Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year

Hoping and wishing that this new year will bring the best in every aspect. Full of energy and enthusiasm to start  new projects.
My regards to every teacher and student.
Happy New Year!!

Friday, 23 December 2011

Merry Christmas

I want to send a great greeting in this special season to everyone who is one of my followers and to everyone who is always coming and checking this blog. Thanks for the support and all the comments you have left.
I hope that this special day you can share it with the loved ones, with your families, and that the birth of Jesus will fulfill all your wishes and hopes.
Merry Christmas to all of you!!!!

Teacher Julian VM

Monday, 19 December 2011

Keep your files safe with Dropbox

I will be talking in advance, because I have heard about this page long ago, but just until today I have started using it.
Dropbox is a program that you download and it allows to upload your files to internet, so you keep them safe. Probably, until here, nothing new to you. But the good thing of dropbox, that every time you update any file you are uploading to internet (by the way, you just drag and leave the files you want to upload in a folder in your computer. So easy!), your file will be updated on internet, so you can open your file in any computer or cellphone, and you will see the change.
Initially, you have 2 GB, but you earn 250 MB everytime you invite other person and that person accepts to try dropbox.
Honestly, it sounds interesting to me, to keep all my files of my school. But I have to use it and then I can talk based on my experience.
Probably you know this page, or you are already using it and you have your own opinion about it. Or maybe, you know other similar program. If that is the case, I am all ears.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Christmas Idea coming from Philippines

Filipinos have a very beautiful custom for Christmas: creating a ParolSomething I want to do by myself too. But, ¿what is it a parol? Check it on these videos, and I think, it is a good a idea to do with your students.


Wednesday, 14 December 2011

How to start a new year well prepared

I know the new year is still away (not so much though), but before starting a new year of classes, it is good to take into account the following points:

  1. First of all, remember the previous year. It is not just a "gone year". You have to consider the good and bad experiencies you had. Learn from the good ones, and improve them. Learn from the bad ones, just don't repeat them. (Every year is a new one, but always take your last year as your starting point)
  2. Plan ahead. Prepare a good lesson plan for next year. You already have a lot of time in your vacation to give at least one week to prepare all you need. I know... it sounds boring working on your vacation. But, that week you will work, it is an investment for the whole year.
  3. Not just plan your lessons or contents. Also plan for every possible situation that can happen. What if there is one student who can't come to your test. What if you can't be at the school because you are the one sick, do you have a backup strategy?  Just be prepare for all you can encounter during the year, and that you already faced last year.
  4. Have realistic goals. Don't imagine the perfect year, with perfect students. Just be realistic to know that the year won't be perfect, and that there will be student who will need more of your support. But being realistic doesn't mean that you won't plan some new or innovative this new year. Plan at least 2 great ideas to impress anyone next year.
  5. Don't be old fashion. Be ready to change and adjust according to the new characteristics. You have a plan already, ok. But be prepared to fix it, in case you have to fix it.
  6. You have goals, now create goals with your students. Don't let them out of great projects. Ask them what they want for the new year, and create things together. There is nothing more interesting and inspiring than when you are told to be part of that.
  7. Don't forget to study. We are teachers, but it doesn't mean we know all already. Prepare yourself, learn more, study more, create new links or friends. Use technologies to learn from other teachers. Using this blog has been so much helpful for me in order to know other teachers' experiences.

Monday, 12 December 2011

The year ended for me. Time to evaluate

The class has ended for me. The year of working, preparing material, checking works ... well, it ended. The students have vacation, last wednesday was the graduation. And that's it. A year was gone by the wind again. And we don't see how time is so fast. But never so fast to evaluate the whole process.
And I want to do this, to share with you my successes and failures, so you comment, and help me to improve as well.

Let's start with the good things.
  • I had my own classroom
  • I could buy my long-waited projector
  • I got a better mark from my students
  • I applied for a project to get my own small library, and I won.
  • I was awarded for my creativity and innovation
  • I finished two e-learning courses, and two e-workshops, with good marks
  • The students were motivated to work this year
But there are still bad things:
  • I still have problems with classroom managment
  • I still have problems with group works
  • I have been disconnected from my students, at a personal level
  • I still have to work harder on speaking skills
A new year will come, and I hope to get more good news, and less bad news.

Friday, 9 December 2011

The innocence can be so powerful

We think, that just because we are adults, and we have a lot of experience, our views, ideas, or opinions are the only truth, and we don't hear what the children have to say. Their innocence seems to be so silly and weak, but they have the pure wisdom, they don't worry about things, they don't think about things so much, they just do the right things. I say this, because I remember two excellent indian commercials I have seen time ago. I would like to share with you these commercials, and then think what children have to say about solidarity, and how we must work as a real team.


Thursday, 8 December 2011

why to publish a book?

I don't want to talk about "how" to publish a book, because I am still finding information about it, but I would like to talk about "why", which is more important.
Personally, I would like to write a book and I have some ideas, but the question about "why" taking so much effort on a book, when you can find millions of books in bookstores. Well, I will give you some hints.
  • As the saying goes "Write a book. Plant a tree. Have a son."  Well, we have to start with one of them. What I mean to say, we are just passing by in this planet. So we have to leave something for the rest, for the future generations. Doing a book is one way.
  • Through writing a book, we can express what we have inside, the way we see life. It is a great chance to show the world who we are.
  • As teachers, it is a "Must" to have a book. We are creative people, and we must share that with others.
  • The topic, you choose it. It can be about being a teacher, you subject, ideas, experiences, creative things, tales, a novel. It is your choice, but always give a personal touch, because outside, there are hundreds of books like yours already.
  • You are inspiring others, you are inspiring your students. Your students don't want to read? Well, do something, but do it your own. Don't just say "read shakespeare", say "Read My book".
Don't waste your ideas, and be someone who will go beyond borders with your words and thoughts. If you have the chance to write a book, do it.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Is it so hard to learn English?

