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

Archive for the ‘blog’ Category

Christmas homework for teachers (guest post)

Following on from Katie Lindley’s Christmas homework for students last year, Charlotte Giller was inspired to create some relaxing Christmas homework for teachers to do. 

If you are a teacher who finds it hard to even occasionally put yourself first, you might like to consider that our well-being impacts directly on our learners’ achievements. As Sarah Mercer observed in her insightful webinar for the IH Wellbeing season earlier this year, happy teachers make for happy and successful learners. So take time these holidays to rest, relax and recharge and use the plan below to help you timetable this. If you struggle to do it for yourself, then you can do it for your students 🙂

Christmas homework for teachers 2018 (by Charlotte Giller)

Charlotte GillerCharlotte Giller is an English teacher and trainer based in Valencia, Spain.

Reference: “Language Teacher Psychology” Ed. Mercer, S. and Kostoulas, A (2018) Multilingual Matters

Bonus task: Self-talk and teacher confidence (ELT Playbook 1)

Here’s a bonus task to complement the ‘Teacher Health and Wellbeing’ section of ELT Playbook 1, a book I self-published this year which is designed to help early career teachers reflect on their teaching. Download the task as a pdf (Self-talk and teacher confidence), or read on…

Teacher health and wellbeing
Self-talk and teacher confidence

Task: 25 minutes
Reflection: 25 minutes

Make a list of things which you say to yourself about your teaching, for example ‘I can’t control this class’ or ‘That board race went really well’.

Categorise them into positive, negative and neutral.

  • ŸWhy do you think you say these things to yourself?
  • Would you say them to a friend?
  • Do you think your students or your colleagues would tell you the same things?
  • How often do you say them to yourself?
  • For those on the ‘positive’ list, how did you arrive at this point? How could other teachers do the same?
  • For those on the ‘negative’ list, what do you think are the roots of these issues? What effect do they have on your confidence? How can you diminish their effects?
  • What effect does your confidence have on your teaching?

Via your blog, share one of the positive things that you say to yourself. Describe how other teachers can reach the point where they can say this to themselves too. Use the #ELTplaybook hashtag on Twitter or facebook.

Record yourself talking about the effects of confidence on teaching. Refer to your own experience if you want to.

Draw a picture of what’s going on inside your head when you teach now. If you want it to change, draw a second picture of how you’d like it to look.

In your teaching journal, write about the roots of one of the negative things you say to yourself and how you could diminish the effects of it.

ELT Playbook 1 cover, showing title, a pale blue book, and the author's name (Sandy Millin) with a computer mouse coming out of the 'y'

If you want to continue reflecting on your teaching, why not get your own copy of ELT Playbook 1 from Amazon (ebook or paperback) or Smashwords (ebook)? [affiliate links] You can also find out more by looking at the ELT Playbook blog, where you can see examples of badges you can earn, as well as a sample task from the book.

Doctor Classroom

It’s been a long day. At least, long by the standards of my current job. I got to work at 10, and didn’t really stop until 9, even planning two lessons while I was eating at the local shopping centre this evening, because I know I won’t have time tomorrow. It’s the busiest time of year, with a new batch of teachers, timetables still in flux, lots of placement testing, one-to-one students waiting for timetables, constant questions, and the inevitable teething problems that go along with all that. Freshers’ flu is very much in evidence, with quite a few of the teachers suffering from all the new bugs we’ve been exposed to, and I’ve been hovering on the edge of a cold all week.

But despite all that, I feel great 🙂 I covered a late lesson this evening, hence the long day, and I feel like I spent the majority of it giggling. It’s a great group, who gel brilliantly and are very supportive of each other. They’re open to correction, and because they’re advanced, it’s possible to have some in-depth conversations about language with them. They regularly made me laugh, and I forgot about the cares of the rest of the day. The injection of teaching was just what I needed 🙂

Coursebook review questions

Following my recent post about coursebooks, Ian Parr asked on Twitter if a site existed for teachers to write reviews of coursebooks. As far as I know, there isn’t one, but I think it would be great idea, as at the moment I think the only way I know about which coursebooks to use are from publishers’ reps and word of mouth. I don’t think I’ll be setting such a site up any time soon, but if I did, these are the questions I would like people to answer about the coursebook they are using and the context they’re using it in:

