I had planned on giving one of my classes a task every Friday. What’s that saying? Ah, yes. Even the best laid plans. . . My plan was running like a well-oiled machine until the final week of classes before the Christmas break. I’d scheduled a writing task on December 15, and the class did it. That was not the problem. Time was. I didn’t have enough of it to cover all the material, and so I decided to teach to the test, or task, as it were.Continue reading
As an ESL teacher with over a decade of progressive teaching experience, no notion in English language pedagogy was as mind–blowing to me as the idea of learner autonomy. The way that learning and learners are seen as autonomous has always resonated highly with me; I always thought if anyone masters independent learning, they can learn almost anything with joy and efficiency. Recently, however, I’ve been thinking differently about this. Not because I am now a skeptic of this approach, but because I have been wondering if all learners want to be independent learners! Based on my recent encounters and experience at work, I now think maybe there are some learners who learn best without being independent. In this blog post, I’d like to share my own experience with this type of learner. Continue reading
I know the orthodoxy of education is for lessons to be student centred. But I’m going to risk excommunication here by suggesting that there are times when it’s absolutely essential that classes be teacher centred. Literacy classes are such instances.
To go against one’s training and instincts by shifting focus to oneself (the teacher) is one of the many challenges of teaching a literacy class. It doesn’t take long, however, to see that the lower the level of a student’s English, the more guidance, scaffolding, and support they need from their teacher.Continue reading
Learning never stops; this now includes both humans and Artificial Intelligence. As I type this blog post, I find myself either tabbing to accept the suggested word or ignoring the suggestion. Being prompted to type what auto-text thinks I should be writing can be annoying and, if I am not careful, I end up writing a word that I did not mean to write or, worse yet, pressing ‘send’ on a message or email with one or two unintended words. Although I appreciate its usefulness on some occasions, it irks me when I am given the wrong suggestion, as in the case of Grammarly’s use of double commas on a salutation (since when did adding a comma after ‘Hello’ or ‘Hi’ and before someone’s name become the grammar norm?)Continue reading
Tseng Tzu said, “Every day I examine myself on three counts. In what I have undertaken on another’s behalf, have I failed to do my best? In my dealings with my friends have I failed to be trustworthy in what I say? Have I passed on to others anything that I have not tried out myself? (as cited in Confucius & Waley, 1938).
Self-reflection is an approach that allows you to have an opportunity to examine what you have done and what you can learn from your past. However, it is never an easy thing to do, as we are living in a fast-paced world full of “smart” devices. We may spot our mistakes and want to improve, but soon enough we will leave everything behind and move on to a new project. The problem is that we can never go anywhere without reflection. In this article, I am going to talk about how to take advantage of self-reflection to help us improve from both teacher and student perspectives.Continue reading
Guest Contributor: Christine Smart-Wiseman
Like many others in the field, I am always looking for new ways to improve my teaching. My research as a PhD student at York University led me to examine teaching from a critical pedagogical approach. The guiding principle of this approach is to construct equitable and democratic classrooms with a goal to positively transform students’ lives (Canagarajah, 2005).
While I was doing my research in an ELL classroom, I uncovered many ways in which ELL environments contradict the goals of critical pedagogical approaches. In many cases, planning and preparing ahead to foster a classroom environment that supports critical learning can overcome these challenges, but at times, there may be a dynamic need to shift classroom spaces towards empowering teaching and learning. I have developed a strategy I call critical pivoting to address this problem and would like to share it with you.
Schools were first developed not as a past-time, but as a way to elevate the rich and then as a way to educate the masses before they entered the workforce. One of the most basic reasons for this was the need for a literate workforce. Literacy and mathematics have been at the core of global educational systems for hundreds of years, and maybe not surprisingly, these subjects are still there.Continue reading
If you google the meaning of “mentorship”, you can find the literal meaning in the dictionary. According to Merriam-Webster, mentorship means “the influence, guidance, or direction given by a mentor” (n.d.). But what does this mean in practice? Why is having a mentor important? This article discusses the importance of mentorship at work, how to find a mentor, and how to maintain a healthy and successful mentorship.Continue reading
Have you been asking yourself what technologies you could- or should- use to deliver your online courses? Maybe you’re looking for some guidance as to what to use and when. Online teaching challenges us to try a lot of new things, but we don’t have to imagine what functions well and when on our own. Instead, we can refer to the technology and learning pedagogy models which are out there to assist us in making informed decisions about technology in our lessons.
Puentedura’s SAMR model is used to describe the integration of technology into learning pedagogy. This model is sometimes viewed as a staircase, as depicted here, but the levels are not necessarily sequential. Each can be chosen independently to suit a lesson (H.L., 2017). The SAMR model aims to capture how technology can be used in teaching and learning practices.
In this article, I will discuss the first two steps in the SAMR model and how they can be applied in your teaching. Continue reading
I have been an English Language Teacher for 20 years. When I started my career, I didn’t think it would take much effort to teach others something I had learnt during my childhood and teenage years. I could even make some “easy” money while I was at it! “How hard could it be?” I thought to myself.