Category Archives: self reflection

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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Career Tips for Shy/Introverted ESL Teachers and Students

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In general, Western society favours people who are extroverted and outgoing. This bias can be seen in multiple areas of daily life. At school and work, it is apparent in the emphasis placed on teamwork and open workspaces. In language, it is evident in the positive connotations associated with those who are outgoing/extroverts (e.g., approachable, the life of the party) and negative connotations for those who are shy/introverts (e.g., sheepish, wallflower).

Personally, I am an introvert. I prefer calmer environments and get depleted by lots of stimulation. I was once very shy, and I feared negative social judgment. In this blog, I present three strategies that have helped me cope as I have climbed the TESL professional ladder.

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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!

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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

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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

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Focusing on Student Reflection

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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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Tip for TESL Career Advancement: Be Visible! 

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Are you a part-time ESL/EAP instructor hoping to step into fulltime employment at your institution? If so, you are not alone. Recent evidence shows most ESL/EAP instructors in Canada are sitting in the precarious part time employment boat with you and are hoping to advance.   

Perhaps you are wondering how you can distinguish yourself from the pack? One method of distinguishing yourself is to have workplace visibility. 

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