Self-care for teachers: #CdnELTchat September 24, 2019

image source: #CdnELTchat

written by Bonnie Nicholas

As always, during the live chat, participants had a lively discussion responding to the questions posted by our moderator, Augusta Avram. And as always, people who couldn’t participate in the live chat added to the richness of the conversation afterwards through the #slowburn format. Thanks to everyone who participated! A couple of themes emerged from the ongoing conversation: #ELT can be stressful work, and we need to take care of ourselves and support each other. Some ideas that were shared included having an emergency self-care kit, remembering that “no” is a complete sentence, making  time and space to debrief, blocking off me time, advocating for ourselves as well as for our students, setting boundaries, and remembering the importance of exercise and physical health.

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What I Did on My Summer Vacations

Image Source: Patrice Palmer
Palmer, second from left, with staff of Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce Training Centre, 2017.





Do you remember having to write about your summer vacation on your first day back to school?  It doesn’t seem like a very original topic, but I want to share my experience as a volunteer in Honduras, Ethiopia, and Guyana with Canadian Executive Services Organization (CESO).  You are probably wondering how this happened since I’m an ESL teacher, not an executive.  Let me explain. 

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September Brings a New School Year and New PD Goals

Start of school year concept. Teacher faceless holds blackboard with title back to school. Man welcomes students, chalkboard on background. Teacher holds chalkboard in front of face.
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The start of a new school year is upon us! Are you prepping for the first week of classes? The excitement of new students, the rush to finalize lesson plans and materials, the planning and organizing of new routines at home are all part of the exhilarating feeling that September fills the air with. September is a chance for a new start. Maybe you’ve been reading the blog throughout the summer for some new lesson ideas or new technology to try out in the classroom.  But September is also a time to think about new professional development goals.

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Summer Camp – Where Learning Can Be Fun

Summer Camp word cloud , education concept
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Over the summer, I worked as an ESL teacher at a summer camp for children and teens from abroad. This was my third-year teaching at the camp and I had a great time!

Camp Chaos

As expected, it was chaos, with students arriving every week from countries like Mexico, Brazil, Italy, South Korea, and Japan. There were lots of new faces with students coming and going.

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Let It Snow: My Students’ First Time Seeing Snow

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It was a cold day in January, 2017. I was standing in front of a class of about twenty students from Panama who had come to Canada as part of the Panama Bilingue Program. I was trudging my way through my lesson, clicking through slide after slide of my rigorously-prepared Power Point presentation, when suddenly something happened that changed my outlook on teaching ESL forever: it started snowing.

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Spring Reflections

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The cherry blossoms are out! It’s spring and finally warm enough to ride my bike to work.  I do my best thinking on that bike. With a new semester starting, I find myself reflecting on the semester gone by.  Peddling on cold, rainy days tends to cause me to remember my failures, but on warm, sunny mornings, I recall my successes.  For 16 years I have been teaching university prep writing, grammar, reading, speaking, and listening to students from around the world. 

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What about those Unexpected Fights?

A few years ago, I asked my students to do oral presentations about the geography of their native countries as a speaking test for LINC level 6-7. It seemed like a good idea, one that was more focused on English rather than research. The students prepared their PowerPoint presentations and when the presentation day finally arrived, the first up was Aisha from Pakistan.

She showed us several slides of Pakistan, pausing on the last one that clearly outlined the territory of the country. As Aisha explained the boundaries and its position relative to other countries, another student, Aryo, who was in the back row, jumped to his feet and pointed at the bottom border and said, “That’s wrong, that’s in Afghanistan!” I was still looking at the slide when he rushed up to the slide and traced the boundary he was referring to with his finger. “This is in Afghanistan, not Pakistan!” He kept repeating ever more loudly and stabbing his finger on the slide. I didn’t know it then, but there was a disputed border between the two countries where both were claiming the same land.

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#CdnELTchat: join the chat on Tuesday!

If you’re a Twitter user, join the next #CdnELTchat usually every second Tuesday. Below is a recap of the November 27th chat from the #CdnELTchat moderators.


I have been learning how to speak Mandarin for the better part of twenty years, but I still can’t produce the fourth tone correctly. I automatically say the first tone instead of the fourth tone in conversation. I am aware that I do this, yet I can’t seem to correct this bad habit. Is this a fossilized error? Is there anything I can do to overcome this error? On November 27th, a group of educators discussed these questions and more on #CdnELTchat.

Thank-you so much to the enthusiastic participants who contributed their ideas and shared resources during this chat. Continue reading

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#CdnELTchat: join the chat on Tuesday!

image source: #CdnELTchat

If you’re a Twitter user, join the next #CdnELTchat on Tuesday, November 27th. Below is a recap of the November 4th chat from the #CdnELTchat moderators.


What does it mean for learners to be autonomous and accountable? How do you teach students to take responsibility of their own learning? What roles does metacognition play in learner autonomy? These are some of the questions that a group of educators tackled on November 6th.  Bonnie Jean Nicholas (@EALStories) and Jennifer Chow (@jennifermchow) moderated a #CdnELTchat to explore this topic.

Thank-you so much to the enthusiastic participants Continue reading

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Join the next conversation on #CdnELTchat

image source: #CdnELTchat

If you’re a Twitter user, read on to learn how you can join the next #CdnELTchat.   Below is a recap of the October 23rd chat from the #CdnELTchat moderators.

Being able to use learning strategies and study skills can empower students to become independent learners. What learning strategies and study skills do English language learners need to support their language learning journey? Bonnie Jean Nicholas (@EALStories) and Jennifer Chow (@jennifermchow) moderated a #CdnELTchat to explore this topic.   Continue reading

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