13 for 2014 – Chuck Sandy

Chuck Sandy

13 Quotes For A Happy New Year
– Chuck Sandy


I’ve long been a collector of quotes, and ever since finding a copy of From The Margins of A Grey Notebook by the poet and archivist Eric Sackhiem, I’ve always meant to keep a notebook full to the margins with them, just like he did.

Doing that is one of my resolutions for this year. Meanwhile, as I’m also a fan of acrostics and in awe of Jeffery Doonan’s recent An Acrostic For Professionalism on the iTDi Blog, I thought I’d try to pull together quotes I’ve collected on scraps of paper and turn them into an acrostic of my own for A Happy New Year.

All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it”, wrote Antoine de Saint-Exupery in The Little Prince. He wasn’t, but very well could have been, writing to the teachers of young learners and all others, reminding them to remember what it’s like to learn in joyful ways and be full of awe about the world and its wonders. Think back. Take yourself there. Remember. Now, teach that way.


How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives says Annie Dillard, and I’m grateful that I’ve gotten to spend my entire life as a learner and my entire adult life as a teacher.  Now that I’m 55 with days no longer structured by class schedules and curricula, I realize even more how much each moment matters, how days add up, and then that’s it. How best to spend the days? It’s up to you to decide. Thank you for using this moment to read this post. When you finish, what will you do next, and why? What does it matter? What will you learn? How is that going to move you forward or enrich your now? Pause. Ponder. Do.


Always do what you are afraid to do, wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson in one of his essays, and though doing what scares us is never easy, it’s always worth doing. I tell myself this again and again. So often it’s fear that’s held me back from trying something new, making a change, taking a stand, and doing what’s right. But then, after leaping through a fear, I usually wind up amazed that I’ve neither fallen too far or too hard. When I have fallen far and hard, it’s been what I needed to do in order to stand up again in a new way. This year, take a risk. Step through fear. Leap.


Presence is far more intricate and rewarding an art than productivity wrote Maria Popova recently on Brainpickings on a day when I was offering a teacher advice on classroom management – a term I’ve never liked very much.  The Popova quote helped me see that the greatest teachers I’ve had or observed are the ones who are wholly present for their students. They have no classroom management problems because in the classroom they are entirely there. How do they do that? I’m sure you know teachers like this. Ask them. When I’ve asked, I’ve found most have a learnable strategy for becoming and staying present in the classroom. Find one of these teachers, model their strategies, and then adapt and make them your own.


People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don’t find myself saying, ‘Soften the orange a bit on the right hand corner.’ I don’t try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds, wrote the psychologist Carl Rodgers in On Becoming A Person, and as I read that again I thought, “well, of course” but then cringed remembering how often I’ve worked to change people in various ways, not understanding that I was actually working to change myself through them. Being a teacher means accepting others as they are, while offering up tools that can take them farther, then as Rogers says, stepping back to watch in awe as they unfold to become even more who they are.


Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes, writes Rumi and the poem goes on to say “If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralyzed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birds’ wings” and this is the best quote I know about the giving and receiving that is teaching and learning.


Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has” said Margaret Mead and when we define world as one person, one classroom, or one community, we begin to realize the power we have as teachers to make a difference – especially when we band together though initiatives like iTDi to encourage and support each other.


Everybody is a genius, said Albert Einstein “but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid,” so stop doing that. If it’s in you, take a stand against standardized testing. If you’re in the US, speak out about the Common Core. In every classroom, let people shine in the ways they do.


We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are” wrote Anais Nin which goes to explain how our view of the same classroom over time changes as we change. It’s good to remember that what we see is just a reflection of who we are.


You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go... wrote Dr. Suess, so just remember that.


Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books” wrote John Lubbock in a book that’s aptly titled The Pleasures Of Life and is available in digital form free. Just click the link, but before you do, go outside and have a look around.  See what you can see and learn what you can learn.


