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”...

First of all, I’d like to send a warm hug to everyone who is reading this post. We have been living under stressful moments due to an emergency lockdown caused by the COVID-19. As you know, and based on your own needs, families require your full attention, exceptionally now. You are no longer “only” teaching a subject or a content, you are giving them as much of your attention as possible. In my opinion, this is what ‘emergency remote teaching’ is all about. Nurturing, not only our students but...

March is here! It’s time to start thinking about how to bring St. Patrick’s Day into our schools and classes. Needless to mention how important this date is when we talk about cultural aspects of the English language. After all, many English-speaking countries celebrate it. Therefore, many schools and teachers in Brazil – and in other parts of the world - try to immerse their students in a St. Paddy’s experience. Well, at least they should… I told a fellow teacher I had been writing this post and she...

Students’ real-world contact with English plays hands down a more realistic role in the development of their skills, rather than the few hours they spend in the classroom. Taking this into account, it is high time teachers worked as mediators between learners and their (desirable) daily exposure to the language. But is it enough to just tell students to do something at home, such as “listen to songs in English more often” or “watch films and series with original audio and English subtitles”? We don’t think it is. So,...

Have you ever changed your lesson plan (or part of it) halfway through due to students’ lack of engagement? And have you ever regretted changing it because students asked you to do something different in class? If you answered yes for both questions, you face the same dilemma that we do; which is how much of the lesson plan it is fine to adapt in order to please our students’ imminent needs. Let’s face it: English isn’t generally taken so seriously by students (and their parents) as much as other...

Before we start, click on the player above and enjoy this song while you enjoy your reading! I guarantee it will make the experience a lot more fun! :) Some years ago, acclaimed director Steven Spielberg said he thought the superhero film genre would die out. Much has been said about the possible downfall of this movie genre. However, Captain Marvel is already a massive box office hit and all the hype revolving around the release of upcoming Avengers: Endgame has got people really eager to see what the...

Ken Robinson defines creativity as "the process of having original ideas that add value". A new school year begins, energies are renewed and teachers are full of enthusiasm for a new challenge ahead. It is in these moments that I always propose that creativity does not have to stop. Let us maintain the creativity we had when we were relaxed and with a clear mind, and let us not lose it as the frenzy of the year starts. I believe creativity is a fundamental pillar for teaching development, if not,...

For the past few months, I have been proudly sharing a bit of my reflections as a teacher, and this has been bringing me great joy. I never thought I would be able to write long texts, since my younger self has met a number of cruel teachers who consistently said I lacked creativity, and my writing was mediocre. Well, here I am. Today, however, I bring a slightly different topic, just because I have met a number of brilliant teachers since last July, when I had the opportunity...

I have worked in ELT for about a decade and, therefore, I have delivered hundreds of reading lessons. It is undeniable that many textbooks authors have been doing their best to come up with interesting and relevant topics that work wonders to introduce grammar and vocabulary. However, I often feel that part of our job as teachers is to always put ourselves in the students’ positions. For this reason, I frequently ask myself: “If I were a student, would I enjoy reading this text?” And truth be told,...

If you have been teaching teens for the past years you have probably noticed how attached they are to their mobiles or tablets. To say that they love technology is an understatement. Playing video games, watching TV series and films or listening to music are some of the usual activities they perform in their free time and they all involve technology. But technology is not the only thing they are interested in. Take, for instance, teenagers who practise sports or even go to a dance school. Would it not...

  Though the maker movement has been around for a long time now, and if we consider Dewey, Papert, among other educators, we'd say it's been around for decades! If we go event further and look at makerspace as those garages where kids used to work with their parents on projects, fix things and solve a problem, it's been really there for a long time.  However, the so-called maker movement in Brazil is really getting traction right now. Schools are making budgets, considering options to innovate, to change learning...

At the beginning of a new semester, learners are usually excited to get started, enthusiastic about learning and with high hopes of finally achieving that much sought-after fluency. As the course unfolds, so does life: learners have to juggle work, school and their own personal lives, coping with everything at the same time. And as that happens, one of the most common comments I hear from my learners is that they wish they had (more) time to study English, do homework, listen to podcasts, watch the news, you...

Creativity is one of the trendy words nowadays when we talk about education and work. It is usually related to innovation and it is considered one of the most important skills a person should have in the workplace in order to solve problems and come up with new ideas. “Think out of the box”, “Step out of your bubble”, “Take risks” are some of the advice business articles on creativity offer. It is so valued that it is frequently mentioned as an essential 21st century skill students should...

