The Human Touch Series

(Image taken from
(Image taken from

A year ago, I was asked by the amazing Chuck Sandy to write a blog post for iTDi under the title The Ideal Classroom. I thought about it and a few minutes later, I had a clear picture of an ideal classroom. I thought of all the environments I have worked in: some were picture-perfect, others much less so – no lighting, having lessons in our coats and gloves. But which is the best kind? The ideal one?

Some of them are hi-tech or bare floor. Some are in beautiful modern buildings, some do not even have windows or roofs. Others have tablets and computers for the students;  in other schools kids sit on the ground with little chalkboards, or even draw in the dirt.

Which is the best one? Or even better, what do they all have in common, which makes them all ideal classrooms?

The people in them. The students and the teachers. They are what make classrooms special, and ideal, and amazing.

It is the Human Touch in them.

In March 2014, I gave my very first plenary talk at the TESOL Macedonia-Thrace Northern Greece Convention. I thought that this topic would be the one for me to talk about – and I hope that the teachers who would come to listen would connect with it. I shared my own story and the difficulties I faced during my first years in Switzerland. I found other teachers I had met online or face-to-face, who each represented a specific story and I included them in the plenary talk. The teachers in the talk found themselves in these stories, and I found myself in theirs.

Then I did the same plenary for RSCON5 and the opening keynote for the iTDi Summer School MOOC. More teachers, more students, more amazing stories to share! That is why I always say: every person, every student and teacher, has their own story. No one has had it easy at some point or another, and we need to be there for each other. We are there for each other, to help and motivate one another, and that is what makes education beautiful, in addition to all the learning that takes place.

This is the beginning of a series of stories, by you, the teachers and the students.

Watch this clip from the film The Freedom Writers, based upon the true story of educator Erin Gruwell and her students.


20 thoughts on “The Human Touch Series

  1. An inspiring keynote address at the #iTDi summer school. My classroom layout changed because of it. I saw the link between the home and the classroom. Learning does not stop when the student leaves the class and the student’s personal life does not vanish when he enters the classroom.

    1. Dear Dawood,

      Thank you so much for your wonderful comment. It is amazing how we can reach out to one another, sometimes without even having met in person! Keep up the excellent work!

      Best wishes,

    2. It’s so true, Dawood. Some of my students usually say that after my classes they come home and start talking to their relatives in English, or my young learners love teaching their moms.

      1. For sure, Vicky:) I like an activity where kids are “fitness instructors”, for example. They enjoy giving instructions to the other kids, like “stand up, turn around, wiggle your nose” . We have a lot of fun following these instructions:)

      2. That sounds like fun Anastasiia. Kids love to command. I believe they naturally enjoy anything which prepares them for the real life. I could just imagine them having a ball ordering their teacher around.

      3. Yes, kids love commanding. I used this activity with my one-to-one younger learner (he’s 6), and he enjoys giving commands to me, esp.when I use a lot of miming and make funny actions

  2. I love the title “The Human Touch”:) it’s associated with only a friendly atmosphere where everyone wants to help each other, either it’s a teacher, or students

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