And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it wrote Roald Dahl in The Minpins, and this is an important thing to remember whether or not you’re a teacher, but especially if you are.


Remember that everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something and has lost something, says H. Jackson Brown Jr. in Life’s Little Instruction Book, and this is a good thing to remember whenever you wonder why the people in your classrooms and all around you act the way they do and do the things they do. It’s because they’re people, just like you.  My parents gave me Life’s Little Instruction Book one Christmas 30 years ago, and on that day I underlined this quote. Then, I put the book away and forgot about it.  I would have been a better teacher as well as a better person all these years if I’d done a better job of remembering this simple truth: everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something and has lost something.  Still, it’s not too late, is it? There’s a whole year ahead, still a lot to learn, and though those 13 add up to A Happy New Year, there’s a postscript:


PS: The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there writes L.P. Hartley in The Go Between. It’s like T.S. Elliot says in Little Gidding: For last year’s words belong to last year’s language, and next year’s words await another voice. If there’s any looking back, it’s in silent gratitude. A year’s end marks a moment in the ineffable journey thru eternity, and not yet fluent in the language, all we can do is breathe in & breathe out grateful thanks as we speed past, and renew our commitment to becoming more fluent in kindness, more patient in our learning, more gentle in our teaching, and more able to be a conduit of the light that is love.

Let’s do that.  I’ll be trying my wavery best.


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13 for 2014 – Josette LeBlanc

A Needs Assessment of 2013 – Josette LeBlanc

Josette LeBlanc

As language teachers, when you see the term “needs assessment” you might think of taking the time to learn more about your learners’ language needs. Kathleen Graves (2000) defines needs assessment as,

“…a systematic and ongoing process of gathering information about students’ needs and preferences, interpreting the information, and then making course decisions based on the interpretation in order to meet the needs.”

I’d like to propose a different type of needs assessment. It is more celebratory and reflective, than it is systematic and ongoing. This assessment involves looking back on your year and considering what universal needs you and your learners have fulfilled. My thought is that by doing this needs assessment, you might step into 2014’s classrooms with a bit more joy and gratitude in your heart. After having written this list of 13 met needs in 2013, I know that’s how I’m moving into the new year.

1. Rejuvenation

At the beginning of each semester of our teacher-training program, we always ask the teachers why they signed up for our course. The majority of them say it’s because they need a break. They need time away from all the demands of being an English teacher in Korea. They need time to remember what it means to be a teacher. They also need time to work on their English skills. In some cases, they just need time to remember who the are. As you read on, I think you’ll see how these teachers had their need for rejuvenation fulfilled.

2. Joy

In relation to remembering who they are, one of the teachers this semester shared her thoughts in one of her course reflections:

“I think, through this course, I can find different “myself” instead of “teacher myself.” (…) It may sound a little too much, but I think I am getting to know who I am and what I am capable of. Without this course and various activities, I could never know I can make the fancy storybook (see below). (…) Once again, I feel very lucky to have an opportunity to join this teachers’ training course.”

As you can imagine, reading this brought me great joy.

3. Accomplishment

This picture represents the culmination of 6 weeks of collaborative work done to create the storybook you see the teacher holding up on the right. This is a picture of them telling their story during the book release party. In addition to this group, five other teams not only shared their own storybooks, but also their sense of accomplishment.


4. Play!

Most teachers start off feeling worried about having to do practice teaching in front of their peers. They have to plan and teach lessons where their colleagues become their students. However, once the lesson is finally underway, it seems like all those worries melt away: it’s time to play! Let’s learn how to cook! What fun!

5. Autonomy

I usually give the teachers homework: read an article of your choosing, and report back by giving me your thoughts on parts of the reading that struck you. After a few weeks of this, one brave teacher told me she didn’t understand why she had to do homework she wasn’t interested in. I completely understood. I’ve always questioned homework, but kept up with it probably mostly due to old held beliefs. The next week I asked them to tell me what type of after class studies they would like to do. They had the choice to do what they wanted, or do nothing at all. I was impressed. Everyone chose tasks that met their unique needs and that also fit their schedule. I’ll definitely be trying this again.