  • Which book and edition are you reviewing?
  • Which country are you in?
  • Is the group monolingual or multilingual? Which languages do they speak other than English?
  • Do your students have any literacy challenges in English or their other languages?
  • Is the book localised as far as you are aware, or is it an international edition?
  • What age(s) are you teaching?
  • Are your classes organised by level, age or some other criterion?
  • Approximately how many students are you working with in an average group with this book?
  • What kind of facilities do you have? For example are you using a whiteboard/blackboard/projector/IWB…?
  • How much teaching experience do you have a) in general; b) in this context; c) with this level/age group; d) with this book/series?
  • To the best of your knowledge, how much learning experience do your students have a) in general; b) in this context?; c) with this series? For example, how many years have they been learning English in a private language school?
  • How many lessons do your students have and how often? What percentage of the course do they use the coursebook for? How easy has it been to select material from the coursebook for your students? What has helped/hindered you to make these decisions?
  • How long is your average lesson? Do you feel having the coursebook helped reduce your planning time?
  • Who chose your coursebook? Were you involved in the decision? If yes, in what capacity? For example, did you teach test lessons?
  • What is the balance of skills and language in the book? Is there enough of both?
  • What kind of topics are included in the bokk? Are there any which your students found particularly engaging or boring?
  • Are the reading/listening texts at the right level of challenge?
  • Are speaking/writing tasks engaging and communicative?
  • Is new language introduced and practiced in context? Is the meaning clear? Are there enough examples of practice activities? How much support do your students need to understand beyond the help the get from the book?
  • How easy is it to adapt the coursebook to the needs of different students in your group? For example, are there extra activities you can give to students who need more help?
  • Is it easy to navigate the book? For example, how clearly labelled are references to grammar explanations in other places?
  • Does the audio use a range of voice types (gender, age, accent, nationality, etc)? Is there a range of text types? How closely do the extracts reflect authentic use of English?
  • Are images included to support the students? Or are they just used as decoration? How clear is the layout? for example, is there text on top of images anywhere?
  • Which extra components have you used? For example resource pack, workbook, CDs, tests? Did you feel they really suppemented the course or were they unnecessary?
  • If you used the teacher’s book, do you feel it helped?
  • Overall, what are the most challenging things you have found when using this coursebook? What are the most positive aspects of it?
  • Would you use this book again with the same group of students? What other contexts do you think it might work or not work in?

I know there are a lot of questions here and I would be surprised if anybody answered them all  but you never know. What would you add to the list?

Coursebooks

Image taken by Sue Annan, from the ELTpics collection and shared under a Creative Commons 3.0 licence

Time out

A couple of hours of playing Chinese chequers (my set is almost exactly the same as this one!), chatting, and eating take-away pierogi – the perfect ending to the week.

What did you do to take time out this week?

Hampton Court Palace clock (24 hours on one face)

Classroom Management Techniques by Jim Scrivener (a review)

Classroom management techniques cover

This book is full of useful ideas covering a very wide range of classroom management issues. Every school should have a copy, not just language schools. It includes such useful areas as:

  • Avoiding chaos when rearranging the room
  • Being yourself
  • Finding the right voice tone
  • Helping the group to work together
  • Training students to listen to each other
  • Justifying pair and group work to students
  • Dealing with small disruptions
  • Starting lessons

It’s great for new teachers and more experienced ones, helping you to deal with problems you may have, or giving you new ideas you may not have thought of before. Every technique is broken down into clear steps, and they are often accompanied by diagrams or images to help you understand them.

I decided to read it from cover to cover, to give me an idea of the contents. Throughout, I kept thinking which teachers at my school would benefit from the different techniques or chapters. It also has a comprehensive contents page and index, meaning you can find whatever you’re looking for quickly and easily. Of course, I don’t think every idea would work in my classroom, but then, I’d be disappointed if I found a book where that was the case!

Why not get yourself a copy? [And if you use this link, I’ll get a few pennies too!] 🙂

IATEFL Glasgow 2017: The things I missed

Or at least, some of them! At a conference this size, it’s inevitable that you miss some sessions you really wanted to attend. In this post, I’ve collected individual tweets and video links to some of the presentations and events I found interesting, but which don’t fit easily into any of my other categories for posts this year.

A history of IATEFL

Richard Smith and Shelagh Rixon have written a book called A History of IATEFL, which is being sent out to all current members, and will soon be available to read online. There was a celebration evening on the Wednesday night of the conference which I couldn’t attend – by all accounts, it was fascinating. I’m really looking forward to reading the book once I get my copy.

Mike Hogan has this to say from the Business Special Interest Group Pre-Conference Event:

George Pickering summarises my job as a DoS at the Leadership and Management Special Interest Group Pre-Conference Event:

You can find out more about the Hands Up Project and get involved through Nick’s website.

I definitely feel like this applies to me – I was born in 1985, and just about remember life before the internet, so am pretty sure I can class myself as a Millennial. The longest I’ve stayed in any one job was three years (in Brno), I may still be in my current job in 2020 but I’m not 100% sure, and I’ll probably end up as a freelancer at some point.

Consistently including assessment and evaluation on my courses is definitely an area I need to develop.

I agree!

A talk I wish I’d been able to attend, as I think it would build on what I’ve learnt from Laura Patsko’s blog: Is CLT fair to introverts? and Conferencing for introverts

I find it interesting that ‘time management’ appears on the list as an element of ‘non-verbal communication’. I’d never thought of it like that, but I suppose it is.

I found Harry Kuchah-Kuchah’s plenary fascinating a couple of years ago, and wish I could have found out more about how their teacher association research has developed – I hope he writes about it elsewhere.

This could be useful after a conference (like now!) or a training course as a way to sum up what’s changed.

NWES looks like it could be helpful for thinking about future plans and developments at a school.

This AAA framework is one a lot of people could do with remembering! 🙂

Although this is about providing extra online practice, I think most of these criteria apply to any and all homework tasks.

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