Two Types of Social Media for Teachers to Grow

Aziz SoubaiTwo Types of Social Media for Teachers to Grow

Aziz Soubai


Social media has now become extremely important in the life of every individual, and especially teachers, educators, and supervisors. It is a source of entertainment, learning, and connecting with people worldwide. In this post you may be a little surprised or even shocked when you see my favourite social media platforms and how I use them in my personal and professional life. I’m going to focus on two main platforms; one is full of distractions and can even lead to a serious addiction if not properly managed, while the other is quiet and purely professional.

Making the most of Facebook

I joined Facebook exactly on 15th November, 2012. Back then I was lost in the sea of different types of information that made up my Facebook feed at the time, which was mostly unrelated to what I did as a teacher or a language learner. I was trying to find a way to get out of the mess. My vision was blurred and I wasted a lot of time and energy on subjects and topics of zero quality and no benefit whatsoever. That was when I decided to create another account where I would only add people related to education and teaching foreign languages, especially English. I followed various ELT pages and joined closed and open groups like the iTDi page, Arizona State University, and Coursera mentors. After I did all that, my feed became a little cleaner and clearer; I now see only the things I’m interested in.

Improving your academic visibility

The next step was to find a way to increase my academic visibility and online presence, and I can say that Facebook is perfect for that purpose. The way to achieve this goal is quite simple. First of all, as a teacher and an educator I try to select and share what I do with my friends. I love writing, it is a huge passion of mine. So, most of the time I share my thoughts, articles, and poetry with my Facebook audience and followers. I also mainly focus on sharing what is related to my classroom practice. For example, after publishing an e-book on how to use grammar games for better language instruction, I received many comments, reactions and support from English teachers.

The second step to improve your academic visibility is to post what you do in your professional life as a teacher. Give reports on the different conferences you attend or the workshops and presentations you conduct. Documenting your experience on social media is of huge importance in our context. You can post pictures, share information about the event, links and your personal takeaways. I’m a huge fan of online learning and I think it is a great idea to let your online audience and friends know about the training or online learning experience you’ve gone through by sharing your achievements, digital certificates or badges. This is not done out of intellectual snobbery or in order to show off, but rather to grow as a language teacher and have a nice online presence. In fact, sometimes institutions and organizations may ask individuals to provide their Facebook account information to see their activity for potential job offers or scholarships.

Zero distractions on Edmodo

The other social media platform I want to talk about is truly amazing. It hosts teachers, administrative staff, and parents from around the world and lets you connect with your students by creating classes and groups entirely protected by codes. I’m talking about Edmodo. This platform allows you to do practically anything you want as a teacher. You can easily create free classes and invite students to join by a special code or through their emails. You can differentiate instruction by further creating smaller groups, which can be useful for learners who have particular language problems. Another amazing feature is called “badges”. The purpose of badges is to motivate students and make them use the system more frequently. Additionally, there is a possibility to connect and collaborate with teachers from other schools either locally or internationally.

Edmodo offers three types of accounts: for teachers, educators, supervisors, and administrators; for students and learners in general; and for parents. As it is a professional social network, there are zero distractions on Edmodo, so you can work at your own pace. You can join various professional development groups, but even then you won’t receive as many unnecessary notifications as on other platforms. In those groups, you can ask questions, offer suggestions or tips, and be sure you will receive helpful comments and answers from your online colleagues.

Considerations when choosing social media

Time is precious and social media may be consuming a lot of our time. It is crucial to select the type of social media you want to use in your own personal and professional life. It is also essential to see what is the added value or impact of this tool on you as a teacher. Does it make you grow? What do you learn from it? Do you have a particular professional learning network? If you reflect on these questions and make them guide you in your choices, you will absolutely spend less time online and use the tools that work for you, not against you.


Three major pandemic lessons

Aziz SoubaiThree major pandemic lessons

Aziz Soubai


COVID-19 has impacted the world in many negative ways. Because of the pandemic we live in stressful times; airports have been closed and there is a lot of social distancing. Some schools are still closed and there are extra duties waiting teachers and educators. But, in this post I’m not going to talk about the virus; I’m not a scientist. I will, however, share three very positive lessons I have learned from this situation.

Interaction is priceless

Let’s begin with the first one. Teachers are irreplaceable. Companies raced against time to design and develop learning management systems and applications, and create or update teaching and learning websites. Many materials and resources are now shared daily online to help students continue education or offer them some kind of remedial work. “The tech world’s quickness to react to the pandemic may not be surprising because they were best positioned to make the shift to a more digital world and to benefit from the new status quo.”