6. Support

An important part of the writing curriculum that I’ve created for this program is the peer review component. When I first introduced it four years ago, I was apprehensive because I wasn’t sure how the teachers would feel about me taking a backseat. Anyone who grew up in the Korean education system is used to the teacher being front and center. However, each semester I ask the teachers how they feel about the peer review process. This year, the answer was the same: they said they got the support they needed to write the story/essay they really wanted. This is why peer reviews are still in the curriculum. My apprehension is subsiding.

7. Growth

It’s no secret that most Korean teachers of English use a form of the grammar translation method to teach their students. There are many reasons for this. However, these teachers also know it’s not the best way to help their students learn how to use the language. During our course they experience being learners and teachers. They get to feel what their students must feel, and they also have the chance to teach lessons based on methods beyond grammar translation. Our program is a place for experimentation and as a result, a lot of growth happens.

8. Collaboration

Can you see how this need has been fulfilled so far? J

9. Confidence

Confidence is one of the most important needs that I aim to fulfill during this course. Teachers often come with very low-self confidence and with deep-rooted beliefs that their English isn’t good enough. I can only imagine how hard it is to feel this way when you have to stand in front of class of 35 students everyday. Although they may not leave the course feeling 100%, through all the experiences I described above, I know the teachers who have left and are leaving this program are little more confident about their language and teaching skills.

10 & 11 Grieving and celebration

Before the end of last semester, my colleague had a fabulous idea to help the teachers look back the course and also look forward on how it would influence them. Thinking of what we had learned and experienced, we wrote a hope we had for ourselves, and attached it to a balloon filled with helium. Then we all headed outdoors. On the count of three, we let go of our balloons, letting our hopes find their own destination. Although we were celebrating our time together, and all the learning that we had done, there definitely was some grief. During this time we balanced our honor for grief and celebration.

12. Love

13. Community

Each teacher comes to the program from different schools in the area, alone and perhaps unsure. But when the program ends, they leave connected to a group that holds great friendship and knowledge.  They leave with memories of negotiations, compromise, reconciliations, experimentations, listening, laughter, and sharing. They leave with a community of learning.

I had to stop myself at 13. The needs assessment produced more results, but I’ll just have to save those for 2014. What about you? How long is your list? No matter how long it is, may it bring you joy. And may the new year bring you and your students great fulfillment.

Graves, Kathleen. Designing Language Courses: A Guide for Teachers. Boston: Thomson Heinle, 2000.


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13 for 2014 – Ann Loseva

13 Things I Heard or Read That Made a Difference / 13 Community Wisdoms  –   Ann Loseva

Ann Loseva

Before sitting down to write this post, I checked the post I wrote for this blog a year ago, on what I learnt in 2012. It is full of adjectives describing how I changed over the course of the year. I was entering 2013 aspiring to continue becoming a better me, without actually knowing how I would make that happen. Here’s the story of how it all turned out.

This year has been a very different year for me and brought some new realities to my eyes. What I’m struggling to express is the fact that I’ve become much more aware of the people around me and what they have to tell me. All I’ve learnt about myself and people, about life and making choices, about teaching and learning this year has become possible through the people in my community reaching out to share themselves with me. So I’m passing on these 13 lines of what struck me as wisdom throughout the year. These are sometimes direct quotes torn out of the contexts of online chats and real-time conversations, or words I caught and noted during the sessions I attended at conferences. There are two lines from my students, and one excerpt lifted from a magazine. My humble explanations—as well as a very amateur analysis—follow. The order of points that made a difference to me makes no difference in and of itself, and the numbers are I can say confidently, purely incidental.

