Teachers’ Weekly Self-Assessment Guide

Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 6.35.02 PMVia Twitter, Facebook, and Skype, Act 2 Educational Consultants LLC asked experienced teachers around the world what they would advise new teachers to include on their weekly to-do list. This certainly wasn’t meant to give those new teachers more work, but was meant rather to help lighten their loads and increase their effectiveness as educators by borrowing from the valuable experiences of their senior, global colleagues.

We are fortunate to have received twenty-five responses so far, and the poll is still open for others to add their thoughts. The suggestions deal with academics as well as with relationship building and avoiding teacher burnout.

I am happy to pass these suggestions on to you in hopes that you will share them with your colleagues, both new and seasoned. These suggestions can benefit all teachers, and, in turn, their administrators, and their students.

Do you have an idea that has helped you be more successful in the classroom?

60+ resources to connect & collaborate with other educators from @edutopia

Kaizena-Adding Voice Comments & More To Google Drive

Thanks to Richard Byrne of Free Technology for Teachers, Kaizena is now an integral part of my Google Drive toolbox.  Kaizena, which means “good change,” allows us to leave voice comments on a Google doc which is a great help to our students but also to us for collaboration.   With this new tool, we won’t have to type out all our comments unless we want to!  That is an option, however.  And, there are many other options such as color coding our comments as Stacey Behmer explains in this video tutorial.  Stacey also explains how to tag our comments to help our students visit different sites to strengthen their skills or add to their resources.

This is an exciting new application to enhance our work on the Google Drive and a helpful tutorial full of ideas.  All of us who use the Google Drive with our students or in collaboration with our colleagues will definitely want to add Kaizena to our Google toolbox.

My Resolutions and Best Wishes for 2012

I don’t know anyone who, at this time of year, hasn’t been thinking about starting better living habits, or searching for at least one personal promise that maybe this year she or he could keep.  I certainly fit in that role, but, being the eternal optimist that I am, I have lists of promises that I hope to keep to myself.  I have these resolutions broken down into two categories, personal and professional with three subcategories in each: my resolutions as a wife, mother, and individual.  Professionally, I have subcategorized my resolutions this way:  classroom, collegial, and  professional development.

Personally-
As a wife:

  1. I promise to be more present at home.  I will put the computer down from time to time to engage in conversation with my husband.   I used to tell him that I didn’t want to compete with his computer for attention, and now he has to compete with mine.  Maybe we should introduce our computers to each other.

As a mother:

  1. I will send hand-written notes to my children occasionally in addition to all the emails and texts that I send.  I don’t really know if I should designate this as a promise as a mother since it qualifies even more as a gift to myself.  I realize that my emails and texts can disappear as quickly as the delete button is clicked.  But, just as I am happy to have saved letters from my parents and other relatives, I’m hoping that some of my handwritten notes will be equally hard “to delete” and that maybe one or two might make it for posterity.

For myself:

  1. I need to lighten up on myself and remember that tomorrow is another day; not everything has to be finished before I go to bed.
    My being able to relax and sleep more will probably be a gift to all of us!  You know, when Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!

Professionally-
In the classroom:

  1. I’m going to videotape myself teaching at least once this semester.  It’s been awhile since I’ve done that.  And I also promise myself to focus more on the way I perform as a teacher rather than on how I look with those extra pounds… (Ouch!)
  2. I’ll develop and incorporate more educational games  in my classes.  My students love learning that way, and how much they enjoy and learn from the games will make the work twice as worthwhile.
  3. I plan on using Google+ to create more opportunities, “hangouts,” for my students to communicate with each other and with me after class.
  4. I’ll try harder to help the students learn how they learn best and to develop in them a better self-awareness of their learning styles and strengths.

As a colleague:

  1. I’ll work at being  a better colleague by encouraging others to speak for themselves and to trust the process.
  2. I will remember that I can’t control what people say or what they do, or the political climate both large and small, but I can control how I perceive and deal with it, and make it work for my institution as best I can.

For my own professional development:

  1. I commit to doing all of the above
  2. I’ll attend TESOL in Philadelphia this March.
  3. I look forward to developing at least one podcast and encouraging students to do the same.  This will be a learning experience for me.  I’ll continue to use Audioboo for pronunciation and my audio discussion board, but I’ll have the students experiment with Audacity this semester as well.
  4. I’ll continue to collaborate globally with SkypeTwitter,  Scoop.it, and this blog.
  5. I will continue to work collaboratively on the development of at least one new online ESL resource .

I wish all of you success at keeping your resolutions for 2012.  Keeping ourselves fresh and excited about teaching and learning, our students motivated and successful, and our families healthy and happy will surely make for a great new year.

#ELT Chat

How many of us wish we had colleagues to sit with on a regular basis to brainstorm ideas for improving our teaching, our classrooms, our programs, our in-services, our teaching techniques our up-to-date uses of technology, and most of all our students’ learning?  Well, actually we do, and in the comfort of our own homes!

