about deciding?  Discussing each possibility in a blog post?

Which took me onto the last main thought – how do I reply to everyone’s comments while continuing to blog and while doing the rest of my work etc.  Yesterday morning I ‘wasted’ two hours blogging and commenting on various posts, which I should have spent doing my coordinating work.  But it was fun and stimulating and I got my work done eventually.  Perhaps I should settle for using my comments on other blogs as printing press posts on my own blog, and perhaps a post summarising the main criticisms of my recent posts and my reactions to them, although it will have to wait until next weekend…





Comment on Spurs 1 Wolves 1 on Spurscommunity

15 01 2012

http://www.spurscommunity.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?p=2616941&posted=1#post2616941

Just watched the match as live in the early hours of Sunday morning here in Buenos Aires and then read this match day thread and I can’t believe how quick everyone is to criticise certain players – Ade and Bale in particular – when the referee and linesman, yet again, were directly and unfairly involved in preventing us from winning. At Stoke we would definitely have won, yes won, not drawn, if Hoy had had a good game, and today the officials denied Ade another perfectly good goal and their goal came from a corner that clearly wasn’t a corner. 

It’s all very well to bang on about a winning mentality and how we have to nurture one, and I am as big a fan of doing so as anyone on this forum, but when the officials always give the benefit of the doubt to the other team, even when you’re playing at home, it requires a mentality harder than even that required by 18? times champions United (since they get so many decisions in their favour, home and away (especially against us of course)) that even such a believer in procuring a winners mentality as I starts to doubt the fairness of the playing field. 

Is it just me, or do we seem to have the officials against us even when we play at home? Is it just me, or wouldn’t you hope that we might even have the officials in our favour (i.e. giving us the benefit of the doubt when they’re not 100% sure about something) since we play the best football and we play the fairest football in the league. 

Name me the last game in which we committed more fouls than our opponent? 
Name me the last game in which we got more 50/50 decisions given in our favour? 

I would be surprised if you could name a game in the last ten years or so, maybe even since the premier league was born. When we play the top four the commentators even go on about how they should beat us and when we play a team like Wolves they go on about what fantastic fighters they are to be robbing us. 

We get credit for three days because people finally realise three months later than they should that we’re one of the three best teams in England and they only do it to put a stop to it as soon as they can. 

As a club we need to adopt a siege mentality and get much harder with officials etc. Harry has to get himself banned or fined whatever but point out the injustices and the players need to complain more. If you make a noise early in the game about a corner that never was and keep making that noise maybe the official thinks twice about putting up the flag when Ade clips in Bale’s shot…and perhaps even sees the player playing him onside.

Whatever happens and whatever crap we continue to get fed by the premier league I am amazingly proud of our chairman, manager and players for the football they have produced so far this season and while I would love them to get what they deserve (we should be three points clear of City at the moment if it wasn’t for Hoy and today) I will love them anyway and those of you who choose to criticise Ade or Bale or anyone else, aim your negativity at the officials and back your players for every minute of the rest of the season because we can still win this whole thing, but the team needs all of us 100% behind them the rest of the way.





Fartlek-inspired Thinking Fever

13 01 2012

http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/141373794

I certainly overdid it today, no doubt about it.  Having done hills on Wednesday and planning a long one for Sunday, today was obviously easy day.  Nope, not for Neil.  I decided to do some fartleks, which as far as I’m concerned means running fast for a short period of time and then running very easy in between.  I ended up doing a km easy, 4 x 400m at about 90% speed (probably my target 5km race pace?) with 100m ridiculously easy (but not walking) in between, 1km very easy, 4x400m again, but not so quick since I’d already outdone myself (proabably at about 70% speed?) and then after 100m walking a very easy almost 2km back home again.  

I survived and even enjoyed it, but could feel many a twinge as I hobbled back up Santa Fe to the flat.  Lots of ice now and let’s hope it feels good tomorrow with lots of swimming.  There wasn’t much time for thinking with all that change of pace going on, but I had a few random thoughts as the blood pulsed through my brain:

I could try writing a workshop called ‘Being a Dogme DoS’ about how to encourage student-centred, materials-light and emergent language-aware classes from your staff, without smothering them in course books and assessment etc. 

and

Polls! I’d forgotten about polls.  I should have stuck some polls in the Who needs Dogme blog post to see who thinks they do.  Is it worth adding one now?  Or should I do a whole new post based on different polls? 

and

I’m going to do a Dogme-stylie Delta session next week on classroom management – they’ve all managed classrooms for a couple of years at least so they should be well aware of the issues.  Let’s just have a clinic to fine tune our weaknesses once we’ve celebrated our strengths.  My experimental practice as a trainer…

and 

My Delta IT session is going to take place completely online, with the instructions and tasks going out through twitter…Could be lots of fun or it could be a shambles, but learn through doing and all that.  Time for my PLN (do I actually have one?) to stand up and be counted…

So quite a lot of thinking in the end really.  








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