1. Great minds think alike and fools seldom differ.

The phrase was intended to be a joke in a chat, or at most a piece of localised wisdom. However, it sank deep into my mind and I decided to share it with my students the next day. At first, the students had some difficulty translating it, and then some of them began to take it really seriously. They were gazing into the distance, or looking down into their notebooks, or staring right through me. I had merely wanted them to appreciate how beautifully the language worked in this particular case of seeming opposition. A bit of wisdom for me: students are trained to dig for something behind the words. Even if they cannot do it, they feel like they must try. So I probably should work harder on helping them notice the shape and beauty of the language right there in front of them.

2. What we hear and what others say is different.

This is taken from my Breaking Rules course notebook and may not be a direct quote, but it is highlighted. Such a simple truth and yet so powerful, like maybe all real wisdoms are. Originally it was used in regards to a lesson reflection process.  It was meant to remind me that transcribing a chunk of a lesson can prove revolutionary by allowing me to notice what a lesson actually is, and move beyond the prism of my own inward perceptions. I’ve done this type of transcribing only once, and it really was a revolution in seeing my own teaching and my students’ learning. The wisdom in this phrase speaks for itself.  I’d like to set it as a goal for the next year, a reminder to repeat the experience more than once, and ignite the flames of my personal revolution again.

3. Sorry of my gramar.

This grammar test was a revelation to me. This line on the bottom of the page, so sincere in its apology, bravely accepting (and embracing) inaccuracy, reaching out for a teacher’s help, struck me. I just want to be a better teacher for this student, and for others, who don’t leave this note on their grammar tests. A bite of wisdom says that it’s high time I did something more to teach grammar.

4. Don’t let the negative attitude influence you.

It doesn’t matter much which dialogue this phrase was part of, as it, in my opinion, can influence our whole view of life. As a person and especially as a teacher working in staff rooms of all kinds, it’s quintessential to keep this in mind if we want to live a happy life. And I do want to, so I walk out of my house each morning reminding myself that letting the negative effect me is a choice. Now I’m passing it over to you, hopeful that it will make a world of difference for you, too.

5. My lesson is not really only mine, students are also there, so they need to take responsibility as well.

As the year went on and my awareness grew, I realized that the ideas that resonate with my understanding of what’s right rub off on me with a longer lasting impact. They become the ideas that make me tick.  Such is the case with this piece of wisdom from one of the sessions I attended at iSTEK Conference. I strongly believe students should feel as if they are the rightful owners of their learning and bear responsibility for actions we take together in class. It’s not an easy process to make them feel this way.  But I have seen how a shift to this kind of attitude impacts the kinds of results students can see in their own learning process.

6. Have you made your students bored?

This is one of the two quotes on this list that come from plenaries I’ve been to this year. A lesson during which neither my students nor I get bored is the one ace lesson I aim for every day of my teaching. And thanks to this question and the answers explored in the plenary, I know that the human brain reacts to relevant content and to getting emotionally involved.  It’s nice to know that tapping into this responsible-for-pleasure part of the brain not only seems logical and right, but is backed up by science.  It felt good to have my vision of an ace lesson proven valid by neuroscientists and Herbert Puchta.

7. We’ve all understood that you have a perfect sense of humour. But we won’t be able to write this quiz in 13 minutes.

Oftentimes what makes a palpable difference is downright bitter. It takes a leap of faith to see through the haze of this bitter feeling and recognize the underlying reasoning behind a seemingly casual comment made by a student. I’ve written a post about this and one more similar remark on my blog (http://annloseva.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/too-much-of-a-good-thing-teacher/). Having written this, I now realize that I should have paid more attention to #2 on this list. Changing my behaviour in class might involve major personality changes on my part.  To be honest, I’m not sure just what those changes would be.  So, if I’m going to be honest, I should admit that this wisdom is not easily acquired.

