Literature Strikes Back! – Guest Post by Dimitris Primalis and Chryssanthe Sotiriou #iatefl13

Dimitris Primalis

Dimitris Primalis

Dimitris has been teaching EFL for 20 years. His experience covers a wide range of groups including young learners, teenagers, adults, exam prep classes and Business English. He has also written 5 test booklets for Macmillan and is a freelance materials designer. He also served as TESOL Chair and very successfully ran this year’s TESOL Greece Convention.

Chryssanthe has obtained a BA in English Literature from the English Department of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and a postgraduate diploma with distinction  in Translation from the University of Mons-Hainaut in Belgium, being a scholar of the ‘Alexander Onassis’ Foundation.chryssanthe

They will also be presenting Literature strikes back! The return of a vanishing art or how to teach literature with technology at IATEFL Conference on Wednesday , 10th April at 15:05 (Hall 11b).

Thought that literature is dead with the advent of technology?  Shouldn’t books be permanently exhibited in history museums next to dinosaurs and other fossils? Can a computer whiz kid be persuaded to read a romantic novel written by Daphne du Maurier?

For those of us who thought that literature had been wiped out by the invasion of technology in our daily teaching, the answer is : literature is too hard to die!!!

Web 2.0 tools, YouTube clips and social media/collaborative platforms seem to have become powerful allies of books in teachers’ efforts to stimulate learners ‘  interest and initiate them in the magical world of words.

Brought up in a world that gadgets are deified, teenagers  only find it natural to spend more time tapping or clicking; browsing webpages rather than reading the masterpieces their parents and parents once loved. Is mere exposure to genres found on the internet enough to help our learners enrich their vocabulary and use proficiently a wide range of linguistic features that will need later on in their personal and professional life? Let’s compare a typical story on Facebook and one in a book. They may both narrate a similar story but they employ different means of illustrating the story line. The former may feature videos or photos, emoticons and chunks of language whereas the latter uses  a wide range of words to convey feelings, describe actions and background and convey messages. Students can benefit from both worlds provided that teachers adopt a clearly structured methodology. It is pedagogy that makes the difference and technology is its most powerful ally.

Apart from enriching lexis, literature can also serve as a stimulus for discussing ideas and morals while provoking heated debates on eternal dilemmas. Love, friendship, struggle for  wealth and power, leadership, corruption, ethics are only a few of the issues that  are raised through literary texts and our students cannot afford to miss them.

Literature empowers, enlightens and broadens horizons … it simply allows you to dream and use your critical thinking instead of reacting mechanically.

Thank you so much, Chryssanthe and Dimitris!

From Zug to Belgium – A BELTA Webinar

BELTA Belgium

BELTA Belgium

Today was the day of the first webinar for BELTA Belgium, a great new association for English teachers in Belgium and everywhere, in fact! BELTA was founded by James Taylor, Mieke Kenis, Ellen de Preter, Guido van Landeghem and Jurgen Basstanie. You can read more about the foundation of BELTA and also watch the launch event here.

I was asked to do the first webinar for BELTA, which I accepted with great joy and honour. The topic was Professional Development for Now and the Future: A Guide to 2013 and you can watch the slideshow below:

I have also created a PDF file with the most useful links.

BELTA Presentation – Useful Notes

Here is the link with the recording of the webinar, which will also be published on the BELTA blog, Facebook and Twitter.

A huge thank you to BELTA and everyone who was there (including my parents!), in the Adobe Connect room and to my sister, Eugenia, who was there in the same room as I was, cheering us all on (and also helped me find a title to this blog post)!

A screen capture of the webinar (Photo by Roseli Serra)

A screen capture of the webinar (Photo by Roseli Serra)

Mike Griffin: Reflecting and Reviewing, But Not Ranting : ) (@michaelegriffin)

Mike Griffin (Photo by Mike Griffin)

Mike Griffin (Photo by Mike Griffin)

I am extremely happy to present you with an interview I have been thinking about for a very long time with one of the people I admire tremendously. Mike Griffin! I connected with Mike in December 2011 on Twitter initially – he stood out for being one of those educators who has great opinions and ideas on education. He also has an amazing sense of humour! I was so happy that he started his own blog, which contains super pieces of writing. Mike blogs at ELT Rants, Reviews and Reflections. Heeeeere’s Mike!