These amazing digital tools and devices are doing a great job to improve knowledge retention, improve engagement, and develop 21st century skills. However, face-to-face teaching and interaction is priceless. No matter how sophisticated  technology becomes, it can’t equal the real presence of the teacher in an actual classroom.

Collaboration has power

The second point has to do with the power of collaboration. Many schools around the world were shut down because of the pandemic. This was an opportunity for teachers and educators to think of tools or platforms to allow them to stay connected with their learners and with colleagues for continuing professional development. I created Everyone Academy to encourage online collaboration among individuals (teachers, educators, university students, researchers), develop a sense of community, and provide equal chances for everyone to have access to education. The first webinar was with iTDi Faculty, Dr. Stephen Krashen, and then we conducted series of webinars with speakers from different countries like USA, Canada, Japan , Malaysia and Argentina.

I realized that we as educators need each other more than ever and we are only strong and better when we are together. Maybe this will sound like a cliché, but this is the new reality. This also means we need to maximize online and offline collaboration, share more resources, exchange experiences and most of all, train teachers to use educational technology tools.

Focus on what works best for you and your students

The third and final point is related to online or virtual education.  During these stressful times, we had the chance to see many technological tools, and webinars on how to use or integrate these tools in the classroom.  Technology is not reliable all the time, but it is essential for us to learn how to use it effectively. The lesson that I learned is that as teachers we should not try to focus on every technology tool and LMS.  You won’t have the time or energy for that and it will be useless. Here is my tip: try directing your attention and effort to one favourite tool that you think might suit your teaching context and the kind of learners you have. For example, I use Edmodo, and every day I learn new ways to integrate it into my classroom practice. I also train my students to navigate the application, ask questions and submit assignments.

I will conclude by saying that there are so many ways teachers can change the world for the better. One of these ways is continuous online collaboration.  This crisis has shown the huge importance of teacher-teacher relationships. This will in turn improve and strengthen teacher-student relationships, because when we meet and share our classroom challenges we grow and become more creative and innovative. Two heads are always better than one.

Teaching English in Morocco: Through My Lens

Aziz SoubaiTeaching English in Morocco: Through My Lens

by Aziz Soubai


As an English teacher with some classroom experience, I assume that most English teachers I meet either online or in regional and national conferences are extremely enthusiastic about their profession. They invest a lot of time and effort not only in the teaching itself, but also in other areas and activities, such as theatre, acting, and public speaking. In this post I’m going to share with you some reflections and ideas on what it is like to teach English in my country that I have gathered from my own modest experience. I will try to shed some light on the major challenges that EFL teachers and learners might face in the language classroom in my country and what kind of techniques or strategies an English teacher like me can use to achieve the lesson objectives more effectively.

Limited exposure to English

First of all, it is worth mentioning that English in Morocco is taught as a foreign language. This means that learners don’t get exposed to English outside the classrooms, except for some highly motivated students (like this awesome little girl in the video). This also means that less exposure to English creates more burdens to the teacher, simply because learners are detached from the language once they are outside the classroom (and sometimes even inside the classroom, which is a worse case). To address this issue I would recommend teachers to encourage their learners to watch American cartoons like “Martha speaks” or “Family guy” with subtitles, or listen to slow tempo songs while following the lyrics. Of course, YouTube is easily full of these learning materials. The teacher’s job is then to assign these activities as homework, which would be an interesting and fun alternative to the regular boring “page number n” kind of homework.

Demotivated learners

It often happens that students who we label as low achievers detach themselves from English and then have a negative image about themselves as language learners. They lack confidence and persistence and have a very high psychological filter that blocks language production. They become self-conscious and often disrupt other learners in class to get some form of attention. The teacher in this case has to adopt some form of differentiated instruction.

Let’s imagine for a second that you would like to teach your class difficult grammar items (like the passive voice) or ask students to read a particular passage and answer comprehension questions. The teacher in this situation might feel baffled because he or she has to do so many tasks to help all learners to get this particular grammar point or understand the reading passage. It is part of the teacher’s job in this case to explain, for example, very simple vocabulary or the difference between “do” and “watch” to those learners who lack some basic language skills and require remedial teaching. In this regard, I can say that classroom presentations are my favourite strategy. At the end of every unit (which is normally composed of six lessons), I ask those struggling students to prepare a PowerPoint presentation about a particular lesson. That helps the students to regain their confidence and get more engaged in the learning process.

