Educators are humans too and our profession has a lot of happy moments, but can be stressful at times as well, be it because we have to grade, mark, prepare, or we are not feeling physically well, or have some kind of personal problem.
Leave it behind – it is not good to carry it into the classroom. It is not good for the students first of all, for you, the educator, or for the lesson.
Whenever I have a problem, I feel much better once I step into the classroom and see my students – when I come out again, the problem might still be there, but then I can see it with different eyes…or even find the solution more easily! And the important thing is to stop doing what stresses you at the time you feel it is pressuring. Talk to someone on Skype, chat on Twitter and Facebook with a person you love or appreciate or listen to some music. Then you can get back to what you were doing in a different mood.
I tried to do my post as an audio recording this time. I hope you enjoy it!
I will start like this: when I left Greece to come to Switzerland, I kept contact with a great number of my students, as we had become very attached and it is always great to hear their news and how they are doing and growing, as people and personalities.
The other day I was talking to one of them. He is 16 years old and a wonderful person in all respects: kind, considerate and a great student. By great student I mean (and I have admired him for this ever since I first met him, when he was eight!) that he tries very hard in everything that he does and tries to apply the things he learns in his life. He loves learning.
As I was saying, I was chatting with him on Skype and it was great to read all his news. At some point he expressed his disappointment, as that day he had written a test in Physics and, even though he had studied and tried really hard (as can happen to anyone), he did not perform as well as he had expected. Anyone would feel disappointed, as the only thing one can think at that moment is I put in so much effort in it. It is not like that though. (And fortunately he is a person who will keep on doing his best – he is very motivated by learning.)
Does it matter that he did not perform well? No.
Is his life or future going to be defined by that grade? No.
Is he still learning and progressing in his learning? Yes!
That is what sometimes we educators do not point out to our kids. We are responsible to a great extent for this. That learning is for them, it is something great and that no matter how old they get, they will keep on learning something, be it at school, college, home, anywhere. The grade of course can feel as a reward for their efforts but it is only something momentary. If we constantly remind them that the beauty is in learning and they can only benefit from it, then both them and we have achieved our goal. If we remind them that they are great and should always try their best, because each child has their own skills and abilities, they will.
And be a model for their learning. Show them at specific instances that you too are learning alongside them.
I have not mentioned his name but I have still asked him for permission in order to use his example in my post. And I thank him very much for that! And for everything he has taught me all these years! I am very proud of you and you know who you are ; )
The first time I met her and heard Ania‘s work was at TESOL France, where she had a workshop on using drama in the classroom. All of us who were there absolutely loved her tips. When I asked her to write a guest post for the blog, I was absolutely delighted because I love her enthusiasm and the kind of educator she is. I was also happy she chose one of my favourite topics – poetry! She informed me that this was her second guest post. Her first one, I found out later, was for another person I admire a lot- Ken Wilson. You can read Ania’s post for Ken’s blog here.
Ania, thank you so much for your workshop and your post!
Why do we have to read this? „Sigh”
Is it really necessary? „Sigh”
But it sucks….. (A series of „sighs” here)
Those are the comments I heard from my advanced teenaged students when I asked them to read a play by the Bard himself. As a lover of Shakespeare’s work (and a huge literature freak in general) I was determined to make the lesson work by all means. So I decided to put a twist on it and … loosen up a bit.
The first step was to show the students that Shakespeare really did write about timeless topics – and what is more interesting to a bunch of 18-year olds than some love stories? And to add a modern flavour to the lessson I introduced a contemporary poem too. And so the time for the lesson came. They knew to expect something different as I asked them to leave the coursebooks at home. They were a bit anxious anticipating a test or something worse;) They were not that relieved to learn that we were doing poetry…
The reading I chose was an excerpt from Romeo and Juliet and Benjamin Zephaniah’s poem Serious Luv. But first I presented them with a picture from Baz Luhrmann’s film Romeo and Juliet and just the title of Zephaniah’s poem and asked them topredict the content of the texts. That was supposed to focus my students on the theme and give the purpose of reading.
That grabbed their attention and they came up with topics such as puppy love, fancy dress party, unrequited love, angels and demons (!) or tragedy. Now it was time to check their predictions about the texts and start reading. I also set a couple of activities to help themunderstand the text and make it more user-friendly.