Vicky: First of all, a huge thank you for accepting to do this interview – as you know, you are one of my favourite people on Twitter and Facebook, so this is a huge honour for me!

Mike:  The pleasure and honour is all mine! #Whoop! Thanks so much for having me. It has been such fun getting to know you on those channels.

Vicky: You teach in South Korea as a lot of us know, as you are one of the most well-known people in the PLN and offer lots to educators on a daily basis. However, can you tell us where and what kind of classes you have, for the people who meet you for the first time?

Mike: I live and work in Seoul. My “day job” is teaching in the graduate school of a university here. I guess it is easiest to say that I have two different jobs within that job. In the first, I teach Business English, Academic English, or Discussion-focused classes for grad students in the International Studies major. In the second I run weekly seminars in simultaneous interpretation for students doing an MA in interpretation and translation. Students come into class with a Korean speech that they read while others interpret simultaneously and I frantically listen to as many interpretations as I can. After that students give each other feedback on what they heard and then I do my best to answer questions and give feedback on what I heard. Everyone always wonders if my Korean ability is good enough for this. It’s not. I actually just listen to the English anyway.

Additionally, I have been (co-)teaching Curriculum Development on the New School MATESOL program for a few terms. I also work on a trainer/mentor training course for public school teachers.  I feel pretty busy after writing that.
As for being well-known, that is news to me!

Vicky: Well, it’s the truth! Was teaching your first choice as a profession?

Mike: Not really. Kind of. I am not sure. I actually entered university as an Education major but switched to History shortly thereafter. I thought I might like to be a history teacher for a while but then the allure of living in other cultures was too much.

Vicky: How did you get to Korea in the first place and what do you like the most about living there? Was there anything that surprised you in your first few months there?

Mike: I decided in my final term during my undergrad I wanted to teach and travel. Korea jumped out at me for a few reasons. It was far away and seemed different. At that time (12+ years ago now) not a lot of people knew about Korea, especially as compared to Japan. I was interested in going to a place that was not so widely known. I was also interested in how Korea was changing so rapidly and had undergone such dramatic changes in the past 50 years. I was lucky enough to get in contact online with a Canadian guy that was leaving his job and I appreciated how honest he was about the good and not-so-good things about the position.

The most surprising thing for me in my first few months in South Korea is the thing that still surprises me the most. Buildings go up so quickly! It is amazing. You might go somewhere you haven’t been in a month and see 3-4 new buildings. Even after all this time it still surprises me.

Vicky: You are a huge proponent of Reflective Practice in Teaching and one of the founders of the first RPSIG (Reflective Practice Special Interest Group) in the world, based in Korea. How did you enter this area of interest? How did you start the SIG?

Mike: Wow, great question. I was lucky enough to see and get connected a bit with Dr. Thomas Farrell at a special day-long workshop in 2008. Reflection was also a big part of my MATESOL at the New School as well as my training to be a World Learning/SIT Teacher Trainer. I saw a lot of benefits when I started trying to see my teaching as it was and started talking and writing about it. I guess reflection and reflective practice appealed to me before I even know what they were or what they were called.

Vicky: You present a lot at conferences throughout the year and do a lot of workshops for teachers. What do you enjoy the most about them?

Mike: I absolutely love the sound of my own voice. Wait, no, that is not the right answer. For the past few years I have been averaging about 1 presentation a month, which is something I am looking forward to cutting back on in 2013. I truly enjoy presenting and giving workshops, though. I find it is great learning opportunity for me to discover my hidden beliefs on certain areas as well as to explore thoughts and ideas that I was not so familiar with. The other thing I enjoy is helping teachers see how their experiences and thoughts matter and how they can make their own decisions about their classes.

Vicky: What would you advise teachers who are a bit reluctant to present?

Mike after a workshop (Photo by Mike Griffin)

Mike after a workshop (Photo by Mike Griffin)

Mike: Just start by starting. Don’t worry about being perfect or blowing people’s minds. Audiences are generally very supportive (especially if you come off as a fellow explorer and not an expert telling people what they *should be doing). I think it can be pretty nerve-wracking at first but it gets easier. My other advice would be that you don’t need to start out with big huge presentations but can start with smaller sessions for your colleagues or friends or something along those lines. I’d also advise being patient and not taking it personally if and when rejections come.

Vicky: Let’s move on to your blog, which is one of my absolute favourites. If I have to choose the top 5, yours is definitely among them. How did you start it and what inspires you to write?

