As you will probably agree, inspiration comes from the most unusual places. Just now, I felt so moved by a Netflix documentary about the jazz genius Miles Davis that I had to come here and write about the lessons I believe his career may bring to our professional development as teachers.   “The Musings of Miles”: Don’t “blow” theory. Miles started his career as a trumpeter in his teens and went to Juilliard, one of the world’s most prestigious performance art schools. Despite criticizing it for being “too white”...

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...

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...

“If you want to master something, teach it. A great way to learn is to teach.” Richard Feynman - theoretical physicist This was Edutopia’s 24th of June Facebook post which was shared as a “tip” on my Instagram stories on the same day! I wrote: This is my motto, and it is, it has been like that since I can remember. When I first started teaching, back in 2004, I remember I had a major problem with inversions. Yes, me, the now called ‘inversion lover’. When I started teaching advanced...

[caption id="attachment_8629" align="alignright" width="227"] Teacher development and cleaning products -- the way my mind works![/caption] Teaching a language, especially when you’re a novice, can be really daunting. In fact, the word “daunting” immediately brings to mind a Duck commercial that was constantly on when I studied in Australia. The voice-over would go, “Cleaning your bathroom can seem like a daunting task”, and the small bathroom would grow huge with the woman (why is it always a woman, by the way?) tripping over herself. That nerve-racking image of an evergrowing...

We hear about CPD, the acronym for Continuous Professional Development, all the time. Although CPD is not only about taking courses, they are certainly a prototypical concept and the number of courses aimed at teachers has been increasing steadily, or at least this is the impression I have. When it comes to courses, one of the most common questions we hear is “Is this or that course worth it?” or “Should I do this course or not?” The answers, however, are definitely not as simple as the questions....

The academic year is just around the corner and every now and then we tend to start the New Year facing some challenges and the kind. Being an educator is not an easy task, dealing with stressful situations such as routine, and, to add insult to injury, many of us will have to perform a juggling act, e.g. work in different schools, in order to make ends meet. Looking for perfection should be the main aim, right? It is important, however, to bear in mind that there is no...

This is a fairly broad topic with a myriad of issues, such as the observer and observee’s attitudes towards having his/her lessons assessed. There is also the matter of how many times a teacher should be observed in a term, and when (before/after tests, two weeks after the first lesson, etc), having in mind the assessment factor. Attitude The attitude changes according to the observation purposes: development, (quick) problem-solving, assessment, etc. When a teacher is being observed for developmental reasons, usually he or she tends to be more open...

How often do you revisit and reexamine your beliefs about teaching and learning and about yourself as a teacher? It is easy to find fault in other people's beliefs or practices: “So and So still operate with the concept of X. Don't they know research shows no evidence it works?”; “How can anyone still use the Y methodology in the 21st century, when our students are so different from decades ago?”; or even “There goes So and So again on and on about the latest teaching fad with...

Scene 1: Big conference in Brazil. The speaker, a Brazilian, goes onto the stage to begin her plenary session. While she speaks, you notice she makes some mistakes, pronunciation mistakes, grammar mistakes, but the content of her presentation is relevant and she manages to get her message across. At the end of her talk, you hear teachers, the vast majority of them Brazilians, commenting on the mistakes and criticising the presenter. Scene 2: Same big conference. The presenter on the stage is not a native speaker of English, and...

Vinicius Diamantino organized a much needed online panel* about how to deliver killer presentations at ELT and educational events. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to participate as planned, but what follows is what I had prepared: how to write effective abstracts and summaries that will get you accepted as a speaker in the first place. Do, though, watch the free webinar ( gMX55xT46244F6H ) with Claire Venables and Cecilia Lemos because they make the points much better! They also talk about the delivery of the presentation itself with invaluable tips...

We all want a positive work environment where we feel safe to share our ideas, projects, concerns, and challenges… where we can offer and seek advice aiming at a greater good: helping learners reach their goals and becoming the best possible professional we can become. Right – that’s a lovely goal. How can we make it happen? First and foremost, we have to remind ourselves that our professional development is our own responsibility – nobody else’s. Jordan Catapano’s article on Professional Development and the Teacher Leader can give us great...

BRAZ-TESOL, Brazil’s largest association of English language teaching professionals, needed a video that explained what it stands for, so I made one. My qualifications for making the video? None. Learning as I went, I ended up with something that has made me very proud.  Of course making a video when you’re not a professional is not a simple task, so it took me (what it felt like) forever to get it finished. I would get home from work and spend as many hours on it as I had...