Benjamin Zephaniah (from Funky Chickens)
I really luv the girl that’s sitting next to me
I think she thinks like me an she’s so cool,
I think that we could live for ever happily
I want to marry her when I leave school
She’s the only one in school allowed to call me Ben
When she does Maths I luv the way she chews her pen,
When we are doing Art she’s so artistic
In Biology she makes my heart beat so quick.
When we do Geography I go to paradise
She’s helped me draw a map of Borneo twice!
Today she’s going to help me take my books home
So I am going to propose to her when we’re alone.
The next day
I used to luv the girl that’s sitting next to me
But yesterday it all came to an end,
She said that I should take love more seriously
An now I think I really luv her friend.
William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet
It is my lady. O, it is my love!
O that she knew she were!
O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name.
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.
Romeo, doff thy name,
And for thy name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.
I take thee at thy word!
Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptized.
Henceforth I never will be Romeo.
e.g. baptised (adj)
I’ll be new baptised.
baptism (noun)baptise (verb)
To make them more “at ease” with the text we did a group miming activity. While I was reading the text aloud ,my group acted it out silently walking around me. The use of mime and movement helped my students concentrate on gesture, facial expression and body language. It created an imaginary context and, for some, lifted the immediate pressure to speak.
Then it was time for some stimulating discussion and creative use of the language. I wasn’t familiar with the wonderful world of word clouds tools so my words sheet wasn’t as pretty as it is now. (Vicky’s comment: I apologise for not being able to insert Ania’s beautiful word cloud here.)
After distributing the word clouds (no projector in my classroom unfortunately) my students were asked to decide which of these words were relevant to the text and had to choose three and put them in order of importance. An animated discussion followed:)
The next activity concentrated on the the relationship between the main characters. We used cut out figures stuck with some tack on chopsticks. I asked my learners to represent the relationship of the key characters by arranging them close, far away from, next to, under or on top of each other. Of course they were happy to oblige and started comparing (and criticizing) the arrangements of others.
The lesson was a success and a lot of project works followed. As the group was preparing for CAE exams we did a lot of writing tasks (such as changing the verse into prose, as well as constructing a report and a letter) and at the end of the year – a short performance was put together. The poetry reading proved to be creative and fun and it helped my students build fluency not only in reading itself but also in writing and speaking.
I am very fortunate to present Elvira’s new post, which she was so kind to write and surprised me so pleasantly with! Thank you so much, Elle.
Elvira G. Deyamport, Ed.S. is a Language Teacher, currently teaching elementary Spanish, with a K-12 ESL endorsement – interested in Web 2.0 Tools and technology integration in teaching language.
Six years ago, I started my career as a second grade teacher. Three years later, I switched districts and positions and became an elementary Spanish teacher. The transition from regular education to foreign language instruction was a difficult one at first. During my first year as a language teacher, I was completing the final year of a federal grant for an FLES program. The activities I created and skills I assessed all centered on vocabulary acquisition. Most of my instruction was also done in English and reflected the English translation approach. I did not include opportunities for my students to practice using the language in context or use authentic materials.
At this point in my career I knew that I needed more professional development in teaching a foreign language. Therefore, I decided to pursue a doctoral degree in gifted education and as part of my electives, I decided to enroll in graduate language courses offered by the MATL program at The University of Southern Mississippi. These courses offered me a different perspective on language acquisition as well as proven methods I was able to use in my classroom.
Now I take a different approach to teaching a foreign language. Through authentic materials and thematic units, I am able to make learning more relevant for my students. Also, I make it a point to incorporate more speaking activities that allow my students to experience language in action. Reading and writing are also emphasized at all levels that I teach. Finally, I combine cultural components into each thematic unit so that students can experience the diversity among Spanish-speaking countries.
Since joining Twitter, I have come across innovative approaches to teaching. I follow a myriad of language teachers along with educational technology specialists who have opened my eyes to new learning experiences for my students. For years, I had been thinking of connecting with a classroom abroad, and with the help of my Twitter contacts, that dream became a reality this last school year. My students Skyped with schools in Argentina and Spain.