This is a tricky question, because it can be both, easy and hard. And it will depend on where in the world we are. But let's imagine we are in the furthest country in the world: Chile. And you are surrounded by an ocean or mountains, and the only way to have contact with the English language is by travelling thousands of kilometres.
Is it hard to learn English? In these conditions, yes, so much. How on earth we can learn something that we don't know, we don't see, we can't even practice?
But as I already said, it is a tricky question, because the answer I can give is: "Learning English is very easy", but you have to consider the following aspects:
  1. You must be willing to learn something new, you must be sure that learning English is what you want, not just because it is a trend, but because you really see the potential of learning a new language.
  2. You must consider the time. It needs time to learn something new, and considering that English is a whole new language, it will need a long time. But based on my own experience, I can say that it will take one or two years to learn the basics in a good way.
  3. You must consider the support you will need. Internet is full of pages to learn English, hundreds of courses, but so what. Most of them are boring, and even in real life, going to classes, is boring. And you know why? Because the way the present or help you to learn the language is really useless. You must know what you want to get from learning English, then you will know which is the best course you can take.
  4. Forget what other people think about you. It is true that nowadays, many people are trying to learn English, but there are still a lot of people that will think it is silly, and they will make fun of you if you are practising pronunciation aloud. Forget them, it is your life, your future, and just you know what you want from English.
  5. Take English as a tool, not as a goal. I have seen a lot of people trying to learn English, just to know a new language, and then what? Nothing, because they never consider the reason of learning English.
Life is not easy, but you choose what paths to take, and if learning English is a great tool for you, then learn it.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Prevention is better than cure

The end of the year is near, and no more time for classes. But for some reason, just when it is the end of all, is when the concern about the final marks starts.
I feel a bit worry about this situation because, it is not new for me to face this.
Of course, this is something I already know from the beginning of the year, and I am very clear to say that they have a whole year to work hard and improve their performance. But even though, it is just at the end of the year when everyone is worry about their results.

I feel that this blog has giving me the chance to give my opinion but also, to analyse my own performance. Because I consider all the reasons why things are happening the way they happen. I think it has been my fault not to be more concerned or worried about the situation that happens to my students. And if it is just at the end of the year that they are worried, in the same, I must be worried too. Not now, but during the whole year. But then I think, I have done that job too, of telling and advicing them to work hard, but they must give their part too.
But what do you think? I would like to receive comments and ideas, because I can know some ideas, but I would like to have more.
But as "Good chileans, we always leave all for the last minute".

Saturday, 26 November 2011

What are you evaluating?

I have had the chance to see different kinds of tests from other teachers. I always get ideas from them, because I know I am not perfect, and I must improve my own work. So, the best way is by learning from other teachers.
But sometimes I am worried, because I don't know if I am so different or what, but some of the tests I have seen are weird for me.
I really don't get what they are trying to do, and what they are trying to evaluate.
Maybe you can criticize my way of evaluating, because I put emphasis in listening and reading comprehension. I wish my students can get the main information, they can get the main ideas, keywords, guessing ideas. But other teachers put emphasis in grammar, that students must write perfectly.
For instance. If the activity is like this: Change the following senteces into present continuous.
Then you have this sentence:  I write a book.
And the student writes: I am writeing a book.
Some teachers can give one point to this item, and maybe, they will say it is wrong, because the student wrote "writeing", instead of "writing",
Well, what I do is this: I give two points for this exercise. Because I want to check if my students can get the two most important aspects: the use of the verb To Be, and the ending ING. The student could remember both aspects. But the fact of leaving the letter "e" in the word "writeing", is just a minor detail. If it is me, as a teacher, I will give the two points. For me it is perfect.
Teachers tend to confuse some aspects. Are you evaluating grammar or spelling? Are you evaluating vocabulary or length? Are you evaluating pronunciation, entonation or fluency? Are you evaluating the skill of getting main ideas, or the idea that "just you" consider the main idea?
English as a second language can be like a song. Everyone gets a different feeling from it.
So, as teachers, we have to be precise in what we want to evaluate, and let's not be so hard. If there is just one spelling mistake, we can't consider the whole answer wrong  (unless, the mistake changes the meaning of the word).
English can be similar to mathematic, but let's not be so exact as maths. That is the beauty of the language, every word can have a different meaning to the hearer.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Such a student, such a teacher

I won't say I am an "otaku", but I like japanese animation, and among my favourite ones, is Naruto.
One of the images I like from that "manga", is that one in which you can see Naruto and his two classmates (Sakura and Sasuke), and their teacher Kakashi. And then you can see another picture, of Kakashi (when he was young) with his two classmates, and his teacher, and then another picture of that teacher, and so on.
For those who knows about Naruto, must know the kind of student who is Naruto. He was a very lazy, and hyper student. He was not loved by the rest of the students, actually, the classmates had fears of him.
But when Naruto has Kakashi as his teacher, then in someway, Naruto changed for good, and he had the goal of being the leader of the Village.
Naruto is descended from a line of leaders (Hokages) of that village.

