Technologically and linguistically adventurous EFL teacher, trainer, writer and manager

2020

It’s been quite a year. Sometimes it’s felt like hard going, but there have been a lot of highlights, and that’s what I want to look back on at the end of the year. Here goes…

January

I caught up with a friend who I hadn’t seen for 16 years, then went to the IH AMT conference.

I submitted my assignments for my first NILE MA module in Trainer Development, and got a distinction.

I travelled to the UK for a family christening. That week I managed to meet up with my best friend too (that’s important as it’s the only time I’ve seen her in person this year).

February

A birthday cake made of an open book with music notes at the front, and a 'pile' of two books at the back with 'Kate' and 'sixty' written on the spine
My mum’s 60th birthday cake, as made by Amber, my amazing cousin

The following weekend we all got together again for my mum’s 60th. I saw my mum on the morning of her birthday on February 3rd (hope it’s not too much longer before I see her again!)

The aviation museum in Toulouse

I got the train to Toulouse for a few days with a friend, my first time in that part of the world, then carried on to Barcelona for the IH Barcelona conference, where I presented a few ways to tweak speaking activities. The day I arrived I had time to visit Tibidabo for the first time.

The cathedral on Mount Tibidabo in Barcelona

I started gardening for the first time, with the aim of making better use of my balcony and perhaps growing something I could eat.

March

We managed to move our school fully online in two days, thanks to the help and support of IH World. I cried more than once at the amazing way that our staff pulled together to make it all happen so smoothly…just one of many times this year I was grateful to be at IH Bydgoszcz and part of the IH family.

I wrote the first post in my series connected to teaching on Zoom, and it’s been by far the most successful post on my blog all year. My blogging generally stepped up a notch at this point, as it felt like there was so much to process – writing about it really does help. Thanks to everyone who’s read and shared these posts this year.

April

I was a bit worried about my birthday, but I needn’t have been. One lovely friend organised a Zoom birthday party for me, and our teachers had a social that evening where we all played games. It was a lovely day in the end.

Our amazing school Director hand-delivered all of the teachers things to help us stay safe during the first lockdown, and a clockwork Easter chick and a traditional Easter biscuit to make us smile too.

A bottle of disinfectant, face masks, latex gloves, a  yellow clockwork chick, and an Easter biscuit in a box

I made my first hot cross buns.

Hot cross buns on a cooling rack

I organised games on Zoom for the whole family for Easter.

Two groups of old friends and one group of new friends started to meet regularly on Zoom – I’ve definitely grown closer to all of them this year.

I took part in my first panel discussion, an IATEFL online event about moving teaching online.

May

My baking experiments have continued all year, but these cinnamon whirls were a particular success 🙂

A tray of cinnamon whirls

I moved my garden outside and the first flower appeared on a courgette – I was so excited to know I’d grown this!

A courgette plant with one yellow flower

June

I bought a bike and used it to do a lot of exploration in the forest. I’ve spent more time in the forest over the last six months than I probably did in the 4.5 years before that!

My red bike on a path in the forest

At the end of the month I managed a couple of day trips with my colleagues as Poland opened up again, both to places I’d been wanting to visit for a long time. The first was to Inowroclaw, the site of this fascinating piece of architecture designed to collect salt from the local water.

Tall willow (?) walls supported by wooden pillars at an angle, with pillars at various points along the wall. In the centre of the structure is grass

The second was to Malbork, a castle built by the Teutonic knights, and the largest castle in the world.

Malbork Castle - a red-brick fortress with a wall in the foreground, a church in the middle and a tall central tower in the background

July

I did my first online CELTA, and blogged about it with Stephanie Wilbur. It was fascinating comparing our experiences of the course.

I got my first harvest from my little balcony garden – some tiny carrots, beetroot and courgettes.

Carrots, beetroot and courgettes - all very tiny with lots of greenery

August

I visited a local beauty spot and saw more butterflies than I’ve ever seen in one place outside a butterfly house. They posed nicely for photos too 🙂

An orange butterfly with black spots sitting on lavendar

I managed a short holiday to the Polish coast, including a trip on the ‘boat on grass‘ near Elblag…

A boat about to leave the water and be lifted up a grass slope on rails

In Frombork, I saw the grave of Copernicus. This is probably the closest I’ve ever got to having a spiritual moment (I’m not religious at all) – standing so close to a person who moved the world, in a place I know he had lived and worked and stood too. I also fulfilled a lifelong dream: I saw Jupiter and three of its moons, and Saturn and its rings, through a telescope – I’d always wanted to see planets up close.

The monument to Copernicus at his grave

I had a weekend away in this beautiful place near Bydgoszcz, dancing flamenco and eating amazing food with interesting people who were patient with my Polish 🙂

Three white timber-framed buildings surrounded by greenery with a blue sky. In the foreground is  grass with a bench and two tables

Most importantly, August was when I met my boyfriend online and we clicked instantly.

September

Our flamenco concert, postponed from June, happened – there were lots of restrictions (rightly!) but we managed to do it. Well done to Dorota, our amazing teacher, for pulling it all together.

An empty, blue-lit stage. The curtains are closed, There are seats spaced out at the back of the stage

We started off our new school year successfully, combining in class and online lessons in case of a second lockdown – it was so good to be in a classroom with students again! Socially-distanced teaching wasn’t too bad either.

My balcony garden was at its peak.

Flowering petunias

I got to actually meet my boyfriend in person 🙂 My first trip to the UK since February.

October

I managed another quick trip to the UK before lockdowns and restrictions came into force again.

Church and ivy-covered cottages in an English village

I celebrated my 10th blog-iversary – time flies!

November

Despite my flights being cancelled, I managed to spend a relaxing 5-day holiday apart together with my boyfriend.

I was a plenary speaker for KOTESOL.

December

I had fun joining the TEFL Commute team for an episode of their podcast.

Despite not being able to get on my planned flight to the UK, I managed a relaxed Christmas Day, and have had lots of love and support from family and friends.

Overall

I’ve spent more time outside, learnt to garden done more cooking and baking, spent more time appreciating my flat and balcony, chatted more often to more friends, presented at and attended more conferences, learnt far more about teaching in a far shorter period of time than I ever expected to at this point in my career, and met my amazingly lovely boyfriend. So yes, some things haven’t happened, and I haven’t been able to be in the same place as many people I love (soon, I hope!), but on balance, I have to say it’s been a pretty good year.

What good things have happened for you this year?

Comments on: "2020" (8)

  1. Sandy, what a fantastic year you’ve had! Thank you for blogging and sharing so much with us. I really like this blog layout too.

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  2. Happy New Year, Sandy! Glad to see that 2020 had plenty of highlights for you amongst the challenges. Hope 2021 enables you to spend time with loved ones xx

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  3. Hana Tichá said:

    Dear Sandy, it made me so happy to read about your wonderful year. I’ve heard many people say that regardless of what was happening around them last year, 2020 was not bad. Some even said it was the best year ever. I was lucky too, for which I’m immensely grateful. I hope 2021 will be as good for you as the previous one.

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    • Thank you 🙂 I wrote this because I realised I kept thinking 2020 was a really bad year, and that just wasn’t true. Yes, there were isolated bad moments, but they were few and far between, and actually I was very lucky to have such a good year. I’m glad you did too! Here’s to 2021!
      Sandy

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  4. Such a lovely post and I enjoyed watching your garden grow there! I ran further than I’ve ever run before, grew closer to some local friends, took up video calling and weekly reading the same book in two different places with my best friend and read more than I have for a few years. And kept going with my business where many self-employed people really suffered.

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