Mike: Thanks so much! It is always great to get positive feedback but even better to get positive feedback from someone that you respect (and someone that has an excellent blog themself!).

I love blogging. I can’t believe it took me so long to get into it. I did dabble with student blogs and blogs that I ran for students back in the olde days of 2007 but I never thought about having my own blog. The constant nagging encouragement of my dear friend Josette LeBlanc (@josetteLB) who has an amazing blog over at tokenteach (http://tokenteach.wordpress.com/)  was the main push for me to blog. I joined Twitter in 2011 just after the KOTESOL International Conference after Chuck Sandy encouraged the audience in his fantastic presentation to do so. From there after engaging with the community having a blog seemed like a natural next step. I think Twitter is fantastic but the tyranny of 140 characters can be a bit strong at times so it is nice to have a space to share some thoughts.

As for my inspiration to blog, there are a few ideas and rants that I just needed to get out of my system and blogging has been great for that. I have noticed how the simple fact of just having a blog changes my thought process. For example, something interesting or strange might occur in class but now that I have a blog I sometimes think about these events under the lens of “How would I write about this in the blog?” and I think it tends to give me more/different insights than I would have otherwise. I guess I didn’t really answer your question about what inspires me to write but it is partially things I need to get off my chest, lessons I have learned that I want to share, questions I am working through, funny (in my opinion at least) stories I want to share, or other people’s ideas I want to share.

Vicky: You are very active on social media and share a great deal with educators all around the world. Can you give us some insight into how you use each medium and what you see as a benefit? Which downsides are there?

Mike: “Very active on social” media is a very nice way to put it. Haha. I am on the computer a lot for work and Facebook and Twitter are enticing breaks. I mostly use Twitter for professional things (though I am not afraid to be silly and whimsical) and Facebook for keeping in touch with friends and family and sharing random thoughts and links. In the past 6-10 months I have been adding more and more Twitter friends on Facebook and it has been interesting. I suppose “worlds colliding” could be a potential downside but I have been lucky enough (as far as I know) to not experience negative impact from merging my professional and personal digital selves. I think there are always risks inherent in any sort of communication but I have been very pleased with my social “networking for professional development experiment.” I guess I mostly share links and try to connect with people. I have been thrilled to discover amazing people who work in similar as well as drastically different contexts in Korea and around the world. Pooling knowledge and ideas with educators around the world has been an inspiring experience.

Vicky: Before our interview, I asked you which your favourite ELT book is and yours is Understanding Teaching Through Learning. Can you give us some details about it – why would you recommend it? By the way, I have already ordered it and thank you for that!

Mike: That is great news! That book was a great intro for me about many things related to teacher training and reflection. It is also a great source of ideas and material for running workshops. I think the authors did a great job of taking complicated ideas and making them accessible and engaging. Something I especially love about that book is how it offers something for teacher across all experience levels.

Mike's reading recommendation (image taken from http://www.amazon.com)

Mike’s reading recommendation (image taken from http://www.amazon.com)

Vicky: Now let’s move on to Mike outside teaching. What do you enjoy doing when you have a spare moment?

Mike: I don’t have as many spare moments as I would like but traveling and reading are at the top of my list. Combining the two and reading on a beach in a new country is blissful for me.

Aside from my big interest in ELT am also interested in sports, movies, comedy, business, politics, and suddenly social networking.

Vicky: I asked you about your favourite movie before I interviewed you and it is The Big Lebowski – to be honest, I have never seen it, even though I have heard about it before. I had homework to do and learn more about it! Please tell us more about it and why you like it.

Mike:  You have to see it! It’s hilarious. It is also one of those movies that gets better the more you see it. I don’t just recommend watching it once, I recommend watching it at least 5 times. Then things will make a bit more sense. I found it extremely witty and funny and I was especially impressed with the dialogue. I won’t say more because I don’t want to spoil the fun for you. I imagine when you (finally) see it you might recognize some of the lines because people have been saying them around you for years.

Vicky: Nerdy question coming up: have you ever taught with it?

Mike: That is a really #TESOLgeek –y question! It is also a great idea because I have never used it in class. Some of the dialogues would be great. I am imaging it now. I think you might be a bit out of your element if I start telling you what scenes would be good so I will wait for you to get back to me.

Vicky: Mike, a huge thank you for this interview, for your insight and your time. I really hope to meet you face to face soon!