Everytime I remember that picture, I wish to have that kind of teachers, who can inspire me to be the best. Actually, everyone had those kind of teachers. But the real question is ... am I that teacher for my students?  Am I inspiring my students to give their best?

And just now, I have come to the conclusion that my students are the reflection of what I am showing. (I am not lazy, but if I let them be lazy, then I am lazy).

I think I have failed to the goal of forming leaders. For that reason I really must change the way I am working, (Kakashi is not the perfect person, but as a teacher, is one of the best).

It can sound childish, but even this cartoon gives a really deep meaning about teaching.
A new goal for next year will be forming leaders. And I hope someday, I can be a really good leader. If Naruto has that great goal of being Hokage, why not me?

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Evaluation, just to get a mark?

Well, I must say sorry, I know it will sound repetitive, but yes... I have been very busy these days. The end of the year is near, and at least, in Chile, the year school is ending too. Fourth level went home already, and it was sad to say "ok, after four years working with you, today it is the last day I can teach something new to you". But that is life, and it is really so fast. So we must enjoy every day as it is the last day, because, some day, for sure, it will be the last day.
But I don't want to sound emotional. it is just... when the end of the year is near, it means that we have to evaluate our work.
There is a misconception about evaluation. We think that it is just a way to get a mark. But it is really wrong.
It is true we need a way to test the knowledge of the students and get a mark from that. But we don't have to forget that evaluation must be part of the whole process. So at least, we must evaluate three times a year to know the progress of the students' work. But it is not just them, we must evaluate our work too. So let's consider this:
Do you have a diagnosis test for your students?
Do you plan to have a diagnosis test, at least, two or three times a year?
Do you evaluate values, process, actions, interests... not just knowledge?
Do you use your diagnosis tests to improve the work?
Do your students know their improvement?
Do your have your own diagnosis test to know your own improvement as a teacher?
Did you plan your own evaluation at the beginning of the year?
Does any other teacher evaluate your work?
Is it really important to evaluate your performance? or is it just a mere obligation?

I hope as teachers we consider the previous points. Because it is not just an ending part. Evaluation must be an essential part of our work as a feedback to improve our work

Friday, 11 November 2011

Why learning English?

Instead of saying: "why learning English?", I would better say: "why learning a second language? or other languages?
We all know that learning another language, specially known for almost every one in this planet, is the best option we can take the moment we really want to go out from our little personal world. We all know already the importance for business, connectivity, social networks, information, etc. But some students still replay "so what". And here it is true, for a student who has his/her own problems, difficulties at home, living a hard life, having to be a teenager. Do you think they care if they can get information in English, if they can have the same in Spanish? Do you think they care to know people from other countries, when they all have already close friends? Do you think they mind about business if they don't have enough to eat at home?
What is the real purpose of teaching English to them, if they don't see any important reason to learn it?
And the truth is that they are right. And the problem is that we have taught them that English is for business, for communication, for getting information. When we have to teach them than learning a second language is a weird tool, that doesn't have an exact form. Do you remember the bad girl in the movie "Terminator 3"?, when she was creating a new weapon with her hand, depending the situation. Well, English (Second language) is like that too. It is up to the students to know how they will use English. They want it to know a lyrics of a song, ok. They want it to write romantic letters, ok. It is up to them what they want to do with the English language.

I can say that personally, thanks to know English,  I have known many people in my country and around the world. I have travelled to many cities, even going to the Philippines, which was the first and the most amazing experience I have ever lived. And I hope to go back to that nice country. (I send a greeting to the Filipinos for being so kind). No wonder why I have a girlfriend from Philippines.
But that is my experience, my students must find their own experiences in relation with learning a second language.
Just let's not push our students to learn English because we want them to find information, or friends, or business. Just let them know what to do with this amazing tool called "Second language", by their own.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

How to get motivation?

It is so hard trying to find the exact moment, the exact word, the exact image, the exact video, the exact point in time, that would make a change in the way my students see life. Just let's try to see back in our past, and we will find a moment, just something that changed our lives forever. That exact moment that all our nature as human beings took form, and we discovered what we wanted to do in this life. And from then on, everything was so easy for us, because we knew exactly what we were supposed to do to be happy.
As teachers, this is really so hard, because every student is a different world, almost an entire different universe. So, trying to find the exact "key" to inspire every one of them to find their right path in life, is really so hard.
Sometimes I feel powerless to feel that I can't find that exact "key" to everyone of my students. And sometimes I really don't know if what I am doing is really inspiring. All I can do, or at least, try, is to give as much as experiences I can give to them, so If I am lucky, one of them, will really be meaningful to them.
But this life is so amazing, that we don't need to receive an amazing experience to find the right path. Sometimes, just simple things can inspire us.
Long ago, a good coworker of mine showed me this video. At first, it was like... "what is this?, so silly". But then after finishing the whole video, I got a strange feeling. Like ... wow.
Anyway, this video inspired to travel far away of my home, into another country. Maybe, most of you have traveled so much, not big deal. But for me, I have never travelled to a foreign country (in asia), alone, and of course, feeling scared. But I thought, if Matt could do it, why not me?
A simple video can change a life.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Problems with the verb to Be