It is my great honour to present two wonderful educators on this blog, who have written a post on the topic of professional development: W. H. Deyamport, III, MSEd. and Elvira G. Deyamport, Ed.S. Will is a Social Media Evangelist and Family Life Educator, working on doctorate in Educational Leadership and Management. Elle is a Language Teacher, currently teaching elementary Spanish, with a K-12 ESL endorsement – interested in Web 2.0 Tools and technology integration in teaching language. Thank you very much, Will and Elle!
Professional development is a recurring issue among adult ESL instructors (CAELA, 2008). In the field of adult ESL instruction, many professionals have varying backgrounds in terms of certification and preparation. In fact, a majority of adult ESL instructors tend to have backgrounds in teaching K-12 learners and not adults (Smith & Gillespie, 2007). These disparities in preparation are problematic because adult ESL educators are not fully equipped with the knowledge of language learning theories and strategies that are appropriate for teaching a second language to adult learners. Although efforts are currently being made to professionalize the field of adult ESL instruction, providing professional development opportunities to this group of educators still remains a challenge (CAELA, 2008).
One solution that adult ESL educators have resorted to is the use of online tools for professional development purposes. Unlike online training or certification programs, some online tools are less expensive and at times, offered at no cost (CAELA, 2005). Also, online resources can offer opportunities for interaction, sharing, and presenting content in an asynchronous manner. This medium grants adult ESL professionals the flexibility to participate and interact with others around the world, at their own pace and on their own time. Some recommended online resources include online professional journals and newsletters, websites and online materials, online toolkits and handbooks, mini-modules or units, online list serve groups or discussions, and webspaces (CAELA, 2005). These sources are beneficial to adult ESL professionals because they provide information on effective strategies, issues, themes, content, skills, and support from others in the field.
Personally speaking, Twitter is one of the best Social Media tools for adult ESL instructors. With the ability to personalize who you follow as well as the ability to set up Follow Lists, being on Twitter is like attending several virtual conferences a day. It is truly amazing.
Another recommended site is www.esolcourses.com/ developed by Sue Lyon-Jones. This site provides free lessons and materials for teaching ESL to elementary, secondary, and post secondary learners. In addition, resources for varying levels such as beginning, intermediate, and advanced are available. Further, the site covers English for academic as well as professional purposes, which is reflected in the English for Work section. Overall, Ms. Lyon-Jones has done a great job at building a site suitable for ESL learners of all ages, levels, and needs.
In closing, we encourage adult ESL instructors in the U.S. to join the virtual world of professional development. In doing this, you will meet likeminded educators, share innovative practices, and develop global personal and professional relationships. The availability of online tools and communities take away the excuses from receiving quality professional development. It’s free, it’s accessible, and it’s adaptable to fit your professional needs. So, what are you waiting for?
CAELA. (2005, November). Online professional development for adult ESL educators.
Arlington, VA: Matthews-Aydinli, J., & Taylor, K.
CALEA. (2008, January). Adult ESL teacher credentialing and certification. Baltimore,
MD: Crandall, JoAnn, Ingersoll, Genesis, and Lopez, Jacqueline.
Thank you to the people who tagged me in their blogs, I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart. I give my heartfelt thanks to these great educators and I hope to meet all of you in person one day! (I have already started planning next year’s conference attendances. It will be great and I am looking forward to them.)
The ten blogs I chose to include here for different reasons are:
1. Ken Wilson (http://kenwilsonelt.wordpress.com) What can I say about Ken? It was the first blog I ever started reading and the one that inspired me to begin my own. On Ken’s blog you can learn, laugh, travel, listen to his wonderful songs and … have a great time! Ken is a great writer and narrator.
2. Jeremy Harmer (http://jeremyharmer.wordpress.com) About Jeremy? Great posts, with topics that are so original you think “Wow! How did he think of writing about that?” and it shows from all the great discussions that go on his blog.
3. Keith Ferrell (http://techhappy.wordpress.com) I am so lucky to have discovered Keith when I first started tweeting. Keith is a tech integration specialist in Singapore and the reason I admire him so much is that his website includes not only great websites, recommendations and carefully chosen videos and topics in general, but he is very much interested in internet safety for children, which he has a special page on his blog about.
4. Mark Andrews (http://markandrews.edublogs.org) Mark Andrews’s blog is simply amazing! It is like reading a literary book, history book and methodology book altogether – I have told him this, that every time I read his blog I feel like I am in university again! (A very happy period for me – I love learning!) Mark has an amazing gift to tie everything together in his own way; honestly, I wish I could write that way.