Mike: Thank YOU. Thank you for having me. Thank you for all the support. Thanks for all the laughs and smiles. Thank you for all the sharing and community building that you do. And thank you for being you. Rock on!

(I am very much looking forward to meeting you face to face. I am willing to go on record that all the cake you can eat will be my treat!)

Vicky’s Notes: I would like to thank Mike very much for helping me find a title for his blog – wordplay on his blog title! And thank you – I never say no to cake!

Professional Development for Now and the Future (Inspired by @michaelegriffin)

(Photo from #eltpics: taken by Chiew Pang, aka @AClilToClimb)

(Photo from #eltpics: taken by Chiew Pang, aka @AClilToClimb)

I was reading one of my favourite blogs this morning, ELT Rants, Reviews and Reflections by Mike Griffin. All of his posts stand out, but one particularly stood out, called Next Step(s) in Professional Development [Workshop Materials]. I believe that the tips Mike has included should be with us throughout our careers as educators. As I have mentioned before, the advantage in our profession is that we can learn something new every day!

Here are Mike’s tips in bold – my comments and thoughts follow.

Mike’s Suggestions for Professional Development

  1. Take a break! :)  This is something I have been thinking about since last year, when I read a great post by Ceri Jones. Her post Flashes of Inspiration was exactly what I needed at that moment and a kind of awakening – sometimes we forget to make time for ourselves or take a break even for a few minutes. I have started to learn how to do that and I have decided to keep at it until I achieve this goal! I have also written about this in one of my recent posts, My Learning for 2012 – A Post for @iTDipro.
  2. Be a mentor. I started mentoring teachers when I still lived in Greece and have continued ever since. I think that I also learn from them and I have decided to do it even more this year. The same way I get motivation and useful feedback when I am with my mentors, I hope that the educators I advise get something out of it.
  3. Be a mentee. Eyes and ears open to my mentors this year, more than ever! I need to schedule more meetings with them. I know we are all pressured for time, but it is up to me to make more time. I appreciate their feedback and advice tremendously and this year it will happen more often!
  4. Observe and be observed (Observe yourself as well). I haven’t been in other educators’ classrooms for quite a while and will definitely start doing it again. As many times as I have observed other teachers, I have learned a great deal. I will also ask colleagues if they would like to come to my classes. I will be grateful for their feedback. Last year, I did not observe any classes at all or was observed at all – this has to change. Here is a great post by Gemma Lunn on observation, Self-Observation Part 1: How do I look?
  5. Study something new. (Another language?) That, I have already started – Turkish! It has been a goal of mine for years. Now is the time – and with a couple of trips in the pipeline this year to beautiful Turkey, I hope I can learn the basics at least in order to communicate with the lovely people. It is quite a challenge, but I am enjoying it. I love how it sounds! I have started with an online program and will start lessons with a teacher soon, hopefully.
  6. Teach something new. This has got me thinking…what could it be? It is a great idea! I’m all for new things this year.
  7. Experiment (and keep experimenting!) Different ideas for various learning styles, the same lesson in different versions, new types of technology, collaborative teaching, let the students take more and more ownership of their learning…the list is endless of what we can do!
  8. Use the internet effectively.  (Places like Twitter/Facebook/teacher development groups/cafés) This I love doing and will encourage other educators to do more and more! I have not looked back on my decision to join Twitter three years ago, or Facebook a few months ago. I have learned so many things and have connected with so many great educators – I never get tired of saying how great connecting and networking is, be it over social media, or in teacher groups.
  9. Join conferences (think about presenting). This is another huge source of learning – conferences and workshops: not only attending, but the inbetween time as well, where teachers talk and network and have the chance to reflect. It is also great to take the plunge and present! Move out of your comfort zone. I have learned so much from presenting and I will also continue doing it this year.
  10. Reflect, reflect, reflect. Mike is the right person to give us this piece of advice – he is one of the people who emphasizes reflection and is a co-founder of the very first RPSIG worldwide (Reflective Practice Special Interest Group), based in South Korea. Get other teachers and set up reflection groups. Go to conferences and sessions on the topic. Write a journal, take notes – anything that can help you look on your teaching with a different eye – focus on the positive and negative points. This will definitely be a priority for me this year and from now on.
  11. Put yourself in new positions. This says it all. Try everything. Don’t be afraid – just try! Go back, do it differently. Reflect (here it is again!) and see what you did well. What didn’t work, you can fix another time! It can help us all externalise our abilities and discover ones that we did not know we had inside us.