My experience as a teacher is not that big, but during these years I have noticed many aspects about the English language. One of the things that calls my attention is how much difficult is to learn the verb to be for my students. I have already said that it is really an important and basic verb, but for some reasons, after many years of trying to learn this verb, it seems that even at the end, students still can't memorize this verb.
Let's see some important facts.
For a spanish speaker (I dare to say), English is really easy to learn, considering that Spanish is richer in vocabulary. But it seems, that when you already know something so difficult, then it is so hard to learn something so easy.
There must be an explanation for this: after many years or teaching and teaching, and learning and learning the verb to be. students don't learn it. The problem is that after many years of trying to learn it, they assimilating the pronoun and the verb as one. So, if you ask them to create a sentence like "Yo juego" (I play), they will end writing "I am play".
Other problem is that, we mention the word "to be" so much, and really so much, that they will end writing "I be", instead of "I am".
Students can get the idea of "He is" or "She is", but it is still hard to get the idea of "It is". When I was a students, my teacher always taught me that I must use "It" when I want to talk about "animal or things". But it is more than that, for instance, when you want to say "IT is cold". What is it cold? The weather. Is the weather an animal or a thing? none of them. That is a problem.
Most of the verbs need an auxiliar, but the verb to be doesn't need it.
Probably a poster would help the students to learn the verb to be, so in such a way, they can see it everyday.

But do you know any other, more effective and creative to teach this important verb???
If you know any other interesting  way to learn this verb, you can share it. It would be nice to know it.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

The verb To Be

To Be
View more presentations from Julian VM

I don't know why the verb To Be, even though it is the most basic verb in English, is so hard to be learnt by the students. I must say that even after many years, they can't memorize this verb. Probably, it has been a problem of the teachers, me included. Because how come that something so simple, it can be so hard for the students.
And this is a major issue for the students who are learning English as a second language, because they must learn the pronouns and then this verb to say a simple sentence. Then it will be helpful to create sentences in Continuous Tense, and Passive voice.
But for some reasons, teachers are still not able to teach this in a good way (me included, again)

Just to remember:

      =   Yo
You  =   Tú (singular informal)     Usted  (singular formal)
He    =   Él
She   =   Ella
It       =  Él / Ella  (When we are not talking about a person) *
We    = Nosotros / Nosotras
You   =  Ustedes (plural)
They  =  Ellos / Ellas

* In Spanish, we don't need to use pronouns, because the verbs tell us the subject. In relation with the subject IT, in Spanish, we don't use the pronoun Él / Ella, when we are talking about anything that it is not a person.

Responsibility, can it be taught to the students?

Responsibility is just a concept that can't be taught as a subject. As values, responsibility is something you learn by watching actions in others and understanding that you have to do something, and you can't go away from it, because you know you are the only one who can do it.
Let's see how can we learn to be responsible:
  1. By punishment: I am punished for not doing something, so I learn that if I don't do what I am supposed to do I will receive something negative in exchange.
  2. By imitation: I see what other people are doing. And when I see that other people are being succesful and having all they want, then I want to copy that.
  3. By the experience: After many times of doing the right things, and getting good benefits, then I just continue being responsible and getting even better things.
  4. By inner inspiration: Something tells me that I have to be responsible and I must do things because I am here in this planet, for a reason, and that reason is to do my job.
Probably, if you are lazy, you will learn by punishment. If you are clever, you will learn by imitation. If you have lived long, then by experience. But the best way to learn how to be responsible is by inner inspiration, because it gets a different payment. Nobody told you what to do, it was you only who knew what to do, you did it. That is the moment when you feel you are growing up.
Now, the key question is... how my students can learn to be responsible?
The answer is simple, it must be secuencial, it must starts by punishment. It can sound strong, but this comes when we are so young, with the family. But when the family is not doing its part, then this step comes at the school which brings lots of problems.
Our role as teachers must be moving our students through these 4 levels, as a transition, in a way that our students don't feel that being responsible is something that is against them.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Do we really teach for the future?

There are so many times I wish to have a speech like that. Sometimes I think I am giving a speech like that. But I really don't know if it is reaching in to the core of my students' heart. I think it is "the" wish of students to chance in some way, the way the students see life.
I feel scared to see that what I am teaching it can be just mere content, empty with the time, instead of really giving an important tool that they can use in the future.
Let's face the truth, the school is a nice bubble, where students live comfortable, sometimes, even more comfortable than in their own houses. But someday, they will have to face the truth, and the truth is cruel and hard. That is why many students, who are leaving highschool, feel depressed.
For sure they need information, contents, the raw facts, but how much of that is really helpful for their lives in the future.
Some days ago, we saw the movie of Will Smith, "The Pursuit of Happyness" (yes, with letter "y"). And I got the previous video as the essence of the whole movie. The phrase is so simple, but at the same time, so powerful "You want  something, then go and get it, period".
Students tend to follow instructions, and ok, they have to. But at the same time, they need to have their own goals, their own ambitions. They need to be innovative and creative. At the school they learn rules, and the follow them, but they have to know how to adjust them, change them, create more,  ... not just breaking them. They must be able to face a hard reality that is due to come. And as teachers, what are we doing?
But I believe that this part of the job is so easy for teachers, the problem is that most of the students are not ready to face this reality, and some don't see how it can be until they are already living it.

What can we do to make them understand the importance of studying?
How can they feel how is this cruel reality, still living in the bubble?
How can they believe and trust in the teachers?