5. Marisa Constantinides (http://marisaconstantinides.edublogs.org) I will start by saying that I feel very lucky to have discovered this wonderful lady this year (to be in contact I mean, I knew her name since when I lived in Greece), but feel so unlucky to have never met her in person while in Greece. On Marisa’s blog you can read wonderful posts about various topics which are so important in ELT (I will never forget the one she wrote about companions.) Her great work is reflected in her blog and her Greek one as well. Marisa, thank you so much and…see you in Athens!
6. Sean Banville (http://seanbanville.com) I came across Sean’s blog at a very important time in my life, when I was going through a very hard period: one of his blog posts were about something I could relate to, moving to another country and all the difficulties that came with it. I admire Sean for everything he has written and for all the hard work he puts into his blog and websites, giving us ELT teachers ready-made material to use FOR FREE. Much obliged Sean and may you have every success with your great websites!
7. Arjana Blazic (http://traveloteacher.blogspot.com/index.html) This is definitely Arjana’s year! She is a multi-awarded teacher (and so is her school!) and she is also Glogster EDU Ambassador. Arjana’s devotion to teaching shows through her entire blog: her ideas are amazing and her enthusiasm contagious!
8. Anna Pires and her wonderful students from International House, Braga, Portugal (http://ihbraga-bookclub.blogspot.com/ I have very recently discovered this blog, but I am amazed at the excellent work the students and their teachers put in and the love of books going on in this blog! My warmest congratulations to Anna Pires (whom I greatly admire as a person and educator), the teachers and the students who write beautiful things about books they have read!
9. Barbara Hoskins-Sakamoto (http://www.teachingvillage.org/) Barbara has created this great blog in which she and may other educators around the world write posts about any topic under the sun of education. You can find a wide variety of topics and Barbara’s blog is a collection of wonderful pieces to read!
10. Jamie Keddie (http://www.jamiekeddie.com) One of my favourite blogs from day one! Jamie just keeps coming up with ideas of how to use images in the classroom. This blog is PACKED with ideas and I have used several of them. It is one of those blogs that you just keep on recommending to others! Thank you so much, Jamie!
Thank you to all of the aforementioned bloggers – those who tagged me and those included in the list – and thank you to all of those who I did not manage to mention here. A million thanks for helping me learn every day!
As an avid reader and as a teacher, I am very happy about the theme celebrated on April 23rd – books! It is so important to have a day like this, let alone for educators and students. There are so many ways to make this day memorable and promote reading at the same time.
If your school has a library, no matter how big or small (and if the school you teach at has not planned otherwise), try to organize a book celebration, or if it is possible, invite a writer or illustrator of a book to talk with the kids. The students can ask them any questions about a specific book or writing and can learn about the process of writing and publishing a book. After that, you can use all this material with them in class and do projects! It is good not to expect this day though for a visit to the library – it should be something done at least once every two weeks in my opinion. If the school does not have a library, organizing a trip to the public one is also a good idea.
A lot of publishing houses can give teachers writers’ addresses, where the children can send the letters they write them. After reading a specific book in class, kids can write to the same or different authors and then on International Book Day, you can organize a whole day around the answers they get.
Organizing book fairs is additionally a great idea. We did that every year at the school we had in Greece and the kids could come (so could their parents) and even buy the books they liked. It puts kids into the process of browsing through the titles, checking blurbs and choosing eventually which (or hopefully, ones!) they want. A book fair can be organized in collaboration with a publishing house directly or even through your local library.
Schools can even put on theatrical plays with the students, based on books. This can require a lot of work, as you may not find the adaptation of a book and you might have to do it on your own, but the results are excellent and the whole effort will surely be worth it. The kids will learn about the book and how a play or movie can be adapted from a book and so will the rest of the school!
Kids can make their own books on International Book Day. They can write the story (teachers can start that process even days before the big day), make the covers, the illustrations and then along with the teachers, bind their books and have them on display for the rest of the school to look through.
Some publishing houses are generous and donate books to schools. Should you manage as a teacher to strike such a good deal, you can put them in special gift bags and give them to the children!
The list of things to do on International Book Day is practically endless. If you have any other ideas, please feel free to recommend them.