8.  I don’t remember you. But I remember what you taught us.

Some of you might have stumbled on this idea on other ELT blogs lately (for example, here http://theotherthingsmatter.blogspot.ru/2013/11/a-whisper-of-gratitude-jalt-2013.html, from Kevin Stein, in Part IV and a bit more in the comments). This is what a student said to her teacher having met her again after several years. I have an itch to write a long commentary on this but I’ll choose to hold back for now and make vague observations. Much as I can’t quite agree with the wisdom here, I do know that a teacher’s ego can be a bothersome thing. This quote had me thinking of my place in a class.  And it also caused me more than a bit of worry (see #7). The right balance between putting myself out front and disappearing into the background is so difficult to find and I struggle with it in almost each and every lesson.

9. Professional development IS a career.

Most of my real life friends, as well as my family, have nothing to do with education. They work in industries of different kinds.  They are working hard, doing overtime to climb those career ladders. Once our conversations touch on the career ladder issue, my story is always the shortest. In my university, no matter how many conferences I attend and present at, I’ll be working as an English language teacher for all my life. While talking about what role the ladder of success seems to play in our careers as a teacher, a very important and wise person from my PLN gave this sharp reply: professional development is a career. This dialogue I will not forget very soon. Because professional development is a career and I am aware of it now.

10.  You’re inexperienced but very natural, real.

I’m surely set on commenting on the inexperienced part of this quote. I think it states the truth very bluntly, and that’s what I like about it. Being inexperienced seems a very natural thing to be as a teacher at my age. I’m almost happy to be finding myself ignorant and rushing to try and fix it. The lessons pass and so do terms, and hopefully what I’m learning from my own reflections and the ELT community will help me build a firm base for the years of teaching to come. At the same time, I wish to hold onto my current emotional understanding of my job, the beliefs about it that I have now.

11. There’s a word we have in Japanese for that – omotenashi.

This is a quote from outside teaching, but maybe still about the people in teaching I’ve met this year. Visiting Japan for JALT Conference has changed my life, my routine, my life plans, my outlook in several ways. When in Japan, I was startled at how kind, friendly and helpful people were to me. The dictionary search tells me omotenashi means “hospitality, entertainment, service”. My wonderful Japanese teacher friend used this word to describe the kind of willingness of the Japanese to be of help. This is one of the features of Japanese culture that keeps luring me back, because everybody likes to be treated nicely.

12.  One should read more, as everything that can possibly be happening within the human soul has been described a good many times, especially so in Russian literature.

This is not an eye-opener. In fact, its obviousness is exactly the reason why I like this statement from Psychologies mag so much. With my love for reading, it seems inexplicable why I fail to integrate reading into my classes in a way I find satisfactory. I love to notice minute details and fleeting impressions as much as I love a good story, so it looks almost a paradox to me that my teaching line is devoid of a chance for students to pay attention to detail or let a story unfold. More wisdom to keep in mind in the year ahead is connected with getting back to Russian literature. I think I’m now ready to do that.

13. I didn’t like myself, now I like myself a little bit.

That is it. Having a look back at the year 2013, I find that I’ve come to like myself a little bit more. Thanks to the people I’ve met, both online and offline, I’ve found myself in the best of places in this community. The community that has shaped itself into a cosy corner where I can feel comfortable saying what I want to say, where I can be sure I’ll receive comforting pats on the back when I’m having a difficult time. The community that is generously sharing their wisdoms with me so that there is always a chance for me to grow and develop as a teacher and as a person.


I would like to thank Malu Sciamarelli, Barbara Sakamoto, Willy Cardoso, Herbert Puchta, Hiroshi Oki, Penny Ur, Michael Griffin, Steven Herder, Naoko Araki Amano, John Fanselow, my students Gosha and Dima, and a glossy mag Psychologies for providing food for thought and a wisdom to hold on to. I would like to stretch my arms in gratitude to so many, and I hope you feel it.