Thursday, 20 October 2011

what I need or what I want

I still wonder if what I teach is what my students really need. Because one thing is what we need, and another thing is what we want.
Most of the times, students want something totally different from what they need to know, and our role will be trying to to make them meet in the middle.
We know what the students want, but the programs of the government tells us what we have to teach, and giving too much time to work on what the students want, it will mean less time to work on what they must learn every year in every subject.
My students need to learn more about real life, what it really happens outside the bubble called school. They need to know what to do in case of any situation.
The problem is that just teaching pronouns won't help in gathering and getting certain skills.
What we have to do is the following:
1.- We need to know our subject very well,
2.- We need to know methodologies to work with the students
3.- We need to know what our students want
4.- We need to know the way our students learn better
5.- We need to encourage our students to get any goal they have
6.- We need to encourage the sense of responsibilty
7.- We need to consider all the previous points to make a deal between our responsibility as a teacher, the responsibility of the students, the subject and its relevance outside the school.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Travelling to the south. Day 3

The last day, we got up early again, we had the chance to hear speeches related with the responsibility in having pets, the properties of some trees, and how to get money without killing the trees. After lunch, we went to paint in wall with drawings about ecology.
At night students have the chance to show what they are doing in their clubs.
What I liked about this, is the way some students talked. In some way I felt proud of they way my own students could present their work to the rest of the students. And I say "in some way", because, I am not sure if I have contributed to give those tools to my students. I want to think I did it. But more than that, I felt happy that some of my students are very responsible to prepare their speech, and present it so well, that they were very professional in doing so.
I hope more students can follow their example. And at the same time, I think giving the chance to the students to participate in clubs, and then participating in different activities like this, it would be very helpful to form responsibility, strength to know that they can do anything they want without being shy or nervous to talk to more people.
It is funny, but I am still a nervous person, even being a teacher, but when I have to do something, then I do it.
Give your students the chance to talk in front of more people, and they will feel they can do even greater things.

Travelling to the south. Day 2

After having some problems in finding the place we were supposed to stay the previous night (a boarding school), the second day was great. We got up very early in the morning, and we took breakfast just to go to the opening ceremony in the center of the city of Cañete. We had the pleasure to hear some interesting speeches from very important important people, all connected with ecology.
After that, we went to another place to choose which speech we wanted to hear. My students chose to hear the speech given by SAG (Agriculture and Cattle Service). We learnt some information about animals and the law to take care of those animals in extinction.
We came back to get lunch, and then we visited the Mapuche Museum Ruka Kimvn Taiñ Volil, dedicated to our native people culture. This was the most interesting for me, unfortunately, the time was so few and they were like in a hurry to tour us inside the museum, so no time to really get all you can get from this amazing place.
Students had the chance to know more about our own native culture, games and planting trees.
It is so amazing that our culture has such connection with the Earth, actually, mapuche means people of the Earth. I think it was a good lesson of the love that our native people have for the planet and all the creatures.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Travelling to the south. Day 1

Last friday, I had the chance to travel to the south of Chile, I went with a group of students to the National Gathering of Ecoclubs, in the city of Cañete.
I must say the travel was really long, and tiring, we took the first of three buses at almost 9 in the morning, and we almost reached at 9 at night. Very long. But it was worth it.
Ok, until now, There is no connection between this and my classes of English. But I was thinking that the class in not all, I mean to say, there is so much more than just a subject.
I feel that most of what we remember from the school is not the subject itself, but the experiences we got. And for sure, that when students are faced to situations in which, they must be responsible and mature, then those activities are essential to the life of a student.
We just can't think and pretend that being in a classroom is the only way to learn. There are more ways.
Give the students the chance to prove they can talk in public, and it will be the start in their lives as responsible and grown up students. Believe me.

Friday, 7 October 2011

A multi-task teacher. When just one task is not enough

Teachers have many things to do, that is for sure. And maybe that is why it is so stressing being a teacher.
But that is normal in our world of teachers. I have been busy in these days, too many things to do. I am a teacher of English, and I have to prepare material everyday and correct works and tests. I am the one helping the parents with all their doubts and problems. By now we are planning some actvities to get money and fulfill our projects for this year.
Now, I will be out for some days, I will be travelling to the south with some students, because they will gather in a national meeting for ecoclubs. So I will be posting my experience on that.
Is it tiring to be a multi-task teacher? Yes it is, but it is so worth it, that you enjoy every minute you are working for it. Yes it is tiring, but once you start doing many things, you feel strange if you don't do them. You get used to be a multi-task teacher.
The key is scheduling your time, don't worry too much about things, and you wont get stressed.

But by now, I will know a new city in the south. Learning what other students do within the country, about the environment and nature.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

No more violence, no more bullying

No more, really NO MORE! No more violence, no more bullying. Where are the values? where is the love? where is the respect? Is it really the family so absent on this matter?
It is just. I was raised with values, respecting the rest of the people. But nowadays, all those values are getting lost. I feel afraid that the families are not taking account on this matter.
But how can we teach values, if values can't be taught? How can we deal with violence, if violence tends to generate more violence?
The circle must be broken, and we can't accept more threats or violence in the class. Everyone has the right to work and study in a comfortable, nice and secure environment. And as teachers we must help to grant and mantain that environment.
Let's say no more to the violence in the classroom, no more violence outside the classroom, no more violence in our lives, and let's promote love, values, respect and solidarity.
Remember, no more violence, but more respect and love.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

