I think project work is one of the most underused activity in English language teaching (and learning). And yet, I’m not really a fan of projects as we usually do them in ESL schools.
Across English language schools, curricula and course books, projects are generally used as an end of lesson or end of chapter activity. Like most of my peers, I have often skipped these projects in favor of more targeted language practice. If I look back over my years of teaching, I think I have probably done projects with cover classes more than in my own classes.
I’m sure you’ve heard of design thinking. I hadn’t, until a few months ago. I was probably living under a rock because once someone mentioned design thinking to me, I started seeing it everywhere. For the uninitiated, you can find some very academic definitions of design thinking here and here, or you can watch this video for a little taster.
One of the ways I understood it is through this video, in particular the following words:
Last year, my husband and I decided to take a sabbatical from work, savor our time together as a family of three before our son was born, and unwind after a few years in Saudi. But six months into our sabbatical, and just around the time our son entered the world, I was itching to get back in the classroom. Actually, and I think this may have been part of the reason we went to India for our sabbatical, I really wanted to train teachers in India.
I took this course on Inclusive Leadership on edX earlier this year and had so many thoughts about how to apply the learnings as a teacher and teacher trainer.
But first, I want to tell you a story. A teacher was once summoned by her manager. A summon is in itself fairly ominous but the manager started the discussion with a forced smile and casual chit-chat which convinced the teacher she was in trouble for ‘something’. She tried to stay calm and smile but in her head, she was feverishly running through the events of the last week, trying to figure out what she might have done, where she may have slipped, which student may have complained.
All she could think of was how she had walked into the school after a holiday and the receptionist had welcomed her with a huge smile and said, “Welcome back sweety! Your students missed you – I’ve had so many come and ask when you were coming back.” (more…)
“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” – William Shakespeare
My main takeaway from this lovely quote is that there is a potential for greatness in each one of us. And for the purposes of our context, we can tweak this quote to read…
Some are born great teachers, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.
I know for a fact that I delivered some shockingly abysmal teaching in the first few months after completing the CELTA. But then, most of us did. Did. Not anymore. 😉
I think the watershed moment in any teachers’ career is when they stop thinking about the quality of their teaching and assess lessons based on the quality of their students’ learning. All those utterly boring lesson aims (should) have one goal: students should come out the other end having learned something.
For the last three years, I worked at British Council Riyadh. For various reasons other than that we were in Saudi Arabia, those three years were fairly painful. The Council in Riyadh had a pitifully poorly trained management which made working for them like walking through sludge!
So when we decided to leave BC Riyadh, despite having fabulous offers in hand (and in Saigon – which we both absolutely love), my husband and I decided to take a break and recoup. We wanted to spend time with our baby as a family and watch her grow, and we wanted to grow as a couple. We wanted to write – both of us love to write beyond blogs and emails – those stories that were screaming to be told but are hard to put down into words while working full-time jobs. We wanted to spend time with family and friends in India and reconnect with them (me) and grow new bonds (the husband).
For years, I have regularly scouted EdX and Coursera for great courses I would love to take. (more…)
Skilled leaders and managers develop the knack of reading situations with various scenarios in mind and of forging actions that seem appropriate to the understandings thus obtained. They have a capacity to remain open and flexible, suspending immediate judgments whenever possible, until a more comprehensive view of the situation emerges.