We want to be called teachers. Although the word educator fits perfectly, I still prefer teacher.  It is the title that is written before my name in my college diploma.  When I graduated from college, it became my identity.  It defines what I do and who I am. Teachers receive an education that is different from other professionals in the field of education. In the Portuguese language, teacher is a title, too, and I intend to keep it. For a long time, though, I tried to make my students...

If you had been my student at around 2010 on of your complaints would have been that I never used songs in my lessons. Earlier in my career I used songs quite frequently, in that gap-fill let's-kill-some-time kind of way. However, as I became more experienced, I realised that this kind of activity is not very useful. As I had no idea how to actually use songs appropriately I decided to simply stop using them. Fast-forward to a few years later, when my colleagues and I had just come...

Então, mais um ano se passou. Se você for como eu, vai olhar para as resoluções do ano anterior (aquelas que você escreveu ainda em 2014) e ver que não conseguiu cumprir boa parte delas. A tão sonhada forma física, o curso de desenho artístico e a viagem à Fernando de Noronha em 2015, por exemplo, serão transcritas diretamente para a agenda de 2016, ipsi literis. Infelizmente, ainda não foi desta vez. Mas como diz o poeta (neste caso, eu mesmo): a vida é como um fone de ouvido dentro da...

No matter how much we love our profession, there will always be that mind-numbing task we have to carry out. To me, that’s marking a seemingly endless pile of multiple-choice/short answer tests, the kind even a computer could grade. However, there is always that outside-the-box answer that will cheer me up. The web has no shortage of such examples. [caption id="attachment_3547" align="aligncenter" width="455"] Me too, Frankie, me too. -- Source: Distractify[/caption] The answers students give may be creative, funny or just oh-so-very-wrong, but there might be more to them than...

Hi! This month I want to finish sharing with you the remaining three teaching techniques I recently got to know as I searched the Internet for innovation. The idea is to create affordances in class so that students feel compelled to learn. Below I briefly refer to remaining three teaching techniques. The previous three were the topic of last month’s post. 4. Gamification: ‘Gamification’ is another way of saying learning through play - a class procedure effective at any age since it keeps students motivated. The use of games is usually considered appropriate...

As we come to the end of the year, our classes are also about to finish. Hence, the time for us teachers to start planning the end of the semester has come. We end up getting so busy organizing reviews, writing tests, testing and assessing students, writing reports and/or report cards, providing students with feedback on their work we sometimes forget to “give students opportunities to reflect on what they have learnt and experienced in the lesson/term/year” (Emma Gore-Lloyd, 2014). I first heard about the different phases of a...

For the past year I've been interested and have intensely studied, researched and explored the Maker Movement. First, just out of curiosity as I was being fed through my Twitter stream (remember I mentioned in other posts how Twitter is still my number one source of inspiration and daily doses of professional development?). The feeling that the Maker movement just made total sense to any classroom got even stronger after attending Giselle Santos's presentation on the topic at the BRAZTESOL International Conference in João Pessoa. Fate or destiny, the...

We all love reading in my family - my husband and I are real bookworms. I myself also love books - I buy so many, I wonder if I’ll ever have the time to read all of them in this lifetime. I started buying books for my baby daughter long before she was born. Even before she was able to hold things up, we gave her books so that she could play with them. And she had her own library in her room – of course, she was not...

Music and teaching go back a long way in my career. In the beginning there were the Beatles, the Carpenters, Carly Simon, The Police, and any other band that my students happened to enjoy. We have all experienced the incredible mood-altering power of music and we've seen it melt away a bad mood in our classes. Not only does music help set the right tone for a class but it also relieves stress and helps students concentrate. But one question I often ask myself is how we can...

Creativity is certainly a desired trait for teachers to have, especially nowadays, when we have to compete with much more appealing sources of knowledge.  But what is creativity?  Is it innate? Can we do anything to enhance it? Well, these are some of the questions I plan on answering at the next Tesol Convention in João Pessoa, where I will present a workshop titled “Creativity as an asset in Language Teaching”.  This article is a very brief summary of some of the information I plan on sharing with the...

Around this time, teachers and students all over Brazil are returning to their English classes. It’s time to check whether kids remember grammar topics and vocabulary or not after two months on vacation. Preparing ELT classes demands more creativity at this first moment than during the year. Teachers need to engage students in the learning process again. Games are taken for granted as meaningful and enjoyable activities for students at any level.  In my career, I have used plenty of them to motivate kids and teenagers to use language....

It all starts when you are organizing the room where you teach. And there are many questions we should ask ourselves when doing that… Am I going to have a big table or many small tables? A board? Chairs? Desks? Posters? Pictures? Books? Games? A stereo? A projector? A computer? A cell phone? What about seating arrangements? Students have to feel their room is a unique place which will also help them in their learning process and will nurture their creativity. Creativity strikes again when you are planning your...