why to continue studies to get perfection

I have been very busy in these days, and it is because, apart from preparing the material for my classes, I am already taking courses.
I already shared with you my course about videogames and education that I took last year. And the last semester, I took another e-learning course about research skills in relation with ICTs. Well, now I am taking another e-learning course called multimedia, and until now, we are just starting, but I have already learnt some terms and how interesting can be a page that uses hypertext, video, images and audio. And I hope to be creating material to share with you all.
In addition, I am about to start a short course in relation with the use of blogs, and soon I will start another course for teachers of English with level B2 or ALTE 3. I feel really excited to start soon these courses, because I really enjoy learning new things.
Next friday I will be travelling with a group of my students into a national gathering of ecoclubs, and of course, I will be sharing that new experience too.
I think, it is never late to study and learn something new, and it is essential in the life of a teacher to continue improving and learning, because even if we don't want, things are never the same, and we have to adjust to that.
That is why I have been a bit busy in these days. Is it too much? Well, if you like something, then you will always have a time for everything, the point is that you don't make excuses that there is no time, because it is a matter of just scheduling and time management.
You must take into account the following aspects:
  1. Learning is a life-long process.
  2. You can have a big and long experience being a teacher, but it doesn't mean that you know everything or that you have the answer to everything.
  3. Studying is not just a process that you do in a formal way. You have millions of pages on internet where you can get information to continue learning.
  4. Facts are always changing, so you must be updated.
  5. Your students are changing too, they are not the same as previous years, so their knowledge and questions are different, are you ready to answer those new doubts?
  6. Learning is one of the most amazing things we can do in our lives. Don't you enjoy so much when you discover a new fact?
  7. If you demand a lot from your students, then be prepared to be demanded a lot by them.
  8. Don't be stubborn, and get along with the modern times. Don't stay in the past.
  9. Finally, it is good to be a student again, not just to learn something new, but also, to understand what it is being a student in a modern era.
Are you studying nowadays? what are you studying? what was the course you enjoyed the most?

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

How to teach in a clear way?

There is no a magic way to teach clearly, because what for me it is something clear, maybe for other person it is not. But at least, I could say a couple of tips to help in teaching clearly.
The first, as I have said many many times, is the lesson plan. Because if you have your content, your activities, your methodology clear, then everything will be clear for you.
Don't go inventing something new. If you don't know something, it doesn't mean you are a bad teacher, it just means that you have a new chance to improve and learn something new. Don't lie to your students, because they will know it immediately. It is better to say "I don't know" than giving a wrong answer.
Give direct and short contents. Don't make up a long story to just give a short instruction. Just say what you have to say. Although, it seems to be easy, it is really hard, because you must be repeating not just once or twice, but many times, if your studetns are not paying attention or talking. We must be sure they are hearing our instructions.
Don't use the whiteboard to write a book. Just use it to give short meanings, vocabulary, or just to create diagrams. Nobody wants to read too many lines. just few, and if there is an image or a diagram, better.
Don't use complex words, but don't forget to teach them those hard words.
Don't just use one way to teach, but many. Tell the instruction, write it, give an example, draw the intruction, use colors, if there is music, better.
It happens a lot, but avoid to waste too much time in sharing experiences or stories that are not connected with what you are teaching. It is nice to stop the class a bit to share a joke or saying something nice, but just for a bit, then go back to your class.
Use a formal language, dont use too much slang. Remember you are supposed to be a model to follow.

Do you have other idea to share?

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Social networks, good or bad?

I was reading a comment in a forum the other day, and I just started realizing about the power of social networks (actually, I already knew it). How important and breathtaking can be. But at the same time, I was wondering if it is good or bad to just give hours and hours of our lives to be connected and talk or share with friends about what we think or do.
Maybe, as a way to kill the time, or just really feeling connecting with friends, social networks can be one of the moments we wait the whole day. And considering this, it is something that cannot go away from our sight, specially for teachers. We see this trend in our students, and in some ways, it must be useful.
But think of this, if it is part of our daily life, does it really mean that can bring any help in our work as a teachers?
It is true that if you don't have information, then you are totally away of having a clear opinion. But what happens if you are full of information, that you can't even be sure if it is real or not.
The point is, that social networks are really good to be in contact with friends, to learn new things, to give opinions or leaving comments. But how much of that is really a process that you can call "pedagogical"?
This is what we have to start considering seriously. Just because it is a trend, it doesn't mean that it is really giving me a learning experience. Most of it, it is about information, but how much of it is really becoming a learning process, and how much of it will be really useful in our lives.
What do you think? It is great to know through social networks that our friends are going to a party, but do you think that that news is really important for my life? what can I do with that information? and how much of that information is really true, or reliable?
Which is the role of teachers in this matter? What do you think?

Thursday, 22 September 2011

What do you expect from education?

I expect so much from education. Because I feel it is the reason why everything exists. Just think about it... everything that can exist is because someone learnt it, or someone was taught.
I  really expect so much from education. And as a teacher, I agree with the demands of the students. They want a better education. who doesn't? But I feel there is a lack of touch, a lack of wisdom, and a lack of respect in they way we can demand our rights.
I want the best for the students, I wish they have the best education. But if we talk about "rights", we have to talk about "duties". We can't demand if we don't show that we can do our part in improving our education.
I would be hypocrite to ask for better conditions of work, to increase my salary, to have bonus, or anything, if as a teacher, I don't do my work.
If we want to improve the education (students, teachers, parents, government, among others) then we have to really work for it, we have to give our best to be the best. As a teacher, I must be responsible, I have to study, I have to really be the best. But, the students, parents, and everyone who is part of the schools must do their job too.
I expect the best of the education, but changes won't come as a miracle. We all have to do our part.
And let's be ready, because we are demanding to have a better education, if we really want to change our education completely, then we will have to show how professional and responsible we can be.
If I deman the best education, then I will be demanded to be the best teacher, the best student, the best parents. I hope no one will be washing his/her hands in the future.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Stressed classroom? Then relax

