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Jeffrey Doonan: Believing in Lifelong Learning

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An interview by Martina Bednarikova

No teacher is a pro from the first day of teaching. We all start out as amateurs and grow from there – it’s just this process of learning that teaches us and gives us our purpose in teaching. In his joint presentation with Julia Alivertis, ELT Forum 2014 speaker Jeffrey Doonan will show how important it is to wash the dust of our daily lives off our teacher soul in order to get the inward significance of things across to our students. Because when you listen to your eyes, your students listen to you.

Slovak Chamber of English Teachers (SCET): How would you define yourself as an educator?

Jeffrey Doonan (JD): Well, it is hard to say. I am a believer in lifelong learning so I try to instill that belief and a curiosity to learn more into my students. As an educator, hopefully I am seen as being fair, informative and inspiring.

SCET: What are your teaching highlights? What do you believe in as a teacher?

JD: I can’t honestly say that I have any particular highlights, I like what I do so each day is a challenge and a highlight in its own way.

I believe that there is always another way to explain, to learn, to teach and to grow.

SCET: You travel a lot while teaching. Why did you choose to live in Ankara, Turkey?

JD: It just happened that way…

SCET: Which country did you like the most as an EFL teacher? Please tell us about the most memorable experience you’ve had while teaching abroad – the one that has made a long-lasting impact on you.

JD: Wherever I happen to be living I try to make the best of so, wherever it is that I am, it is where I want to be. I travel a lot so if a new place captures my interest I visit and many times I return if I really like it.

I once taught a class of 11 year old Turkish Cypriot students. For the year-end show we had learned a famous speech, in English, which they all took turns to present in choral style. None of the students knew that the President of the country was in the audience listening to them. At the end of the show when it was time for the President to give his speech he congratulated the group that gave “that very important speech” in English. My students talked about that memory for years.

SCET: You’re a Disabled Access Friendly Campaign Ambassador. Tell us the story behind your involvement. What duties and responsibilities do you have and what do you like about your work there?

JD: It is a good cause and it allows me to help spread the word and to raise awareness of an important issue. I think that if we raise more socially aware students through our teaching we are doing a more thorough job than just teaching a language.

SCET: You have prepared a presentation Listen to Your Eyes together with 1097981_10152243204308290_1306413351_nJulia Alivertis. What kind of preparation has gone into it?

JD: A lot of laughter, a few tense moments, a lot of email exchanges and quite a few skype calls. She lives in Greece and I live in Turkey and yet we got it done. Art is universal and speaks to so many human values and concerns, we hope you all enjoy our presentation and take something positive away from it.

SCET: Why do you consider art to be the right learning tool for both language learners and future English teachers? In what way was art beneficial for your own language learning?

JD: We chose Art because we both feel that it allows so much to be expressed. We both like very different types of Art for very different reasons, some of which may become apparent in our presentation. We both appreciate works of art in our own way, for our own reasons, and this is why we feel it is such a beneficial tool for the classroom, there really is no right or wrong in Art, there is just expression. Introduce the Art and then let expression and response happen, don’t judge, just exchange, let language happen.

SCET: What do you like doing in your free time?

JD: Free time? I’m a teacher, what is that? But I do like to cook and eat, swim, take long, wandering hikes and take photographs.

Jeffrey Doonan has been a teacher of English and the Social Sciences for more than 25 years. Currently living and learning in Ankara, Turkey, he has lived around the eastern end of the Mediterranean for more than 2 decades now and fully enjoys the cultures, cuisines and lifestyles of the area. He attends International ELT Conferences and has given several professional presentations, as well as representing the Disabled Access Friendly Campaign as one of their Ambassadors. He is an avid photographer and enjoys a good cup of coffee.

Workshop with Julia Alivertis: LISTEN TO YOUR EYES: ART IN THE ELT CLASSROOM
4 SKILLS/Culture – UPPER Secondary/UNI – C1-C2 – ALL TEACHERS
SATURDAY 11:15-12:15 in CANBERRA

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3 thoughts on “Jeffrey Doonan: Believing in Lifelong Learning

  1. Reblogged this on Stop Complaining – Enjoy Teaching! and commented:

    Jeffrey teaches in Turkey but will be presenting with Julia Alivertis from Greece at this year’s conference on using art in the classroom. We have the feeling there’s much more to this teacher than meets the eye 🙂

  2. Pingback: Jeffrey Doonan: Believing in Lifelong Learning | Just Me

  3. I have had the privilege of being taught by Jeffrey in Turkey and let me tell you he is one of the most interesting personalities you are ever likely to come across. A very welcoming teacher who became more of a mentor to me. He interacts with the students on a level of great mutual respect and tries to personalize with the students in the correct way as to make them as comfortable as possible. He knows how to make his classes interesting and engage with the students. In my honest opinion, a quite amazing teacher, one of the best I have ever had, and an even better human being.

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