An interview with eltforum.sk plenary speaker: Chuck Sandy
Part Two – An Interview with Chuck Sandy by Martina Bednáriková
It is said that there are two kinds of teachers: the kind that fill you with so much quail shot that you can’t move, and the kind that just gives you a little prod behind and you jump to the skies. We are pleased to be able to introduce you to just such a teacher. Chuck Sandy, plenary speaker at ELTForum.sk 2013, is undoubtedly one of those inspirational people to whom the students are indebted for living well. As Chuck says, it is only by letting go enough to trust ourselves and others that we finally learn who we are.
SCET: As iTDi Program Director and a Co-Founder you have helped build a global community of teachers with the mission of improving education around the world by making online professional teacher development accessible to all teachers. In what way could Slovak teachers, in particular, collaborate with other educators from all over the world? In other words, what are the benefits connected with being a part of iTDi?
Chuck: The best way to make the world a better place is to improve the quality of education, and the best way to do that is by improving the quality of teachers. We improve the quality of teachers by connecting teachers together, working to build their confidence, helping them improve their teaching and language skills, and motivating them to become even better teachers. This is what we do at itdi.pro and because we’re an online community, we can do it seven days a week, 365 days a year. Online learning and collaboration means we no longer have to wait for wonderful conferences like ELTForum.sk to come along and are no longer limited to learning with teachers from our own country or region. We can learn with teachers around the world and do so whenever it suits our schedule. At iTDi, we have teachers from over 70 different countries in our online community. There are educators from every possible background and teaching context, beginners and experts, native and non-native, all committed to becoming better teachers by collaborating in a safe, caring online community. We have many Slovak teachers now, but we’d like to have many more. By joining, Slovak teachers would come to see that they are part of a worldwide community of committed educators, could participate in international collaborations, improve the quality of English language education in Slovakia, and help other teachers around the world learn more about what it’s like to be a Slovak teacher and more about beautiful Slovakia.
SCET: Besides the benefits, how can we (Slovak teachers) contribute to iTDi? Can we at all?
Chuck: One of our key beliefs is that all teachers have the ability to become leaders in their own communities as well as in the global community of educators. We see this happen often in the iTDi community as local teachers become more confident, begin writing posts in our forums, start collaborative project with teachers from other countries, and participate actively in our online chats and webinars. When we see this happen, we sometimes reach out and ask such a person to become an iTDi Mentor or Associate who then goes on to write posts for the iTDi Blog, create content for our courses, and present for us at regional and international conferences. We currently have one iTDi Associate from Slovakia, Vladimira Chalyova, who’s become one of our most popular bloggers, is a very skilled presenter, and a real role model for other teachers around the world. We’d love to see more Slovak teachers step up to become leaders within iTDi and in the international teaching community. If anyone would like to know how to do that, just ask me, or speak with Vladimira about her own experiences.
SCET: You are not only a frequent presenter at various conferences and workshops around the world, but also a teacher, teacher trainer, author and educational activist. I am just wondering whether you have any free time at all. What do you like doing when you are not working?
Chuck: You make it sound like I’m always working, and though I do stay very busy I have to point out that writing educational materials, teaching, working with teachers, and presenting are fun for me. None of this seems like work. Still, I do try to keep myself balanced and healthy by spending a lot of time working in my garden, playing around with cameras, taking long walks in the countryside, hanging out in bookstores, making myself good things to eat, preparing really great coffee, and drinking that while reading widely about all kinds of different things. I’m never bored. There’s always something I want to do or read about.
Note: Chuck and Vladka will be sharing more about iTDi during a talk at the conference in June.
Chuck Sandy is a teacher, teacher trainer, author & educational activist with 30 years of experience. His many publications include the Passages and Connect series from Cambridge University Press, the Active Skills for Communication series from Cengage Learning, and the English for Teachers course from iTDi. He is a frequent presenter at conferences and workshops around the world, and is a cofounder and director of the International Teacher Development Institute (iTDi). Chuck believes that positive change in education happens one student, one classroom, and one school at a time, and that it arises most readily out of dialogue and in collaboration with other educators. This is the reason he has built a Facebook group with over 9000 teachers from 60 countries. It is also the reason he has worked to spread Design for Change across the world and why he’s become so devoted to the mission that drives iTDi.