This is a post for all of you who are planning to attend the 16th BRAZ-TESOL International Conference (16th BTIC) in Caxias do Sul, RS, in July, but don’t know where to start. In case you haven’t heard of the event, BRAZ-TESOL is the largest ELT association in Brazil and its international conference brings together speakers and attendees of all over the country and the world in 4 days of professional development and relationship building. (Rumor has it that BTIC might just be the largest ELT conference in...

When I earned my degree in Linguistics from college many years back, the only thing I had in mind was continuing teaching English and preparing my own materials. At the time it seemed to be a sensible thing to do. So, I kept teaching one-on-one classes for many years and I enjoyed every bit of it. I was committed to helping my students, some of whom I taught for many years. Nonetheless, I felt that I was missing out on something. I took courses, I read books, I...

End of year, spring cleaning, and I ended up finding many old pictures and documents which were a trip down memory lane. I wondered what I would say to that young Natalia, who was about to start her career as an English teacher, or to anyone who is starting in the career for that matter. Stepping out of the classroom and back in again: my last day of secondary school, 6 months before my first day as a teacher. Keep an organized record of everything you do career-wise. This first...

I have been an English teacher for almost 23 years. I also worked as a pedagogical coordinator at language schools for many years. After all this time, these experiences have helped me understand what students needed to get the most out of speaking activities and how teachers could help them take part in speaking activities successfully. When I started working as a teacher, I was fifteen and could not tell if the way I was teaching was actually helping my students achieve their goals and mine, as well. Some...

If so, how has it helped you to know your learners better? And furthermore, how has it benefitted your learners’ experience? Going back to the two perspectives explored on my last post (richmondshare.com.br/its-time-to-start-over/), here are some of the choices I have made so far: Leaving our comfort zone I have been working mainly with peer observation. It has proven to be a powerful tool not only to foster both cohesiveness and trust among teachers, but also to shed a light on aspects of our teaching that we cannot perceive on...

I had a haircut the other day and got to talking to the hairdresser, an energertic 31-year-old professional who I’ve been going to for a few years now. [Don’t worry, I haven’t gone mad(der) and won’t be rambling on about beauty on a teacher-oriented blog. The relevance of the chat will become evident soon, I promise.] **** Me: My friend’s mother, who’s a hairdresser too, is thinking of moving from Rio. What’s the market like here*? Is it small, saturated? What do you think? *(N.B.: Here is a city that is...

On the morning of July 19th, 1692, 71-year-old Rebecca Nurse was convicted and hanged in New Salem, Massachusetts. Her crime? Perhaps quarreling with a neighbor over some trespassing pigs a few years earlier was what triggered several accusations that followed. Being an active member of the community and being known for her good character didn’t save her from what would be known as one of the most senseless cases of hysteria among community members in history. And one might think that her trial and conviction were riddled with...

Earlier this week Elaine Hodgson posted about the pros and cons of self-promotion, raising many important points. I was going to comment on the post, but realized my text got longer than the rules of politeness would allow, so here is my take on self-promotion in ELT, which, I must admit, echoes much of what Elaine has said. Teacher promotion is definitely something we need to discuss. I hear you, sis. This business of self- and peer-promotion in ELT has been bothering me a lot as of late, so...

It might ‘cost you dear’! That is what we generally hear when people talk about investing time and money in learning a foreign language. By the same token, professional teachers are usually judged by how qualified they are in the teaching community and investing time and money on CPD seminars seems pretty much the way to go. On 18th March, I had the opportunity to meet up with brilliantly committed teaching professionals at Braz-Tesol Belo Horizonte Chapter on Teacher’s Development. BTW, well done you on your organisation. I delivered...

[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...

  One of the many things I like about working at an educational institution, be it as a teacher or a s an administrator, is that our work has very clear and well-defined cycles. We finish a semester or year and begin a new one. I don’t think this is true for most professionals. They may finish projects or meet deadlines, but they are not bound to the “year” as we are. In the Southern hemisphere, where our school year really ends at the end of the year, I believe...

One may often hear how expensive it can be to invest time and money in learning a foreign language. However, it is widely known that an institution is usually judged by its teachers and how qualified they are in the teaching community. Consequently, a LOS (Lesson Observation Scheme) is instrumental in providing the academic department with important evidence on a teacher’s performance in class. Further down is an outline of what we usually use at Cultura Inglesa São João del Rei.   Why Lesson Observation Amongst various reasons, one advantage of...