Mike’s tips have been printed and gone into my Moleskine diary!

My Learning in 2012 – A Post for @iTDipro #iTDi

The great educators at iTDi, The International Teachers’ Development Institute, have been writing post on the website about what they have learnt in 2012.

This year has been a great year in learning for me, not only for my profession but for myself in general.

  • Once again, I have attended amazing conferences and workshops, where I have learnt a great deal and networked with amazing educators.
  • A very important thing I learned – pretty late, but better late than never! Facebook rocks for teachers! I absolutely love it. I had only been on Twitter for three years and my great friend James Taylor and Ania Musielak managed to get me to take the plunge – I really wonder why I hadn’t done it earlier. It is much more visual for me and I can learn a lot from various groups I have joined. It is truly a buzzing community of educators. Plus when I joined, I really felt like I opened a door to a house full of friends!
  • I am really trying to improve my German – both for myself and out of respect to this wonderful country. I am trying to learn it the way I can best, the way I learn other things as well  – by looking and listening. Not through traditional methods and I completely refuse to follow them. For me they just don’t work, as I feel I am running into a wall. For that reason, I observe and try to speak with people and friends around me as much as possible. I also listen to lots of podcasts and that has improved it quite a lot.
  • I have started learning Turkish for the past three weeks, ever since I returned from lovely Istanbul. I have been learning on an online programme and will start lessons very soon! I love how it sounds. I would love to be able to communicate next time I go there again!Quote-287
  • I have learned to make time for myself, for things I like – be it a simple thing that makes me feel good. It can be reading a book, having a nice cup of coffee or eating cake. If I feel okay, I am healthy and then I am feeling fine for my students as well!
  • Most importantly, after fifteen years of teaching, I have learned (and I am actually applying it much better than I thought) not to self-flagellate when something goes wrong, either in my teaching or in life in general. I see every mistake, every mishap as just one more thing ahead and that I will try no matter what to correct it or not repeat it.

I hope 2013 is full of health, happiness and even more learning for all of us! I wish everybody a Happy New Year!

Interviews with Three New Bloggers for My Three Years of Blogging – Number Three: Carol Goodey

Carol Goodey

Carol Goodey

My third guest for this special celebration is Carol Goodey, an educator from Scotland who was one of the first people I connected to on Twitter. I admire her work immensely and there were times when I wished she would start blogging – and she did! You can read her great blog at http://cgoodey.wordpress.com/

Vicky: Carol, welcome to my blog with this interview for the celebration of three new bloggers and the third birthday of my blog! I am so happy as you have been one of the first people I ever connected to online three years ago, and we have been in close connection ever since.

Carol: Thank you for asking me to be part of this celebration, Vicky. It’s a real honour to be featured on your blog. Congratulations on your blog’s third birthday!

Vicky: For those of our readers who meet you for the first time, can you introduce yourself and tell us about your work in education as well?

Carol: I live in Scotland and work with the local authority in community learning and development as an adult literacies and ESOL worker. I get to work with a range of people who want to improve their literacies, numeracy and English language for use in the different contexts of their lives. I work with people who have moved to the area from around the world and people who have lived here for much longer, including people with learning disabilities. I really enjoy the variety.

Vicky: How did you decide to become involved in education?

Carol:  I first started as a volunteer literacies tutor and, working with ESOL learners, decided I wanted to find out more about language learning. I had already done studies in the English language and was happy to have an excuse to do more! While I was pursuing further studies, a paid literacies post became available. I applied and got it. I worked there for a few years before moving on to work with university students but quickly realized that I missed the community learning and development approach and was fortunate to be able to get my job back.

Vicky: You have chosen social media to connect with many teachers around the world. How did you start out? What are the benefits and challenges, if any?

Carol:  I was following an English Language Teaching discussion group. Some of the contributors mentioned Twitter and so, out of curiosity, I investigated. It took me three tries to finally get the hang of it. I’m glad I did because, through it, I’ve got to know some really interesting practitioners and learned a huge amount. More recently, I’ve been using Facebook to connect with other educators but I’m still getting used to that.

Vicky: There are several educators who are not connected to others on social media. What would you like to tell them?

