Low cost attitudes to improve your teaching

At the beginning of a New Year we usually make resolutions for different areas of our lives. As with other New Year’s resolutions, such as giving up smoking or doing more exercise, we teachers also think of  improving our language or teaching skills. These will definitely require a certain amount of self-discipline and in some cases, money.

However, here are some ideas to consider that will empower you at little or no cost, and make you and your classes more interesting:

A)   Students appreciate a well informed teacher, one who can provide examples from what is happening in the world, bring topics they can talk about into class. So read a paper, or at least what comes out on the net, watch a TED talk, visit an exhibition, go to the movies, see a play. All but reading the news, the  rest can be done on weekends with your friends and family, killing two birds with one stone.  If you want to make it even better, get your students to do the same. Make them co-responsible for sharing their experiences in class via a speech, a class discussion, or a piece of writing.


B)   Organize a weekly, or monthly discussion group with your colleagues to share your views on an article on teaching. Google what is bugging you and you will find zillions of articles and sites, like this one. Choose one. In your group, think of how you can use these ideas in class.

C)   Watch a webinar, or take an online course. You can find many on the net.  An advantage of learning online is that you can study at your own pace.

What is the secret if you want these ideas to become true?

First, choose what is possible for you to do. When we are too ambitious, we bite off more than we can chew. Study your daily routine and see where you can set aside the amount of time you need to do one of the above activities. Be realistic. Ask yourself if at this time you won’t be too tired, and if no one is going to interrupt you.  I know people who prefer to get an early night’s sleep to rise and do this in the wee hours of the morning with a good cup of coffee.  I also know of others who do this in the dark of the night.  The key is PLANNING this time. Evaluate it if you find it is not working out, and find another option before abandoning it. Remember, it takes time and perseverance for routine to set in.  But when it does, and you see the benefits, you won’t regret it.

Hope you achieve your New Years’ resolution effectively and within your budget.

Remember to share your achievements with us.

Debora Schisler

Debora Schisler , M.A. in Applied Linguistic, PUC-SP is an experienced teacher and teacher educator. Started her career at Associação Alumni , founded SEVEN Idiomas and today is head of Teacher Courses, and Exams at SEVEN. She is CELTA and ICELT tutor ; Centre Exams Manager and Team Leader for Cambridge English Assessment.

  • Indra Barrios Lasso
    Posted at 11:41h, 20 janeiro Responder

    Thanks for the advice Débora. It’s always rewarding to hear we can still be better at no cost.

    • Debora Schisler
      Debora Schisler
      Posted at 12:22h, 20 janeiro Responder

      Hi Indra. I find myself telling my students “less is best” all the time….I really think we sometimes outlandish ideas which never get off the ground. It’s an art to keep things simple. AS you work with Spanish too, I’d be interested in knowing where one can find webnars in this language.

  • Higor Cavalcante
    Posted at 12:11h, 20 janeiro Responder

    Hi Debora,

    First of all, happy new year! 🙂

    These are all very interesting ideas, and I wish teachers would really try and implement them. There is so much teachers can do in the way of development completely for free that it’s really a shame more teachers just… don’t. I’m sharing your post with my students and friends, OK?

    I hope to see you soon!

    • Debora Schisler
      Debora Schisler
      Posted at 12:17h, 20 janeiro Responder

      Happy New Year to you too Higor.Let me know which of the ideas they implemented…I’m curious. Drop by for a cup of coffee!

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