As I advanced in the teaching profession, I learned more ways to effectively engage and manage learners, as well as sustain their interest. One of these ways is having students create their learning portfolios, which is also a great tool for effective English instruction and assessment. I ask students to divide their portfolio into sections, such as “tongue twisters,” “writing drafts,” “what I learned today,” etc. (you can see samples of my students’ portfolios on this page). I also learned to integrate project based learning into my classroom practices. Students love working together and they often come up with creative ideas. We recently moved a little bit further by creating links with local and international schools to collaborate on different topics, such as environment, food, and culture. The collaboration between schools happened mainly on such Learning Management Systems as Edmodo, which offers a safe learning environment. I believe that project work is extremely beneficial for EFL learners because it gives them a chance to practise nearly all language skills and sub-skills like reading, writing, listening, and pronunciation.

Large classes

Overcrowded classes present another huge challenge that teachers in some regions of Morocco might face, particularly novice teachers. I still remember my very first years in a classroom with 40 students… They were all talking at the same time, laughing, and moving in all directions. It is a really nerve-racking situation. There are two techniques I use in this kind of situations. I first salute the students and try to calm them one by one by checking their lessons and homework until the job is done (this step takes from 10 to 12 minutes). Then I do a quick review of the previous lesson to get their attention, but sometimes I don’t succeed and they slowly get back to the endless talking. I know that noise can be normal in a language classroom, but this type of noise can be really annoying. Additionally, they say that “silence is the sound of thinking,” so I always try to keep things balanced: allow for some noise especially during group work, but don’t tolerate it when I’m giving particular instructions or explaining an important point.

I want to conclude by saying that English is a beautiful language with a natural musicality, rhyme, and rhythm. That’s why teachers here enjoy teaching it despite the aforesaid challenges. They help their learners master the language by creating English clubs. They encourage their students to get involved in local and national competitions, like spelling bee and students talent shows. By helping struggling learners, teachers rethink their own classroom practices and engage in continuous professional development.


The Three Teachers

Aziz SoubaiThe Three Teachers

by Aziz Soubai.


I can talk about the teachers who influenced my life until the cows come home. There are so many teachers who shaped my personality, the way I think and see the world, and they all deserve paying tribute to. However, I would like to focus on the three teachers, each one of whom represents a particular phase in my personal and professional life. 

When I was in the 5th grade (11 or 12 years old), I was taught by a very tough and compassionate teacher (I will later explain why I use this apparently weird combination of adjectives to describe him). At that time I was hard-working and paid a lot of attention in class. I was actually among the three top students. At this very young age, we were all in awe of this great teacher. Why? Simply because he put an incredible amount of effort into explaining the material. I wonder now if he had ever experienced some kind of burnout. It was clear that he was obviously in love with the profession, he loved teaching. This love made him unstoppable. At first we couldn’t keep up with his huge enthusiasm to teach and engage us in the process, but later on, we (or let’s say some of us) loved his personality and methodology. Those who couldn’t keep up were having problems at first and then they changed their style and became good students. At the end of semester and school year, we organized a school party and discovered the other, hidden part of our teacher’s character – he could be, in fact, very sweet. For instance, he shared some stories about his personal life and sometimes jokes and this made us giggle a little, but with total respect. At that time we began to understand that this seemingly strict attitude was just his expression of tough love. 

I have a mix of bitter and sweet memories of my high school years. At that troublesome time, during that adolescent boredom, especially in the first year, my motivation level hits the bottom. I turned from a hard-working, studious learner into a little troublemaker and this, of course, affected my grades, particularly in English and Arabic. I managed to move on to the next level because I successfully prepared for other exams. And that was when my story with the second teacher began. I was not a science major in high school, but the funny thing is, I became extremely passionate about natural science because of the teacher. This teacher was not only passionate but also exceptionally knowledgeable. He had a unique, soothing voice. He brought in extra information and stories and could always find a way to incorporate them into his teaching materials, which made the whole process interesting and beautiful. Some of his natural science lessons are still stuck in my memory to this day. More importantly, this unique teacher had zero classroom issues, even though those very students were uncontrollable and behaved in all sorts of ways in other school subjects. 

University teachers had a tremendous effect on me and the kind of language I speak and write. I loved to learn foreign languages from a very young age, especially English and French. I was addicted to American shows and series, picking up so many words and idiomatic expressions particularly from Oprah, Dr.Phil, and Friends. I had a huge passion for English literature and poetry, and that passion increased to a great extent in the fourth year at university, when I was taught by another awesome teacher. He used to read poetry aloud in class, chanting beautifully with rhymes and rhythm.  

