Being a Skillful Teacher

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What does being a skillful teacher mean to you? Is it the same as or similar to being a powerful teacher? Are there any expectations inherent in unravelling any difference between these two perceptions?

Stephen Brookfield, a scholar in adult education, is someone I look up to because his focus is on helping adults learn how to critically think about internalized ideologies.  He believes that we teach to change the world and that being a sincere and reflective educator can be complex but that we need to be aware of those complexities in order to learn and empower our students (Brookfield, 2015). I have always enjoyed learning about his perspective and determining how I can use it in my teaching techniques.

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The Outrageous Refuse of PBLA

image source: Stacey Vandenberg

If you work with PBLA, what does your program site do with the leftover Language Companion Binders?  What you are looking at in the picture are leftover PBLA binders at our location. Most are full of the quintessential “artifacts.”  We have tried to encourage students to take the binders with them when they leave the program, but the fact is that they are not wanted. Management and staff have discussed different strategies to facilitate binder departures, but so far most of our students just smile politely and say “no thank you” before exiting as fast as possible, lest we try to put it into their hands. Can you blame them? Who wants this huge awkward emblem of the past century filling shelf space at home, not to mention the weight when it is fully loaded?

What should we do with this precious plastic? We thought it would be best to take out the old artifacts and recycle the binders back into the classroom to be reused. This seems like a good idea but who is going to do this time-consuming job? Who will do the cleanup? Should the administrators or settlement workers be responsible? Perhaps those supposed volunteers that were frequently referred to but who never materialized will do the work.  As it is, teachers are still not being fully compensated for the time we spend on PBLA, so not us.

What about the ton of paper inside the binders? Those have to go into the recycling bin. The levity with which IRCC considers the environment is astonishing. In a time when many countries are banning plastic and using technology to reduce paper consumption, we are finding ways to increase its use.

The implementation of PBLA has been poorly thought out from the start. There is no fiscal plan for fair compensation, no environmental conscience, and no evidence that it is enhancing learners’ experience. Why are we still using it?

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Reflections of Summer Teaching on a Snowy Day

Concept Dreams Come True,  miracle, a dog with eyes closed sits in a winter forest and dreams of summer, butterflies fly around
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I’m looking forward to the summer months. Even though there’s still snow on the ground, I recall my adventures teaching ESL at a children’s summer camp. I learned a lot, as I do every year. I enjoyed adapting existing material and creating my own instead of working strictly from a textbook. It was challenging and time consuming, but I would argue better, more student-centered, and fun.

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After Decades in the Field, I Am on the Board!

Inspire hand lettering phrase on watercolor imitation background with color splashes frame.  Modern calligraphy inspirational quote. Vector illustration.
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In 2018, after some 37 years in the TESL field, I joined the TESL Ontario Board. This is the ideal volunteer challenge for me at this point in my life. I am keen to do what I can to contribute to the health of the organization and, most importantly, to the ongoing professionalization of TESL. Throughout the life of a teacher, you gain perspective as your career progresses and at one point you realize that you are ready to pitch in and give some time to the profession at large.

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October 22 #CdnELTchat (Technology, Organization, Blended Learning and Online Learning)

Image source: #CdnELTchat

by Jennifer Chow

On October 22, enthusiastic #CdnELTchat participants talked about “Technology, Organization, Blended Learning and Online Learning”. We were excited to have Rob McBride (@LearnIT2Teach) of New Language Solutions join us as our guest moderator for this chat. Rob is one of the project managers for the EduLINC coursewareand LearnIT2Teach/Avenue.ca. Thank-you to all those who added their thoughts before, during and after the chat. 

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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

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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

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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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