#ELT Chat fills just that bill, and it takes place weekly via Twitter.   For us in mid-western United States, the chat is held Wednesdays at 6:00 AM CST or Wednesdays at 3:00 PM CST.  However, for those of you outside that time zone, the organizers of this event have provided links to “Find your own local time for each chat here for 12:00 London time and here for 21:00 London time.” If neither of the two times works out for you, there aretranscripts of the conversations available for you to peruse at your convenience.

By participating in this “chat”, we have the opportunity to network with active, creative, collaborative, innovative ELT/ESL/EFL/ESOL/TESL/TEFL etc. professionals from around the world.  Take a look, see what’s there, and put the next #ELT Chat on your calendar!   You can’t go wrong by connecting with this group!

How has the way you work changed over the last ten years?

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s ProfHacker asked today how the way we’ve worked has changed over the last ten years.  My answer is with regards to teaching is… in almost every single way.

1.  Ten years ago, I was making audio cassettes for my students to purchase through the bookstore.  Now I give them links to free sites on the Internet.

2. Ten years ago, I collaborated with very few faculty in my department because our schedules didn’t mesh.  Now we collaborate via the Internet in a variety of ways, email, instant messenger, Facebook, Skype, and a new favorite, Google Docs, as needed or desired.

3.  Ten years ago, if I collaborated at all, it was with teachers in my own school primarily in our shared office.  Now, with all these new technologies, I  collaborate with people all over the world 24/7 .

4.  Ten years ago, two-way video conferences needed to be scheduled well in advance in order to get the equipment.  Now many of us have the equipment at home.  I’m videoconferencing on Skype almost daily.

5.  Ten years ago, people weren’t very willing to share their work.  Now we put our projects, both big and small, on sites such as YouTube, TeacherTube, Facebook, Twitter, SlideShare and on blogs and wikis to share with the world.

6.  Ten years ago, our work used to be saved on our hard drives and always backed up on a floppy.  Now our work is primarily saved in the clouds and backed up on a flash drive.

7.  Ten years ago, teachers got nervous if there were no overhead projectors in their classrooms or transparencies to use (colored ones had to be purchased by us since they were too expensive for the schools to purchase).  Now we have multimedia systems in our classrooms that project right from the computers.

8.  Ten years ago, nearly everything was printed on paper.  Now we are endeavoring not to use paper in order to save our natural resources, not to mention our budgets. Now we are encouraging our students as well as ourselves to design and create using technology rather than paper and pencil.

9.  Ten years ago, I had to carry extra handouts with me for students who had been absent, or the students had to go to my office for them.  Now these handouts are posted online for the students.  Likewise, students submit their work online so there is less chance of conflicts regarding if and when the work has been handed in.  It is also less likely to be lost by either the student or the teacher.

10.  Ten years ago, I worked equally hard, but had access to much less information.  Ten years ago I had to wait to get answers to my questions until I could get to the library or at least to a computer.  Now the answers to most of our questions are at our fingertips wherever we are via our cell phones.

What can you add to this list?  It’s fun to ponder.  It’s even more fun to ponder how our work will change over the next ten years.

The “Hole-in-the Wall” Project on TED by Sugata Mitra

In this TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) presentation, Sugata Mitra, Ph.D.,  Professor of Educational Technology at the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University, UK, and Chief Scientist, Emeritus, at NIIT in Gurgaon, India, proves with his “hole in the wall” experiments, carried out in some of the poorest parts of the world, that children “will learn to do what they want to learn to do” regardless of who or where they are in the world.  He discusses children’s ability to learn without instruction given the opportunity, computers, and learning companions.  Furthermore, he suggests that teachers who understand and value this concept of learning will be able to unleash amazing amounts of learning energy in their students.

How can we unleash this learning energy in our adult ESL students?  In our classrooms and workshops,  let’s recreate a form of Dr. Mitra’s SOLES (self-organized learning environments), and ask our students to collaboratively find answers to questions by capitalizing on each other’s knowledge without any intervention or interference by the teacher.   I don’t propose that this be the daily lesson plan, but it can be an activity to accompany almost any lesson if structured appropriately.  Will the students improve their English-language, problem-solving and technology skills simply by being given the opportunity, the resources, and the cohorts?  You betcha!    Just as In Language Learning, Silence is Golden on the part of the teacher, also golden is allowing our students to be at the center of their learning rather than the instructor!  Can these SOLES also be set up to have students develop a project, be it a video, glog, audio file, story, or other creation demonstrating the technology, language, and problem-solving competencies they have achieved through these  “hole-in-the-wall exercises? Let’s find out!

Another thought…Dr. Mitra talked about the “Granny Cloud” from which kindhearted souls would Skype into the classroom to help and encourage the children in their learning.  Why aren’t we using Skype in our classes to give our adult students contact with kindhearted volunteers who might not be able to be physically present in the classroom but who could, nevertheless, offer language and cultural assistance to our students through tutoring, guided conversation practice, and/or by simply by being on hand to answer questions or to ask them, “how are you doing today, my friend?”

Thanks to Adam Burke for his post, Lessons in the Absence of Teachers.