Four women sitting in a circle and clapping as a fifth woman stands and shares some achievement

Support Our Teacher Colleagues

We get so much from our colleagues! Sometimes we need to support our teacher colleagues and tell them what they admire in them. Here’s my list of what I’ve learned from fellow teachers over the years. How about you?

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My Teacher Manifesto

Why am I sharing my teacher manifesto? I discovered some old blogposts from my now-defunct personal blog recently on professional development that I think stand up and are worth reposting. The best ones were inspired by the 30 Goals Challenge by Shelly Terrell. This was a brilliant professional development idea that had teaches around the world sharing ideas, activities, lesson plans, support, and art! So I’ll be reprinting them here from time to time, with light editing. I’ve included links to Shelly’s website and book in case you want to try out some challenges of your own. Tag me […]

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Prosody over Accent

I hear it from students all the time. “I need to get rid of my accent” or “I need a real English accent.” There’s even a whole cottage industry of people “teaching” real accents. The argument for a “real native English accent” is easy to refute. Start with the fact that a lot of those “real native accent” videos are taught by people who aren’t technically native speakers. So which is it? Do you want a “real native accent” or not? I was just watching a video series by a Nigerian gentleman with so many comments about how he […]

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Writing Outside the Box: Building Students’ Creativity

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had students tell me that they don’t know how to be creative. They think creativity is a talent that you are born with or not. While it’s true that some people seem to be better at creativity than others, I really think being creative is more of a skill that can be practiced and honed. And not all our students need to be super creative all the time. However, creative thinking is a great life skill that helps with problem-solving. And in writing, even academic or professional writing, being able to […]

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Elements of Effective Instruction and the Art of Mario Brothers

I’ve been doing a lot of drawing with my son lately. I love to draw and I always have, but I don’t think I’m incredibly good at it. A lot of my art in high school was pretty bad. But I think I’ve come a long way in the past couple of years. And so has my son. We love to draw freely, but sometimes we try to copy Pokémon characters from his books or Mario Kart Drivers from the Internet. And sometimes we do a guided video to learn to draw something new. We particularly like Art for […]

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Those Students: Deictic Expressions and Real-World Communication Skills

I’ve been doing a lot of presentations on pragmatics recently and thinking about how to teach students real-world communication skills in English. The problem is that in the classroom we often communicate at a very literal and direct level. Outside the classroom, we don’t! We leave things unsaid, assume knowledge on the part of the listener, even exaggerate or outright lie! We also use idiomatic language, fixed expressions, and deictic expressions, language that take their meaning from context. And maybe the hardest group of deictic expression is “insider expressions” when we talk to people. These are expressions that people […]

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Best of the Year!

I feel like this is the year that we are less looking forward to a new year, as looking forward to saying goodbye to the old year! But there were definitely some highlights of the year. I’m amazed at how so many teachers found ways to survive and even thrive in 2020. It meant adapting to new tools and situations, but we did it. Even if it was a very small success, we managed to pull it off. So below find our top posts of 2020, best-selling books, and our most desirable authors (ok, the authors whose archive pages […]

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Why a Teacher Shared Her Burnout Story

Patrice Palmer had been teaching English for 20 years when she left teaching in 2015. She felt no desire to continue teaching even though she loved ESL. But she didn’t realize that she had burned out, unaware that teacher burnout was a thing. Ironically, not teaching every day may have been what gave her the time to start reading about educator stress and teacher burnout. She read about useful tools such as the Maslach Burnout Inventory. She discovered the research on how frequently teachers were leaving the profession. And googling “teacher well-being”, she discovered the Teacher Self-Care Conference.All well […]

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I Don’t Know an Interesting Fact About Myself

A while back, I did a workshop for teachers from the former Soviet Union and as a very quick icebreaker, I just asked everyone to say one interesting fact about themselves. The first teacher said, “My name is Elena and my interesting fact is that I am from Karaganda, Kazakhstan.” After that, the second teacher got up, said her name and told us where she was from. And so it continued. One teacher tried to say something fun about himself. I believe he said he liked going riding. However, the crowd quickly corrected him: “We’re saying where we are […]

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Back to School but Keeping the Essence in Sight

This is the perfect time to pick up a copy of Keeping the Essence in Sight by Sharon Hartle. Why now? It’s August already. The first day of class is on the horizon. Or for some of you, it’s already here, or there was no summer break at all. If you are one of those poor souls, then you know better than anyone the importance of finding time outside the classroom to reflect on our practice, find new ideas to chew on, and prepare for the coming term. In short, we need time to think outside class in order to be […]

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