Image made using a photo taken from http://flickr.com/eltpics by Roseli Serra, used under a CC Attribution Non-Commercial license, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/
This has to be one of the hardest posts I have ever written. It isn’t that I struggled with the subject matter or that I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but it was the execution of the idea that was so difficult. Let me backtrack a bit.
This post is a “summary” (it’s actually a bit long) of an #ELTChat completed way back in October on the subject of writing in the language classroom. During the chat, I had this “great” idea that I would volunteer to do the summary, but I wanted to do it in a story format. We had discussed during the chat that it is important that teachers model what we want our students to do and since I don’t often teach classes on story writing, I thought it would be good for me to do something as practice. I also thought it would be fun to rethink the twitter chat as if we were actually meeting together in person. That got me thinking about the personalities of each participant, the place, and even the atmosphere in which we engaged in our discussion. I envisioned us sitting together in an exotic location, sitting in a coffee shop, having a few laughs and even some short disagreements, but in the end, a really fun night out. To be honest, I haven’t met any of these people in person, so I took some artistic license with describing them and their characteristics.
What I wasn’t prepared for was how long this would take for me to do. Going over a transcript and trying to suss out the key points without leaving anyone out is a tricky task. The discussion goes in so many directions and it isn’t always easy to try to figure out who was talking or responding to what. In the end, I tried my best, but I may have left out some important points. All in all, I hope you enjoy it and learn from it as well. In the spirit of the discussion, feel free to add your feedback in the comment section below. Just don’t leave any red marks. I don’t like them.
One last thing, the style of writing with the quotes done they way they are comes from one of my favourite books, Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton. I loved the way he did the dialogue in the story and I tried to copy it a bit, albeit somewhat poorly. I enjoyed how he made it feel like you weren’t always knowing exactly who was saying what, making the story a bit different each time you read it. I hope you can appreciate it in this context. Continue reading Meeting
Image courtesy of davidd
When I was in grade eleven, I took a foods class as an elective. Most students took a language elective, but due to a long story involving a move from one part of Canada to another and a teacher who really hated me (I need to tell this story in more detail some time), I ended up dropping French in grade nine. So, here I was one of the only guys in a class of about 20 girls taking cooking and nutrition. Needless to say, it was a great choice. I actually learned a lot from that class including a pretty solid understanding of nutrition and diet. At that time, the Rotation Diet and Scarsdale diet were in vogue as a way of losing weight and we took the time to talk about fad diets and the dangers behind them. What my teacher stressed was that there was no magic bullet to losing weight and staying healthy. Eating balanced meals and exercising regularly were probably the best thing you could do to being and staying healthy.
No, I am not changing professions to become a food economics teacher, but what I do what to address is the need to find that ‘lighting in a jar’ form of teaching that will make learning so much better for your students and so much easier for the instructor. Throughout the years, methods and approaches have come and gone with varied success, but what sustains learning is something altogether different. Continue reading Dieting
Image courtesy of Enokson
In a recent staff meeting at my school, the director made a remark about the photocopy usage going sky high in recent months. It isn’t entirely clear why that is, but it does demonstrate the dependance many teachers still have with printed material. What is copied can vary from teacher to teacher, but the mainstay for many instructors is the worksheet. Continue reading Photocopying
Image courtesy of Ben Grey
I grew up in a small town in Canada before moving to the ‘big city’ of Calgary when I was 14. One major difference I noticed right away was the disparity between the haves and have nots. Sure, there was rich and poor in the town I had grown up in, but I don’t remember seeing it displayed in such a noticeable way as I did in Calgary.
For the most part, my parents never made any remarks about a person’s wealth, but there was this one friend of my parents who had a lot of money and owned property in various places including a cabin in Montana. She drove a nice car, but nothing flashy. She didn’t act rich, but she certainly was. One day, she was over at our place and the topic of skiing came up. She mentioned that she had this place in Montana and that she was more than happy to have people stay there for free any time we wanted. It wasn’t one of those ‘I’ll make the offer so that I can show you how much money I have’ type of statements, it was a genuine ‘what’s mine is yours’ sort of thing. After she left, my parents remarked that it wasn’t good or bad to be rich, it is what you do with what you have that makes the difference.
Another story comes from an offbeat British fellow named Jamie McDonald who is currently running across Canada to raise money for various hospitals for sick children. He doesn’t have a support team or even a real plan other than to get across Canada before his visa runs out! He is a genuinely nice guy who would give someone the shirt off his back if need be. Don’t take my word for it, read his posts on Twitter and Facebook and you will see that he doesn’t have much, but he is giving all that he can to help others.
I am starting to realize how important it is that we share with others what we have in terms of our experience and expertise. Continue reading Sharing
Image courtesy of Trevor Leyenhorst
One of my favourite television shows when I was a kid was a program by James Burke called Connections. For those of you who don’t know the series, it was a documentary style show that showed how one item could lead to a completely different thing through a series of ‘connections’. The show attempted to show how one item relied on a series of things happening in order for it to occur.
During my MA TESOL program, I was required to read and interact with the book Language Teaching Awareness: A Guide to Exploring Beliefs and Practices by Jerry G. Gebhard and Robert Oprandy (1999). In this book, the authors explore various ways in which teachers can become more aware of the way they approach their teaching. The process of reading and journalling about what I was learning was quite eye-opening. I became a more reflective teacher as a result and that has continued through the use of this blog and through other means.
In chapter seven of this book, Oprandy talks about ways in which we can reflect on the connections we make between our personal life and our teaching. He does this through a series of connecting questions that he wrote for himself. He encourages teachers to take time to write their own questions based on what they are experiencing. For the sake of this post, I have decided to summarize the responses to his own questions and then attempt to answer those same questions for myself. Here are his results: Continue reading Connecting