I have talked already about the importance of relaxing when you feel stress. A stressed teacher can just make it worst.
But what about your students?
I have found many times, that my students are really tired, and like bored, so I have to think in how to give energy. But I have found too, that other times, students are so energized, that I can't stop them. Both states are not good to have a calm and nice place to study and work.
If your students are a bit stressed or so much energized, then try to make them relax. Give a time in your class to relax.
It is just 5 or 10 minutes, but it will help a lot.
Play relaxing music, and tell them a story (the one I tried is this):

Relax your body, close your eyes and imagine that you are in a far place, alone. It is really a nice place, so relaxing, you can see a lake, and a big forest. You go there, and you watch the place, you see the sky and the clouds when they are passing by. Take your time to think about you, about your life, about your family. Breathe deep, stretch your body, relax. Then you will continue walking until you find a cottage, and in there your find and old man. He invites you to sit, he gives you gift, it is a little box. You keep it. You say thanks, and then you continue. Relax. Then when you are alone, you open the box, and inside you find a nice gift, that just you know what it is. It is something you need so much and you feel happy because you have it. Then you keep it with you forever. Then little by little you come back to the classroom....
Most of the students gets asleep. Let them. The idea is to relax. When they are back in the classroom. Talk about the gift, and share which were the gifts they saw in the boxes.
Try it, and you will see how nice is a relaxing moment in the classroom.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Do you really need multimedia to teach?

Once I read a story like this:
There was a teacher trying to calm 30 students. They were not hearing because they were not behaving well. The teacher tried everything, but she didn't calm the students. By that moment, there was an inspector coming to the classroom. When he saw the situation, he told the students "Hey children! How are you? But nobody answered.
Then he said: "I have something very special in my pocket, nobody has seen it before". Then some of the students got interested in knowing about this special thing. One of them asked: "what is it?, can you show it to us?". The man said, "Sure". And then he took a cork out of his pocket. The students said: oh, but that is only a cork". The man said: "yes, but do you know where this cork comes from? No. Well, it comes from Italy, do you know where Italy is? Yes, in Europe. ... Yes, what other country is in Europe?   ... Well, Spain, France, Germany...  Yes, Do you know France?...
Students didn't notice the time was flying while the man was asking and asking questions. The teacher was amazed about what the man did, and she said that she would try to do the same.
After a couple of days, the man happened to come back again to the school, and he decided to visit the classroom of the teacher. But the classroom was the same, a mess. So the man asked the woman what happened. And the teacher said, oh, it is just... I lost the cork, and I can't find it.

Sometimes we depend too much on the tools, on the multimedia, but we haven't changed the way we teach. A boring class. The point is that the tools are changing, evolving. But teachers are not.
Teachers need to be updated.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Multimedia. My new course

I have just started a third e-learning course, called mulitmedia. I haven't had enough time to do all, but I will try to continue leaving posts everyday.
I hope to learn new things and ideas, so I will be sharing all I learn with you all.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Learn to follow, then you can Lead

I feel there is so much arrogance in the air, so much irrespectfulness, that you can't even notice it is there, in front of your eyes. It is so much easier to be intolerant than accepting that other can be right.
I don't know what it is wrong with being a follower. It seems to be a sin, like so low, that no one wants to be a follower. Being a follower means that someone else has power on you, and it sounds like you are used or abused by other person.
Most of the times we are so arrogant to admit that there are better people than us, that there are people who are more intelligent than us, that there are people more successful than us. And then we feel envy of them, because they are better. And, as it is so easy to criticize, and it is so hard to follow, we start feeling hating them for being luckier than us.
Everyone wants to be the leader immediately, without effort, but to do so, we need to follow first.
It is about respecting the different roles. If you respect your boss, then when you become a boss, your workers will respect you too. If your boss respects you, then when you become a boss, you learn how to respect your workers.
It is common sense. Respecting to be respected.
You can say that you have the right to do anything. Perfect. But it means that anybody can do the same.  And what if other person feels he has the right to harm you, to hurt you, to deceive you, ... is it ok?
Following other means you give a time to learn from that person. You have the chance to just hear, to just learn, so then, you have the enough time to lead, to guide.

Being a student is not the worst thing in the world. It is just a moment of your life in which you are hearing, watching, feeling, listening, learning, preparing yourself, improving, growing, believing, dreaming. Because the time will come that you will have to show what you learnt.
You will have to hear your children when they are telling you something important.
You will have to watch the signs when your child needs your support.
You will have to feel the happiness or pain that your children are feeling.
You will have to listen when your wife/husband is talking to you.
You will have to help your children to prepare themselves to face the future life.
You will have to believe in your children and believe that they will be good people in the future.

First follow, then you will learn how to lead.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Sentences in English

One of the problems I have while I am teaching English, is trying to make my students to write and create sentences. Even though, Spanish has more vocabulary and is harder than English, they seem to have difficulties trying to create paragraphs or sentences.
That is why I have created some posters with sentences in English (Simple, Perfect, Continuous) so they will know what it comes first, what it comes second, and so on. But even though, they have those posters, they still have problems, and they seem to translate every word, without considering the differences between both languages.
For example, for my students is hard to translate the following sentence:
"I was the one who woke him up this morning"
They translate "one" as the number, not as the person, and the phrasal verb "wake up" is not understood as just one concept.
I came up with the idea of creating a kind of book to help my students to create sentences. But the time is not enough for me. So I am already creating a Power Point presentation as a "Sentence Builder".
I hope to have it already finished soon, so I can share it with you all.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Time to relax

Everytime I feel tired, I just try to find a time to rest and relax. Most of the times, teachers are just so full of work that trying to find a way to relax, is really important, because it is part of our health. Give a break to yourself, you need it. If you feel tired, rest your body hearing relaxing music like this:

Families, where are you?

