You may have been flooded by positive messages on social media talking about how this pandemic is an opportunity to develop new projects, learn a new language, exercise more and drink two liters of water. This kind of toxic positivity is certainly not what teachers need. If you are looking for a flower power kind of vibe, this article is probably not for you. I think the pandemic sucks. I am truly sorry for my lack of reassuring demeanor in a time of need. The thing is, I am...

As I was relaxing after a long productive day working from home for the 5th day in a row, for the 1st time in my life, I came across a Simon Sinek’s short video where he explained why ‘These Are Not Unprecedented Times’. Most of us are feeling as if we were living in a parallel dimension, as if life as we used to live was put on hold and we are somehow experiencing a different setting – perhaps to find out what we are made of… Anyways, he...

In 2019 we had the opportunity to work together on different projects. Such projects involved writing for the Richmond blog, going live on different social media websites and delivering an online course for teachers. We’d like to start by commenting on the online course experience. Needless to say how this course enriched us. While organizing the contents we decided to include in the course, we studied a lot more about so many relevant issues that are undoubtedly pertinent to our daily work. In this sense, the need to research...

As 2020 begins, teachers all around the world get ready to receive their students for a new term, and I am no different.. As I write, I am enjoying my last days of the summer break, and yet I am already mentally planning how I can make my school year the best one again. That means deciding which practices I would like to include in my professional routine, and which ones I should adapt or eliminate from my daily lesson planning. Then, at the beginning of January, I decided...

As a teenager, I had a teacher who ‘translated’ our names into English. João would become John, Mariana would be Mary and other questionable, less obvious, choices also took place. Mind you, this was a substitute teacher, so we perhaps had two or three lessons with her. As much as I’ve never truly embraced my name, being called James felt very uncomfortable. Years later as a teacher, I had unconsciously vowed never to change my students’ names, unless that was something they asked me to. Joãos would be Joãos...

On the last September 7th, a group of teachers got to meet at the incredible venue of Casa Thomas Jefferson in Brasilia. I know, in the middle of a holiday, getting on a plane and going on the search for professional development. It was another incredible edition of the conference called BrElt on the Road, brilliantly organized by Barbara Furtado, Priscila Bordon, Bruno Andrade, and Eduardo de Freitas. Filled with talks, workshops, and plenaries, this conference was certainly memorable. But I’m here today to talk about one plenary in...

It’s the beginning of a new term. You’re chosen to teach an upper-intermediate/advanced group. You’re excited to meet your new students, you plan a welcome activity so as to start off with the right foot. You enter the room, start the class and ask your new students to introduce themselves. And suddenly one particular student starts speaking. Their pronunciation is nearly flawless, they use a wide range of vocabulary and demonstrate control of simple and complex grammatical forms. And one inevitable thought crosses your mind: “This student speaks...

Year: 1999. Group: Basic 1. Place: Uberaba, MG – Brasil. Seventeen-year-old Ana Carolina stepped into a classroom for the first time. Young, restless, feeling entitled by her recently acquired C2 diploma and, most importantly: raw. Fluent, for sure. After one year of isolation from all Portuguese speakers in a cultural exchange program before cell phones or the Internet were even available, the mountaneer dialect flowed as if it were her own. Scared, she left the students in class in order to catch a breath and drink some water,...

Monday, 6 p.m., the sun peeking through the blinds in the brick and mortar language school building in Brazil. The teacher enters the room carrying a bag of props, flashcards, and her tape recorder. The recorder being to her as precious as a map to a Geography teacher: “Hi, John Peter! How are you today?” asked the teacher in a high-pitched voice. “I’m fine, thanks. And you?” replied the monotoned student. The automatic, “I’m fine, too,” followed. “So… Let’s begin! Open your books to page 50,” she continued while rewinding and...

My third piece of advice is to cultivate a sense of empathy - to put yourself in other people's shoes - to see the world from their eyes. Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world. Barack Obama Empathy is 'the art of stepping imaginatively into the shoes of another person, understanding their feelings and perspectives, and using that understanding to guide your actions'. (Krznaric, 2014) Because of the many online groups we are part of, it's much easier to find ourselves in situations where our empathy is...