Five miles meandering with a mazy motion  

Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,  

Then reached the caverns measureless to man…  

These lines from the poem Kubla Khan” by S.T. Coleridge are  still carved in my memory. They were like soft music to my ear. This way of teaching made me eager to read and enjoy more long pieces of poetry, like T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land. Bottomline is, not only the teaching techniques or strategies the teacher used left an impact, but also his ardent passion for teaching, which was contagious. Research shows that “the best teachers are passionate about teaching. They are intensely curious about the world and love learning new things. They are also driven by a deep desire to teach and help others. These teachers give their heart and soul to their work, and to the students they teach.”    

I believe that touching people’s lives and making them better citizens and individuals should be the ultimate purpose of education and teaching. It is not about how much technology you incorporate in the lessons or how many visual aids and colors you use in your class. Instead, it is about how much energy, enthusiasm, and passion you have for this tough profession. It is about how you turn a very lazy, unmotivated learner into a creative one. My final message is, love your job or change it. Otherwise, you will continuously suffer on a personal and professional level because you expect others to love what you don’t love. And this is the very definition of doublethink. 


Autism Changed Our Perspectives

Aziz SoubaiAutism Changed Our Perspectives

by Aziz Soubai.


When you give your students some space and time to do whatever they want, amazing things happen. I don’t force them to do something they don’t like in my classes. Instead, I suggest topics, look at their reactions, and take their comments into consideration. That’s exactly how my students and I ended up getting involved in the project that I’m going to talk about.

Raising awareness about autism was the main purpose of the activity that my students and students from Al Hadi High school in Lebanon collaborated on and that I would like to talk about in this post. My students worked closely with the Lebanese autistic students and they learned a lot from them. It’s worth mentioning that parents and the whole community were involved in this project as well.

The project was part of the global Connecting Classrooms programme that brought together some schools in and outside Morocco, including mine. On the Schools Online website there are samples of projects, types of school partnerships, and samples of themes a teacher can use to collaborate with other schools. For my students, I chose to focus on autism because there exist a lot of misconceptions about it.

While participating in this project, I found out that students have a lot of potential and become extremely motivated if they are working and learning in an anxiety-free atmosphere. My students had creative ideas and were engaged while learning with their international peers, which showed to me the huge importance of project-based learning and its impact on the learners.

The activity itself was essentially a celebration of the World Autism Awareness Day, April 2nd. Our schools collaborated to help increase students’ awareness of this condition by exchanging questionnaires with the partner school to collect information regarding autism or any other similar conditions. The science teachers were also involved providing some support to us in the process. In fact, involving other teachers in such projects is crucial because of their cross-curricular nature. Students then brainstormed ideas on how to create attractive posters, drawings, or paintings, which were later exchanged for comments and feedback.

The next step was creating a Facebook group and a Facebook page where the posters were shared to show support for people suffering from this condition around the world. The ongoing purpose of the group and the page is to keep the interaction between the two schools alive and to make people change the way they look at this condition.

As part of the process, we also watched an amazing movie about Temple Grandin, telling the inspiring life story of the American professor of animal science and famous autism spokesperson. One of the things that students learned from this movie is that being different doesn’t mean something negative. The movie helped to change stereotypes about autistic people and treat them as human beings. Adding the movie to the list of activities was suggested by the Lebanese partner and it was an important step as schools from both sides had a great learning experience from it.

At the end of the project, the teams from the two schools exchanged certificates of thanks and appreciation. After taking pictures and writing detailed reports about the different stages of the activity, we managed to document the whole process into a portfolio of evidence. The main objective of the portfolio is to record the international work for assessment and evaluation by the Connecting Classroom ambassadors. The document also contained many types of evaluation sheets: for teachers and parents, for students (to write what was good about the activity and how it could be improved), as well as for visitors who might include colleagues from other schools or community leaders and activists.

To conclude, participating in this project was a tremendous eye-opener for me personally, for the students, and for the whole school. Society always regards autistic individuals as inferior creatures who lack social skills, and I hope that this project changed that view a little bit and our students became aware that autistic people can be creative, funny, social, and extremely intelligent.

I think sometimes parents and teachers fail to stretch kids. My mother had a very good sense of how to stretch me just slightly outside my comfort zone.”  (Temple Grandin)