I have been working as a teacher for many years, and it hasn't been easy. I have learnt by mistakes and successes how to do a better work. But during all these years, I still miss the participation of the parents on the education of the students.
I must say though, that I have met great people, excellent parents who were not just coming to talk to me about the behavior or the marks of the students, but also to ask about what they can do to help in this process.
I really miss the collaboration of the family.
I am not saying they must be coming to the school everyday, or like participating in every class. But don't you think it would be nice if they did that?
At least, I would like to see, parents coming to the school, or calling to know special dates or celebrations at the school, so they can participate.
I would like to see parents organizing activities by their own motivation.
I would like to see parents participating in some classes, not just like watchers, but also, assisting, helping,  sharing their knowledge to enhance the knowledge of all the students.
I would like to see parents committed with the process of supporting the school.
I would really like to see a family that is immersed in the life of the school.
As teachers, we really need them, we really need them as our partners.
Some parents do it. but... where is the rest?

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Is education the only way to eradicate poverty?

There are two ways to become a millionaire: one is winning the lottery, and the other way is by working so hard to earn that money.  The first way, although is the fastest way, is the hardest one to get. And probably, as the saying says "easy come, easy go", that money will vanish soon.
Working hard seems to be the toughest road to succeed, but it is the most secure one.
Definitely, education is the main way to break the poverty circle. But if it is so, why there is still so much poverty in the world? What are we doing wrong? Probably, we are not reaching every child, or probably it is not a quality education.
If we really want to make a chance in the world, we must start with education. But we know it is not easy, because education has become a business. No wonder why just few can get an excellent education, while others must stay in the line waiting for their turn.
Education is not a business, it must be a right for every person, as we know it is the only way to promote values and the social promotion. To do so, we have to bear in mind the following aspects.
  • Education is a right and a duty. No one must be away from this.
  • It must be compulsory. Otherwise, you give the chance for some to choose not to take education as a choice.
  • Education must be free. You cannot pay for your right. But at the same time, there must be high standards, so education will be measured by excellence and not by money.
  • There must be a change in how we see education. It is not just a place called "school" to go during week days. But, it is a place in which you can enhance your skills and interests.
  • Educators do an honorable work, so they need recognition,  not in money, but in making the profession as something of excellence.
For sure, the only way to fight against poverty, is by giving an education of excellence and quality. But we must know also that as long as, culture will still help to make differences between people, then, there will always be poverty in the world. Education can help to revert that, but it won't  be the last and definite solution.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Movies and Series for teachers

I am fan of  movies and series. Not just one kind of movies, but different, and I might say that I have watched a lot of movies and series related with teachers, and from most of them, I got great lessons.
I will share with you some of the films and series, that I consider interesting and good for teachers.
  • Gokusen: I have mentioned this series before. A japanese teacher, comes to teach in a hard class, where most of the students are bad guys. But "Yankumi", this new teacher, comes to teach them a good lesson of friendship. What they don't know, is that "Yankumi" is descendant of Yakuzas, so she won't be easily scared by the students.
  • The Queen's Classroom: Talking about strict teachers, this is an excellent japanese series about a strict teacher who became the worst nightmare of a young group of students. I like this series, because the teacher even though, was a bit scary, she was an excellent professional, knowing and doing her work very well.
  • Nobuta wo produce: A shy girl who is bullied at the school, is helped by two students to be popular in the school.
  • Battle Royale: Not recommended for children. A controversial, crude, and violent movie. Students are so bad that, in the future, the government passes a law, in which, one class within the country must participate in a kind of punishment called battle royale. Just one must survive. (This movie shows the lose of respect and values in the schools, which is getting common in some parts. Sad to say)
  • To Sir with love: An old movie, starred by Sidney Poiter, who comes to a difficult class to teach, and he must face hard times with the students. But he will teach them more than just contents.
  • Dangerous Mind: Famous movie with excellent soundtrack. Again, this time a woman playing the role a teacher, comes to a hard class, and do her best to help them in a world of gangs and drugs.
  • Take the Lead: The same plot, a teacher coming to a hard class. But this time, based on the life of Pierre Dulaine, with lots of music and rhythm.
  • Les Choristes: Touching french movie. A teacher of music comes to a boarding school, where most of the students are having a difficult life. He comes with the dream to form a choir, but it won't be easy at first.
  • Front of the class: Based on a true story, this movie tells the life of Brad Cohen, who was bullied at the school because he suffered from tourette sydrome. His dream was becoming a teacher, but in order to do so, he had to face difficult obstacles. Here we see how dreams, even impossible, they can become true, if we really want them so much and put so much effort on them.
  • School of rock: The perfect movie for Jack Black. Here, Jack plays the role of a decadent rock musician, who uses the name and title of his best friend to work in a school, and teach (nothing) to a group of young students. The movie is full of "recesses", until this lazy teacher discovers that his students are really good at playing instrument. From then on, he starts teaching music, and how to play rock.
Some of the movies are good to work with the students. others not. But I find all of them very interesting. But of course, there are hundreds of movies more, and if you want to share some, you can do it leaving some comments.
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