Category Archives: self reflection

Busting the myths of ESL instruction

Busting some of the myths and assumptions that English language instructors might have, we’re looking back this week at some older blog posts that are still timely. Are there other myths that you have become aware of in your own experience of teaching? After you read these blogs, return here to share in the comments below.


ESL Myths Debunked

Myths about Teaching ESL Learners


View your Career as a “Scavenger Hunt” for “Red Threads”


It’s a reality that many ESL teachers – particularly those in precarious non-full-time roles – feel dissatisfied with their jobs. I have also felt this dissatisfaction. However, before you (or I) decide to quit a teaching position, there are steps that can be taken to try to modify your current role and make it a better fit. In this blog, I relay great advice from Marcus Buckingham, shared in the four-part 2022 HBR IdeaCast podcast series “Find Joy in Any Job,” about pinpointing and exploiting your professional passions – aka “red threads.” 

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One of Us

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The Setup

We were three months into an online class and just past a spike of on-boarding new learners.  At this point, and counting the newer learners, about half of the class relented to turning their cameras on. It was Monday and I had a new grey tie.  I really wanted to show off my new necktie, so I wore – uncharacteristically – a black shirt.

Learners arrived and turned on their cameras, saying “Good morning.  How was your weekend?  Are you feeling any better?” and all that.  One of the first was a lovely woman, a retired teacher and a dedicated student – one of those learners who is, besides punctual and respectful, eager to please and who quietly but assuredly defends the soundness of the instructor’s pedagogical choices. Let me call her Harmony. 

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How Practicing Self-Reflection Works for Both Teachers and Students

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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.

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Back to the Classroom: Lessons in Returning to In-Person Learning

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When we went back to class in March, my students appeared larger than life. More human, tangible. Lots of smiles, welcoming faces, laughter, and excitement. They had a willingness to learn and interact with each other, as well as with the teacher. 

I was curious to see how teaching would function in a “post-COVID-19” period. I was happy to see them in class. 

I developed a learn-as-you-go approach. I didn’t know who would attend on a day-to-day basis and hoped more students of various backgrounds would join. 

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Observation is a new Reflection!


For all ESL teachers, observing other teachers and being observed are not uncommon parts of the job, especially for those who are at the early stages of teaching. Many novice and inexperienced teachers wouldn’t mind it; on the contrary, they appreciate the opportunity to observe more seasoned teachers.

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SOS: Tackling Mid-Career Malaise

People sometimes joke about having a midlife crisis yet the truth is, research shows midlife (i.e., approximately in your 40s) is when people really do experience the lowest satisfaction in their personal and professional lives. This is a stage of life during which many have the highest financial burdens and the most at-home demands.

Canadian TESL professionals also experience malaise mid-career. In a study on the reflections of three mid-career ESL teachers in Canada, one participant noted she had “gone a little stale.” Another felt she had “plateaued professionally.” Experts say the signs that you are experiencing malaise can include feeling lethargic, disinterested, and unmotivated. You may be asking yourself questions like Is this truly what I’m meant to be doing with my life?

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Growing Your Career During the Winter Months

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Guest Contributor: Catherine Crawford

Winter is a dormant season in Canada where the cold weather brings nature into hibernation. As such, our careers can also tend to fall into a period of stagnation during this time of year. It’s cold, dark and not many people are feeling energized compared to other times of the year. So, if you are trying to grow your career, how do you ensure it doesn’t suffer during these winter blues? Here are 4 career tips to implement this winter season:  

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2021 – A look back

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As the year 2021 wraps up, the Blog Admin Team want to wish everyone a restful holiday and the very best for the new year!  We hope you enjoy our look back at some of our favourite blog posts from 2021.

Happy Holidays!  Beth, Jessica, Claire, Elyse, Sarah, & Gordon

Enhancing Reading Comprehension II: Structured Experience Techniques 

In this post Gonul offers some great ideas on how to get the most out of text readings in the classroom. Pre-reading activities and discussions are valuable ways to help students make sense of what they’re reading, grasp the core message of the text, and more easily draw on the information presented. The great thing about structured-experience techniques is that the students can be more hands-on in their efforts, while the teacher is there to provide guidance if needed.  Continue reading


Focusing on Student Reflection

          Image by Gerd Altmann, Pixabay

Do you encourage and provide opportunities for learner self-reflection in your classes? When and how often?   

I like to give students opportunities during the term (and of course PBLA prescribes it).  But it always seems especially pertinent as the year closes out – whether it is the end of the school year or the end of the calendar year. So, as 2021 comes to a close, I thought I’d share some self-reflection activities that I have used and that you might like to try in your classes. These are good for upper-intermediate and higher levels, including EAP. 

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