May 30

The together teacher

I’ll admit, I’m definitely a bit of a list-geek and I like to think I’m generally well-organised though will happily admit things fall through the net (and it really annoys me when they do).

Since September, I had been using one of the Additio weekly planners which are hugely popular here with mainstream teachers. It was a gift from my friend Amy, as she knows how much I love notebooks and being organised. To be honest, it worked really well for a long time – there’s plenty of space to plan lessons, plus room to write down meetings and things to do, plus it has a monthly planner at the front…all in all, it’s a great planner.

However, my colleague Carmen recently gave a talk at TEFL del Sur which has made me even more organised and much happier about the way I set up my to do lists. Her talk was based on a Coursera course which she’d taken called Get Organized: How to be a Together Teacher. During her talk, Carmen showcased some planner templates which had been presented during the course and inspired me to change from my stylish planner to homemade bits of paper.

So why the change?

Firstly, I’m now teaching a lot less than I was earlier in the year and doing a lot more work on the computer. I found that the planner only really stayed open in an upright position next to me if it was pegged up and it wasn’t easy then to turn to different weeks or to the monthly planner. Unforunately, my second-hand desk isn’t wide enough for my laptop and an open A4 planner!

Secondly, teaching less meant that I didn’t need so much space to plan lessons, but definitely need more space for my to do lists! So creating my own planner meant that I could have clear spaces for my different ‘hats’.

Having separate weekly and monthly planners means I can easily flip between the two and colour-coding activities makes me happy: meetings, deadlines, birthdays, essential-don’t-forget-to-do-this items – each has its own colour.

You can see it hasn’t made me a perfectly oiled organisation machine, as I’d originally intended to write this post on Monday, so I’ve simply delayed the pleasure of scratching it through with my red pen!

May 28

A birthday present

This is another of the guided visualisations which I did at the InnovateELT conference a couple of weeks ago. It’s especially suitable for learners who are preparing for the Cambridge PET and works well in a group of six or more.

Here’s a rough script for the guided visualisation:

Imagine you’re going shopping. Are you in a shopping centre or the town centre?

What can you see around you? Is it busy or quiet?

What can you hear? Are there people talking? Can you hear music playing or the sounds of cars going by?

Imagine you’re going to buy a birthday present for a friend. Look around and choose which shop you’re going to go into.

Now you’re inside the shop. How does the space feel? Is it big or small? Is it crowded or empty?

Is there any music playing?

Does the shop have a particular smell?

Wander around and look at the different things you could buy your friend. Pick things up. Feel the texture. Feel the weight. Check the price.

Decide on the present you’re going to buy and when you’re ready, open your eyes and tell your partner about the present.

One thing I like about this task is that the guided visualisation takes the learners on a journey, but what we’re really interested in is the end product, so they don’t need to share the process of getting to the present, just the object they finally decided on.

As learners are sharing with their partner, use the time to monitor and collect errors or new language you’d like to share with the class. As the topic is very open, learners might have decied to buy clothes, furniture or decorative household items, plants, jewellery…so a wide variety of language can come up whilst they’re sharing.

Feedback as a group on the different items learners chose for their present. Then write a six or so of them on the board, along with the price of each. This then leads onto a PET-style discussion activity.

Say to the group:

You want to buy a birthday present for a friend. Talk together about the different things you could buy and then decide which would be best.

Learners work in pairs to do the task, whilst you monitor and collect errors.

Do some feedback on the task, asking pairs which present they chose and why.

 

 

May 18

Visualise This!

Thanks to everyone who came along to my session on Saturday at InnovateELT. Below are the slides and links to the activities we did. If there are any doubts, just leave a comment, send me an email or message me on Twitter. Happy visualising!

Visualise this! from verybouncyperson

The Rock

Nora

An explanation of SPRE in more detail

Spot the difference

Guided visualisation leading on to an agreement-reaching discussion (similar to FCE and PET speaking exams)

 

May 16

Nora

Thanks again to Jane Arnold – I first heard her read this story years ago at a TESOL-SPAIN event and it’s stuck with me ever since.

Part 1

Nora was a little old lady who lived in a remote part of Scotland. She had lived alone for many years since her husband died and to pass the time on lonely nights, she would do jigsaw puzzles.

Part 2

One stormy night, Nora was doing a puzzle when suddenly, she heard a knock at the door. She was more than a little surprised.

“Who can be calling at this late hour?” she thought to herself as she walked down the hallway and opened the door.

May 15

InnovateELT

I had a truly amazing time at the InnovateELT conference this weekend. I’ve wanted to go since it first started four years ago and am so happy that I finally got my act together, submitted a proposal and went.

As a huge fan of professional development, and especially conferences, I generally have a good time whenever I’m off TEFLing – meeting other ELT professionals, sharing ideas, confirming and questioning beliefs – I get a real buzz out of it. But Innovate felt especially special…

Firstly, it was incredible to finally meet lots of people who I follow and admire on social media, namely Twitter – Amy Blanchard, Sarah Priestly, Zhenya Polosatova, Melody Philip and more – and professional contacts who I’ve only conversed with via email – Dan Shepherd, Karen Spiller, Nicola Meldrum, Fran Austin and others.

Secondly, I got the sensation that everyone who was there was genuinely engaged and involved. So often attending conferences can feel like a teacher’s CPD obligation for the year but it was clear from the levels of enthusiasm for ELT that this isn’t the case with InnovateELT attendees.

I’ll admit the promise of craft beer was also a decisive factor in my applying for InnovateELT and the social atmosphere surrounding the conference didn’t disappoint. With the beautiful backdrop of the OxfordTEFL garden, the Espiga flowed, as did the conversation.

Congratulations to the InnovateELT team, eltjam and OxfordTEFL for such an incredible conference and thank you as well to everyone who came to my session on Guided Visualisations – I’ll post up all the ideas from the session over the next few days.