Carol: Give it a go! It can be overwhelming at times, particularly when you first start but if you build up the people you follow slowly, get to know them, add the people they are chatting to, and don’t try to read everything, it can be a very worthwhile and enjoyable experience.

Vicky: Can you share one of the best moments in your teaching so far?

Carol: I’m really excited about a project I’ve been working on with a Community Learning and Development colleague which aims to bring people from different parts of the community together to learn about, with and from each other. We wanted to promote social inclusion and increase awareness of different people’s abilities, backgrounds and beliefs. We started with big engagement events – a ceilidh, food night, singing workshop and beetle drive – and are hoping to continue with similar events alongside more regular and sustainable activities such as sporting groups, international coffee mornings, etc. It’s been really enjoyable and we’ve had a lot of really positive feedback.  While not teaching exactly, there have been lots of valuable learning opportunities. ESOL learners have had the opportunities to use English and get to know more local people. Other community members have learned more about people from other countries and have developed their own skills in communicating with speakers of other languages, making integration and inclusion that wee bit easier.

Vicky: You have recently started a blog. How did you decide to set up your own?

Carol:  It’s taken me a while to set up my own, but I’ve been enjoying and learning from others for so long I felt I should make a contribution too. I had put it off because, with so many great blogs out there, I didn’t see what I would have to add. I was also a bit nervous about the time commitment, or spam, or other unforeseen hassles. But now that I’ve started, I’ve found that I really enjoy the process of writing. I find it absorbing and relaxing. It’s good to have a space whenever I feel I have something to share.

Vicky: Can you close with a wish to all educators, with the holidays getting closer?

Carol: If you do have holidays over the next few weeks, I hope you get the chance to have some space for yourself and take time to enjoy the small pleasures in life – whatever they might be for you.

Vicky: A huge thank you, Carol! I hope to meet you in person sometime next year!

Carol: It’s been a real pleasure, Vicky. Thank you for having me and I look forward to meeting you soon!

The Ideal Classroom – My Post for Tyson Seburn’s (@seburnt) Blog Challenge

A snap of the chalkboard I used last week

A couple of days ago, Tyson Seburn wrote about his experiences in his teaching environment in his post What classroom is perfect?

I decided to take up his blog challenge – here it is!

When we had our school in Greece, we had 11 classrooms – not to blow our own horn, but in each classroom the teachers had all the equipment they needed. The school also had a computer lab and a room with an interactive whiteboard. Therefore, the equipment could be moved easily if needed, or the teachers and their students could easily be moved to the room they wanted to use, easily. We did this out of respect to our teachers and students, to make everyone feel comfortable and content to teach and learn.

When I moved here in Switzerland, I started teaching at various places until I could get enough work – in schools, companies, banks – you name it. Some places, had the works as far as equipment was concerned, some were okay in some I had to teach in my coat and gloves (yes, you read correctly). Thankfully, only a couple of places match the last description.

An example of an excellent teaching environment is the public college I started teaching at here last year, the Kaufmännisches Bildungszentrum Zug – the admin people, secretaries and teachers are amazing to work with and the classrooms…wow, the classrooms!

- Whiteboards (three or four of them that you can shift on the walls)

- Chalkboards

- Poster paper (huge rolls of them!)

- Sinks

- Computers

….wait till you hear this…

- 3D projectors!!! I LOVE THEM!

A great place to teach – a place that respects its educators and students. Shouldn’t all schools be like this? Some aren’t, understandably due to their restricted budgets, some because the people who own them do not care.

Let’s hope we see lots of great working environments in this blog challenge set by Tyson!

An #ELTChat Summary – What do we do when a lesson goes horribly wrong? How do you cope and recover?

What if the students are not so concentrated – what if the lesson is not going well? (Image from #eltpics – taken by Laura Phelps @pterolaur)

Today’s lunchtime ELTChat was about yet another very interesting topic. It has happened to all of us – a lesson goes wrong, the opposite of what we expected. How do we handle it?

