“Dear teacher, I’d like to say I have never forgotten your lessons and I’m grateful you have inspired me to follow this path.” This is part of a message I received last month. It is from a student I had over 20 years ago and who is now a successful teacher of English. I still remember her in my lessons, her brilliant compositions and perfect handwriting. She was a quiet student who I have never forgotten and reading her message made my eyes well up. Many of us have received these...

Have you ever used Jing for anything in your language teaching experience? Have you ever heard of it? I am asking you these questions because I have been suggesting the use of this nice tool in my educational technology workshops for over 7 years now. But it's still interesting to notice that a lot of teachers all over the country have actually never heard of it, let alone use it. But don't worry, this is not an ad. Jing is actually a free tool by Techsmith, which makes it even nicer, isn't...

Criticism hurts. Hence, it can be stressful, tense and sometimes traumatic. Still, it is such a natural part of life, including professional life, that knowing how to make the best out of it is an important skill for us to keep emotionally healthy. Below I list a few aspects to consider and that can prove useful in our field. Criticism or feedback? We are faced with criticism on a regular basis and no matter where it comes from, we have to learn if it is meant to be...

This two-part post is a summary of some of the dilemmas I have faced as an observer since 1994, when I sat in on another teacher's lesson for the first time. My intention is to raise a few (hopefully) relevant questions without necessarily proposing any easy - or complex - answers or solutions. I will use the pronoun you to invite you to either wear your observer's hat or put yourself in an observer's shoes. For the sake of reader-friendliness, I will alternate between he and she when referring...

One of my favourite areas to research and study is feedback and the impact that the contribution of others have in teacher development. In this text I will focus on three different features feedback may take depending on tone, intention or professional relationship of those involved: affection, assertiveness and aggression. In general terms, Bill Gates helped us spread the idea that teachers need 'real feedback' to support them in growing and doing their jobs better, as opposed to having a vague comment on their work that will not contribute constructively, possibly causing...

I have recently prepared and given a session about feedback and it seems that there isn't a formula to follow. However, as Ken Blanchard said: “Feedback is the breakfast of champions”. In my opinion, it is extremely difficult to have actual learning without having feedback. Therefore, what is the aim of feedback? After doing a lot of research, I came up with an answer: it is to bring about self-awareness and improvement. (Gower, R. Phillips, D. & Walters, S. 2005). Thus, what techniques can be used? Do you think it depends...

As I said in my previous post on lesson observation, I don’t see lesson observation as police work, i.e. observers should never simply walk into teachers’ classes unannounced to observe them. Therefore, the way I see it, observation should always be done in three stages: pre-observation meeting (when observer and observed discuss the group, the plan, the class etc.), observation (in which observer sits in on the whole class, not just part of it), and post-observation meeting (when observer and observed discuss the class in question). This month, I’d...

Durante a cerimônia de encerramento dos Jogos Olímpicos do Rio de Janeiro, transmitida ao vivo para o mundo inteiro, o Brasil deu mais uma prova de que o nosso povo é capaz de realizar grandes feitos. O espetáculo estava uma lindeza só e tudo transcorria maravilhosamente bem: apresentações impecáveis dos nossos melhores artistas, espetáculos de luz e som, coreografias de encantar a vista...

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a developing teacher must be in want of feedback. Well, that is what leads many teacher educators to plan feedback sessions, invest on provoking reflection and action. It is also what moves many teachers to ask for feedback, willing to grow. I strongly believe constructive feedback has helped me become more aware of my own strengths and weaknesses. Also, all feedback moments I have had so far and the research I have been carrying out have been helping me improve both they way I receive and...

[caption id="attachment_4644" align="aligncenter" width="433"] Soldier vs Scout (illustrations shown by Galef, 2016)[/caption] Soldiers stand their ground with all they've got. The enemies and their subversive ideas must not be allowed in. Death to the infidels! Grrrrr! Scouts are also important in a war, but they play quite a different role: they have to survey the land, learn what it is like, its obstacles and possibilities, taking reality in as it is. That’s how Julia Galef described two mindsets earlier this year in her TEDx talk in Pennsylvania. She says it’s...