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13 for 2014 – Kevin Stein

12 ways my PLN (often unexpectedly) made my classroom a better place for learning (and teaching) + 1 look ahead
– Kevin Stein

Kevin Stein

This year has been a little busier than I would like.  In many respects I feel like I took much more from the teaching community than I was able to give back.  And is often the case when busy, I haven’t taken as much time as I should to say thank you.  So I’m grateful to have a chance to share a collection of 12 ways my PLN made my school a better place to learn and teach in 2013.


1)    I love Post-It notes.  This might seem like a very small change, but it has been huge for my students.  The fact that I don’t need to run to the board, that the post-in notes remain right there in front of the students, that they can be picked up, elaborated on, slapped into a student notebook and taken home, all of these things make all the difference.  So thanks Carol Goodey (http://cgoodey.wordpress.com) for the original nudge towards post-it notes, and Larissa Albano (http://larissaslanguages.blogspot.it/2013/10/the-power-of-post-it-notes.html) for another example of why Post-It Notes are a crucial classroom tool.


2)    Be a gentle observer.  A few months ago I was wondering why, whenever I observe a class and a student seems unsure of a vocabulary word, the teacher invariably stops the flow of the lesson and insists that the student (or class in general) try and guess the meaning of the word from context.  Why doesn’t the teacher just give the meaning and move on?  I was kind of ranting about the situation over drinks with a more experienced teacher.  He laughed and said, “Maybe they’re just teaching by the book because you’re in the room.”  It hit me that being observed often comes with the feeling of wanting to do things the “right way.”  Being an empathic and supportive observer means keeping this in mind, always.


3)    Comprehensions question, not so bad.  I wrote a series of posts over the course of the year in which I derided comprehension questions.  I was, for the most part, very, very unforgiving and harsh.  Members of the community were for  the most part, much more forgiving of my unforgivingness.  On Twitter, in e-mails, and face to face, teachers would ask (and so gently), “Don’t you think there might be a role for comprehension questions?”  And because they kept asking, I kept thinking.  Eventually, as I was teaching a class in September and thinking how useless the coursebook’s comprehension questions were, I remembered something John Fanselow (http://peacecorpsworldwide.org/teaching/) said: “If you don’t like the questions in the book, have the students make up their own.”  So that’s what I did.  And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.  Comprehension questions do serve a purpose, especially when students write them and ask them to each other to check their own comprehension.


4)    Video as student tool.  For the past year, I’ve been taking short videos of my classes to use as observation tools with my fellow teachers.  Nina Septina and Tim Murphey, both iTDi-ers, suggested that I could take those same videos, give them to the students, and let the students use them as models to practice English outside of the classroom.  Their suggestion was, I think, based on a paper they wrote together here (http://peerspectives.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/language-performance-videoing-for-home-viewing.pdf).  And it allowed me to take a observation tool for teachers and turn it into a resource for student learning.


5)    Moving isn’t just for children.  As a high school teacher, it’s all too easy for me to fall in the trap that sitting at a desk and puzzling over difficult language is what learning is all about.  So thanks to Sir Marco Brazil for your collection of videos (http://www.youtube.com/user/5254marco/videos), Malu Sciamarelli, and Barbara Sakamoto (amongst others) for reminding me that getting up, playing with actual objects, and physically feeling the wonder of learning isn’t something that diminishes as our learners get older.


6)    Walk the mistake walk.  I often give lip service to the idea that making mistakes is good, and that students should make mistakes.  But what does that mean?  And how can I do more than just give lip service?  One of my favourite PLNers, Sophia Khan (http://languagelearningteaching.wordpress.com), started a blog this year and she had me thinking about mistakes.  I realised that probably the best thing I can do is just own up to my own mistakes in class and show the students how I’m going to use that knowledge to make future classes, hopefully, a bit better.  So this year I’ve said sorry a bit more often.  And I like to think that’s helped my students see their own errors as a chance to improve.