We started off with what kind of bad lessons there are:
– Losing the students; when they do not co-operate or understand
– A tech glitch that throws the planned lesson completely off track
– The lesson not meeting our expectations, leaving the students and ourselves confused
– When something exciting has happened before the lesson and the students find it difficult to concentrate
– In general, our lesson plan going completely awry

How do we know?
– The students have a confused / glazed over look
– The student in one case informed the teacher, quite rudely, that she did not want to do the task designated
– In another case, a student ran out of the class crying

And here came some really great replies:
What do we do in these cases?
– We reached a general consensus that it is better to switch activities and after the lesson, sit down and reflect on what went wrong. It is not advisable to do away with the said lesson plan, but it is even better to adjust/change it, in order to use it more effectively in the future.
– It was mentioned that it is a great idea to have fillers up our sleeves to manage in such situations, when something does not work.
– It is generally better to sometimes admit in class that something did not work / was not suitable and perhaps even discuss with the students what went wrong / what could be done better next time.
– Having the confidence to stop is a great thing; acknowledge an idea is not working and just move on. Keeping yourself calm is also important, as it can be a difficult moment.
– Leave space to customise for each student / group of stiudents. It is essential to be flexible with our lesson plans.

Lessons that do not work can leave inexperienced teachers lacking in confidence. What would we advise them?
– That it is okay when a lesson fails – it can prove to be a learning experience. What happened? What was the lesson plan like? Which group were you teaching on the given day?
– There was a very nice quote: “Making mistakes shows you are trying!”
– A bad day can happen to anyone.

Useful links that came up during the talk:
Jane and Dave Willis’ ELT Website.
Cybraryman’s Lesson Plans page.

Today’s super moderators were:
– Shaun Wilden (@ShaunWilden)
– James Taylor (@theteacherjames)

Today’s contributors were:
– Sue Lyon-Jones (@esolcourses)
– Naomi Epstein (@naomishema)
– Mike Griffin (@michaelegriffin)
– Evidence-Based EFL (@EBEFL)
– TtMadrid TEFL Course (@TtMadridTEFL)
– Amelie Silvert (@TeacherSilvert)
– Gisele Santos (@feedtheteacher)
– Julie Moore (@lexicojules)
– Leo Selivan (@leoselivan)and also introducing wonderful teachers in Azerbaijan to Twitter! @Samiratey, @FatimaFatima28, @Sevinc8996, @taira_akhundova, @OfeliyaG
– Stephanie McIntosh (@purple_steph)
– Tamas Lorincz (@tamaslorincz)
– M. Lincoln (@arrudamatos)
– Oksan Yagar (@OksanYagar)

Monday Morning Inspiration – My Post for Brad Patterson’s (@brad5patterson) Blog Challenge

Some books from my collection

A few weeks ago, Brad Patterson, a fantastic person and educator located in France, and a person I am honoured to call a friend, posted a blog challenge on his blog A Journée in Language – Brad asked us to say which quote defines our teaching style. In the comments section, there is a huge number of amazing and inspiring quotes! I mentioned one that I (still) cannot remember who said it or if it was exactly said that way: A good teacher is always a learner.

I was going to write about that one. This morning though, as I was getting ready for class, drinking my coffee and checking out Twitter, I found this by Chris McCullough in Red Deer, Alberta:

The best part of my job is that it has inspired me to always be a learner… #teaching #abed

It hit me! This is it! A short, beautiful sentence that sums it all up so perfectly. Lots of us wake up so inspired every morning to go to work, which is so inspiring and motivating, it cannot even be called work. On a daily basis we all strive to do our best…and learn.

  • From social media: numerous are the posts and articles that mention Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to name but a few media that have greatly assisted educators worldwide to connect and learn from each other. It is unbelievable to see how many collaborations have begun, posts been written, conferences organised and educators connected face-to-face thanks to social media.
  • From books (paper, electronic or audio): a lot of educators continue reading about education wherever they are. Commuting on a train has become a joy for me as I can find lots of time to read – and I learn a great deal in the process!
  • Studies: Many decide to continue their studies and go on to Masters or PhDs, or do further courses  to enrich their knowledge and benefit their students as well.
  • Mentoring: Educators learn daily from other educators with rich experience and advice which can help them in their profession.
  • Conferences and workshops: A great number give up their weekends and free time in general (and great amounts of money, very often from their own budget) to attend conferences and workshops, very often far away from home and their families. It is another great way to learn and network with interesting people.

So, keep up the good work of learning every day! You are doing something great for yourself, as a aperson and educator, and your students can only see benefits from it.

A big thank you to Chris McCullough for his fantastic tweet-quote that made my day and my teaching career! You can visit Chris’s blog The Pocket Rocket to read some very inspiring posts.

A big thank you to Brad Patterson for an inspiring blog challenge, that collected a great number of great quotes from all over the world.