Have you ever heard of the SWOT analysis? It comes from the Administration and Management of a business. This technique is credited to Albert Humphrey, who led this research project at Stanford University in the 60s, using data from many top companies. His goals failed at the time, but the SWOT analysis had yet a lot to give. I have been reading a lot of management strategy and company and personal administration books, and I came across Eduardo Ferraz (2018), who has more than thirty years of experience with...

“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...

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...

The other day I came across a box of notes written by my students at the end of term. During a while I used to systematically ask for feedback from my students and I had a lesson ready for that for all the levels and age groups that I taught, from young learners to adults. The very last activity was the feedback note, which my students wrote both in Portuguese and in English, whichever language they felt more comfortable with. They were free not to sign their notes...

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about giving and receiving feedback. One of the reasons for that was a conversation with my friend Priscila Mateini on receiving negative feedback and dealing with failure. In addition, because of the nature of my job as a Celta tutor, I'm constantly giving feedback to teachers. Some of what I'm going to write about focuses on feedback after lesson observations, but a lot of it can be applied to other areas of teaching as well. A trainer once told me that one of...

Last weekend I took part in an online professional development event organized by EFL Talks, called 10 in 10 for YOU. The idea was to have questions asked by teachers answered in 10 minutes (each), using 10 slides (videos of all the 40 talks will be made available in the website if you want to check them out.) I was thrilled that the organizers invited me to answer one of the questions. And my question was just that: “Do teachers need better feedback?” It’s difficult to answer such question, because...

It is over four months today since I last posted an article on the blog. 2015 was not particularly what I'd call a smooth year due to a lot of reasons; however, since it is important to focus on the gains rather than the losses, despite the bumps along last year's path, it's time to roll up our sleeves again and get ready for a new year! I'm still enjoying some much deserved vacation, but reflecting on our beliefs and practices is (or at least should be) a non-stop force, that...

While technology has become a powerful tool to share information, talking to people face-to-face still remains unrivalled. Enjoying a meal together or connecting with others through a handshake --- or even a few words, creates a synergy that promotes feelings of trust and collaboration;  it helps us build stronger relationships and a feeling of belonging. Conferences are mostly about all this energy flow that creates a unique learning environment by bringing people closer together. Highlight #1: Pronunciation: A cool activity that you can do with your students is ask them...

It’s funny to think about how the relationship between teachers and students has changed. Some years ago, the teacher would simply tell a student off and then s/she would study harder or so, even parents would support the teacher. Nowadays things are different. Feedback has to be well thought about. Anyway, define what feedback is first. Hattie and Timplerley [2003] from the University of Auckland defined that feedback is the information provided by the teacher regarding aspects of students’s performance or understanding. They claim that a teacher can provide...

Students taking a course in a foreign language very frequently bring with them a world of expectations and needs – in both personal and professional contexts – that they want to be met in the classroom. Those expectations and needs, however, can many times be beyond what can be achieved within a semester of studies. It is then many times up to the teacher to help learners align their expectations and help them become more aware of what they can achieve in the short and long run, and...

Checking exercises is so deeply ingrained in our teaching practice that we seldom give it a thought. Asking students to report back after a small-group activity is also common practice ever since the boom of the communicative approach.  But are we making the best use of classroom time or could we just be doing it for the sake of habit? Just last week, I was talking to a teacher I know about a great lesson she had delivered when we caught ourselves discussing just that. It dawned on us...

There have been a lot of pendulum swings in our profession since the early 90s, but the teaching of writing seems to be a bit of an exception. Compared to, for example, the sibling rivalry between PPP vs. task-based learning, the half-hearted nod of approval translation’s finally starting to get or, say, the recent comeback of formulaic language, the principles underlying the teaching of writing have remained relatively unscathed from ELT’s constant quest for the latest craze. We owe this, to a certain extent at least, to Ron White’s and...

I got a message one of these days which said “No matter what’s happening. CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY. Don’t focus on what’s wrong. Find something positive in your life!” by Joel Osteen, and that made think about being a teacher and assessing students. We have just had our mid-term tests in the school and that’s the time we have formal tests, we correct them, we make a balance of their performance up to now in the semester, give feedback to students and concentrate our efforts on possible remedial work...

As the end of the year approaches, several students, teachers, school managers and parents may be coming to the conclusion that what was done and learnt throughout the year, or the term, was not enough. In other words, some students will fail their courses. And so, what happens next? How to deal with failure? For obvious reasons, I’ll just deal with ELT here, but the “arguments” may well apply to other school subjects. First of all, I believe that depending on which hat you are wearing, you might see...

Traditionally, tests and examinations evaluate how students perform in terms of learning outcome. However in a learner-centred education system, it is more important to monitor students' learning processes and to give them direct feedback. Such feedback can help students learn more efficiently; and if used correctly, feedback can function as a very powerful tool to motivate students to learn. Consequently, monitoring students' learning processes demands the teacher's 'awareness and control' (or metacognition) of his/her own teaching. According to Professor Yuen Kwong ( 2001)  “Monitoring students' thinking processes, giving them feedback...

Here I am, in the middle of a semester, catering for lessons, teachers, groups, students and an ICELT programme when a fellow teacher came to me and asked me about lesson observations. Lessons observations might be feared by some teachers, but they are such a fantastic tool for development, both for the observer and the teacher. As long as the atmosphere is kept concerning a developmental path, there is nothing to be afraid of. The very nature of a lesson observation is to share best practices. Whenever we teach we...

We often discuss the challenges of giving feedback and how important it is to let people know how they are doing. As language teachers, we talk about feedback to students, addressing their performance inside and outside the class, covering features of language and behaviour. We believe that students can use this information to become more competent and proficient. As trainers, we discuss the effects and the importance of feedback to teachers and how it can influence one’s professional development. However, when it comes to being on the other...

Very soon, I will celebrate my 25th teaching anniversary. This got me thinking about the beginning of my career, what was different then, what is still rather similar and especially how differently (or similarly) I used to teach. How have all these years influenced and shaped the way I teach today? To answer these questions I can rely on my memory and perceptions, as well as those of my students and of those who observed me. It’d be great, and probably enlightening, if I could compare the past...

I found it interesting that Vinicius Nobre in his last post wrote about how  social media and professional image are being watched when considering a person for  a job.  Actually, as professionals, ALL of us are being watched ALL the time, no matter where we stand. As a CELTA tutor I find that besides preparing teachers in terms of knowledge, and helping them perfect their teaching skills, I am also responsible for giving them feedback on inappropriate behavior, and helping them see what they need to achieve to become...