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Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Teaching and Food

Throughout the years I got used to other teachers' glares and yellow smiles whenever they heard about how I teach. For a long time I had no idea how it was that I taught. I knew I wanted to do something different, I wanted to change the(ir) world, but I didn't know how.

Somewhere along the way, all that mistrust (from teachers and students) gave me the will to keep going. In the last 2 years I finally understood how it was that I taught, what my "methodology" is.

Love.

I teach with and through love. I really care about my kids. I feel every little pain they feel. I want them to get better, I want them to feel they can be better. For some, going to faculty or going to the moon are eually impossible. They doubt themselves every step of the way. Maybe far more used to heraing "you can't..." than to "you can..."

Our role as teachers... I've thought of this again and again. I still don't know exactly what it is. I just know this: today I gave a student a cookie. He had been angry and looking miserable the whole lesson, refusing to do anything. I should have given him the cookie the first time he said "I'm hungry". That was probably the first thing he had the whole morning and by the time I gave it to him, it was already 12:30. He smiled when he saw it. He smiled when he left the room. He didn't say "thank you", he's too tough for that and we're not there, yet. But I really couldn't care less. I didn't give him the cookie to hear him thank me, but because he was hungry. And for at least once in the morning, inside a classroom, he smiled.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

September has come again

And the month of September has arrived... For a long time I couldn't wait for the month to arrive. New books, new materials. New subjects and things to learn and discover. Then years passed and I became a teacher. 21 years this year. And the excitement was the same, new faces to meet, new names to learn, new challenges. This year I'm starting a new challenge. I'm taking my Delta and everything goes well, there's something even bigger happening. I'll keep you posted ;-)

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Start, again and again

I don't know how often I've said this, or even thought about it.

"this time it's going to be different" and it never is.

I love my blog, I know it helps people throughout the world and that makes my heart happy. I wish I could do more. Write more, but I never seem to get the chance. Maybe this time. Maybe this time.


Sunday, 17 July 2016

Trainers & Trainees

I'd really like to understand what's the whole point of tormenting CELTA trainees. It's supposed to be an enrichening experience, where people are given a chance to learn and grow. At least that's what I felt 20 years ago. Has the purpose changed over time?


Friday, 29 April 2016

It will never work (part 1)



I know I haven’t been posting recently. My apologies. Some of you know that I’m taking the IHTT (IH Teacher Training) course online, which has been extremely helpful, but also hasn’t allowed me much time for anything else.
Last week’s module was about “Reflexive Practice”. As I’ve found throughout the course, things seem to be fitting in with exactly what I need or with what I’m doing at the moment. And it so happens that last week I ran my first workshop at APPI (Associação Portuguesa de Professores de Inglês), over 100 sessions and people were actually interested in what I had to say? That certainly came as a surprise. My session was entitled “Learning? Sorry, not interested.” and it focused on strategies teachers could use with more challenging groups. A few days before the session I found myself wondering “What are you doing, Sandra?” you see, I’m a relatively young teacher (38) but I’ve been teaching for 20 years. So if yu do the maths this means I started when I was 18. No pre-service course, not even a degree. Fresh out of Proficiency, I was literally thrown into a classroom with nothing but a coursebook and a huge amount of determination.
A lot has evolved in these last 20 years. The teachers and how we look at teaching. The students and their world. All the gadgets and technology available to both them and us. A whole planet, with new challenges that willing or not we are forced to take into the classroom. Like I said, last week was all about reflection in our course so this will be my (almost) first post related to reflection. This time I’d like to talk about new ideas in general. Throughout the conference I saw brilliant PPTs with perfect descriptions of how activities should be staged. I saw a lot of innovative ideas and shared the smile on some people’s faces while secretly telling myself “Yes, that is brilliant, and it will never work.” You see, I find that some of the things (quite a few, actually) that are usually presented at conferences, or even teacher development sessions, are quite utopic. What happens is that sometimes teachers are unable to put them into practice or adapt them to their classes. We live in a world where you either need to always use IWB or never use them at all, because children can’t concentrate for over a minute, these days, and we need to “make” them “be aware” and “focus” on the world around them. It’s funny how I always find that the latest are those who will also tell you they have a hard time using technology. :-)


I heard a number of comments of things like “Yes, everything works for them, nothing works for us.” Or “Of course it will work for him. He’s got a class of 12 while I’ve got 32 kids in my room!” Are we helping teachers? I still have a hard time calling myself a teacher trainer, it’s almost like if I am I move up in the ladder and I don’t know more than them – It’s just not as easy to reach me. In my session I used pictures of the students performing the activities. I wanted to show that is was possible, that it was not just theory, that I was just like them. Because, you see, when I grow up, I want to be just like them: passionate teachers, always looking for different things that might work. No guarantees, just a lot of good will and hope and love for teaching.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Phrasal Verbs in Everyday Conversation

Phrasal verbs are used, mostly, in informal conversation. They are a natural way, usually shorter to convey a number of ideas. Are they simple? Unfortunately the answer is "No. Not really." There are so many phrasal verbs that you can find dictionaries specialised only on Phrasal Verbs. Here's a post introducing the topic, if this is the first time you've heard about them.


Today I'd like you to watch this short lesson about using phrasal verbs when speaking. Write down one or two that might come in handy and try using them the next time you have a conversation in English.


Sunday, 3 January 2016

Happy New Year

Yes, it's been a while and yes... it's quite embarrassing that I haven't written in such a long time.

2016 will be a different year. I can feel it. I don't have big plans, but I do have plans and one of them is to revive both the blog and the Facebook page. I also plan to write more articles for journals and to go to attend more conferences. I plan to finish the courses I'm developing and the book with teaching ideas I've been writing...

Well, reading the last paragraph makes me realise I'm quite ambitious for the coming year. I'm ready for it. 2016 will be a great year.