Harry Waters is a teacher and teacher trainer based in Spain. He’s worked in both academies and schools all over the world and has an incredibly hands-on approach to teaching – intent on bringing his classes to life with games for students both young and old.
In today’s blog, he reflects on his experience being a Pearson and BBC Live Classes trainer. Read on to find out more about the project and what Harry enjoys most about being involved.
Tuesday the 10th of November 2020 is going to be a day I remember for an awfully long time. It felt like a landmark day in my teaching career. You know, one of those days when everything just falls into place.
Introducing Pearson and BBC Live Classes
Back in August I was asked if I’d like to be a part of a team of trainers for the Pearson and BBC Live Classes project. To be considered was an honour and, as you can imagine, I accepted. In fact, I was over the moon.
What are Live Classes?
Pearson and BBC Live Classes is an award-winning initiative set up 3 years ago by Pearson English to connect classes of teenagers across the globe. Simply put, one trainer connects with up to 12 different classrooms and delivers a Live Class using learning materials from various Pearson and BBC collaborations, like Now I Know, GoGetter, Wider World and Focus. Each of the classes has been prepared to allow for maximum interaction between classes, countries and cultures using breakout rooms and other digital tools.
There is also a Big Live Lesson, which is a webinar style class for up to 450 students. With so many lockdowns across the globe, this has been a great way for students to connect with others in a dynamic and multicultural class, from the comfort of their homes.
This year I’m teaching lesson D for students aged 12-16. You can visit the website to find out more about all the lessons on offer.
Live Classes has grown in popularity over the past few years, and in 2020 it was time for the team to expand. Two of last year’s trainers Michael Brand and Liz Beer returned, joined by Dan Shepherd, Cholé Dennis, Vanessa Hartson Walker and me, Harry Waters. What I’ve found amazing about being part of this team is how well we’ve all bonded and helped each other work. It’s been incredibly motivating as a trainer to have such great support from your peers – both in class and behind the scenes.
My first class was on Monday 19th October. I was nervous. I’d put so much effort and love into the lesson I couldn’t bear to think of it not being perfect on the day. It reminded me of the first time I went in front of a classroom full of “real” students. I knew I was prepared for the class. I just had to go ahead and do it.
In the end, I don’t know what I was worried about – the classes were so much fun, and I got to meet lots of new teachers and students from across the world. I thought I’d done a good job. But like most first times, you know things will only get better with practice.
My next class was on Tuesday 10th November. I’m going to be honest with you, I didn’t sleep much on the night before. I started the day with my Big Live Lesson (the webinar format class) and an incredible 173 students – the atmosphere was fantastic! (Bear in mind that in October my class only had 8 students in it, so I was a bit worried the same thing would happen again).
We all had a good laugh about how terrible I am at saying of Polish names. My pronunciation is atrocious. But what I enjoyed most about the class, as the teacher, was getting to know so many people in such a short space of time.
We had teenagers from Poland, Armenia, the Czech Republic, Indonesia, Croatia, Belgium and Japan. Despite their varying levels of English and the potential cultural differences, I was really impressed with the fluidity of the class. They managed to chat with each other, share ideas through voice recordings (using padlet) and share opinions using mentimeter.
In the Big Live Lesson, the students were engaged throughout. They responded well to the materials, but what was most important was the connections they were making with other people across the world.
When it came to the Live Classes, I was impressed with how well prepared the students and teachers were. I was also amazed by how responsible everyone was to ensure COVID-19 guidelines were followed to prevent further spread and keep schools open. Those who don’t teach or work in education might not have any idea about the sacrifices teachers everywhere make. But what I saw was a huge effort being made to help students not only learn English – but also to have a different and exciting experience during a difficult year.
One wonderful moment came at the end of one of my classes, when the teachers were able to make connections with each other from around the world. One teacher from Argentina discussed with a teacher in Croatia about the large Croatian population in Argentina. Giuliana, from Argentina, shared that her husband is of Croatian descent. Svilana, the Croatian teacher, then shared with her Ukrainian counterpart that her family was from Ukraine.
Another highlight came when the students returned from their breakout room. Students from two different hemispheres shared in the revelation that teenagers everywhere still like doing the same things. The weather, time zone and language may vary between Croatia and Argentina. But it doesn’t mean that teenagers don’t want to go out, see their friends, or hang out at the beach.
What do I love most about being a Live Classes trainer? It’s hard to nail down to one thing. But seeing people around the world talking freely and openly about their lives in a judgement free space is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I can’t wait until December’s round of classes.
Sign up for Pearson and BBC Live Classes
If you haven’t yet had the chance to take part in a Live Class or a Big Live Lesson, I promise: it’ll be an experience you and your students won’t forget.
Groups are available for all ages and levels. They’re also repeated monthly at different times to help fit everyone’s schedule.
So what are you waiting for? Sign up today and join me for the next Live Class!