7)    Useful tech.  This year I set aside some time for the students in the computer room.  Not much, about an hour a week.  Some of my favourite bloggers have kept up a steady stream of comments and reflections on tech they love to use in the classroom.  So thanks to Sandy Millin (http://sandymillin.wordpress.com)and Chiew Pang (http://aclil2climb.blogspot.jp/p/useful-resources.html) and many others, for links and lesson plans about Quizlet (quizlet.com), Lyrics Training (http://www.lyricstraining.com), and Storybird (http://storybird.com) to name just a few of the tools that my students have loved enough in the classroom to take outside of the classroom and make language learning a larger part of their lives.


8)    Pronunciation work has always been one aspect of language teaching that I felt could be saved for when there was more time.  But in a classroom, there is never really “more time.”  A series of blog posts on pronunciation by Alex Grevett (http://breathyvowel.wordpress.com) convinced me that students might be much more interested in pronunciation that I thought.  So thank you Alex for convincing me to take the time I need, and the students want, to focus on pronunciation issues.


9)    Tell ‘em what’s wrong.  Cecilia Lemos, iTDi associate, blogger and teacher, gave a talk at IATEFL (http://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/2013/sessions/2013-04-09/oral-correction-reflections-recovering-recaster) this year in which she challenged the notion that clearly correcting students’ mistakes will somehow inhibit classroom learning.  It was a great chance for me to rethink what error correction is all about.  And when I asked my students, it turned out that they wanted, whenever possible, quick, clear and concrete error correction as well.


10) Go to Activities.  At the end of the year, Anna Loseva (http://annloseva.wordpress.com/2013/11/16/the-flashmobelt-movement/) and Michael Griffin (http://eltrantsreviewsreflections.wordpress.com) came up with #FlashMobELT, a lino wall filled with classroom activities that take little to no preparation.  (http://linoit.com/users/annaloseva/canvases/flashmobELT).  Having 1 or 2 of these activities in reserve has given me a nice cushion to fall back on when things don’t exactly go as planned.


11)  Other Ways to Collect Feedback.  For much of the year, I found myself stuck in a student feedback rut.  But thanks to posts on fostering student reflection by Alex Walsh (http://www.alienteachers.com/1/post/2013/05/promoting-student-reflections-failures-successes-and-lessons.html) and a host of other suggestions such as feedback boards, many of which can be found here on Anne Hendler’s blog (http://lizzieserene.wordpress.com/2013/12/19/collecting-and-using-learner-feedback-a-workshop/), I was able to make the giving and collecting of student feedback a much more enjoyable part of class.


12) Teaching is trust.  When a class starts, and the students are sitting at a table, all of the theory and knowledge in the world isn’t going to do very much if your students don’t feel that you care about them.  Every single time I read a blog post, every single time I perused the iTDi forums and interacted with teachers on FaceBook, I was reminded again and again, that here are a group of teachers who are, more than anything else, dedicated to their students.  Dedicated to fostering their students’ potential, to making a safe place for learning.  And knowing that I am part of this community, makes me a much better teacher than I used to be.


So this has been a year of much taking.  These are just 12 of the ways the teachers I know and respect have made me a better educator.  Which leaves me with 1 more something to bring this post to a nice round 13 for 13.  And I would like to end by looking to next year.  #13 is a promise to give something back.  This year, more than anything else, I’ve learned that I am a member of a community which recognises the value of experience.  We are a community which believe that all teachers have something important to say.  So my goal for next year is to more actively help to create that kind of space and invite as many teachers as I can into it.  Because 14 for 14, 15 for 15, and even 45 for 45 is well within our reach.  Especially if we have a chance to hear the rich and nuanced voices of all the teachers dedicated to making learning possible.


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13 for 2014

As we move into a new year, Kevin Stein, Ann Loseva, Josette Leblanc and Chuck Sandy look back
and offer a reflective way ahead with their posts made up of 13 ideas and observations from 2013.

Chuck Sandy
Chuck Sandy
Josette LeBlanc
Josette LeBlanc
Ann Loseva
Ann Loseva
Kevin Stein
Kevin Stein


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