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.

how to be an strict teacher, without being an enemy for the students?

It is common that we try to get the whole attention of the students. And in doing so, we make the mistake of confusing the roles. We think that, in order to be part of their group and be heard by them, we must be like them. Big mistake. Trying to be their friend is the first mistake we make when we are new teachers. It is true that we must get interested in their interests, and as adults, we find quite hard to understand them. For us, teachers, things are in one way, and for them, things are in another different way. But when we are so near of them, and we give the space to make them feel that we are their friends more than their teacher, then, roles are confused, and most of the times, the respect is lost. The question here is how can we deal with that problem? And it becomes a problem when we try to get something by taking the wrong decisions or taking the wrong actions. Well, here is what I think we must do in order to be strict, but without being the enemy. And you can see that it is not so hard.
  1. We must understand that we are teachers, nothing else. We are not friends. We are in the classroom to teach, to help, to advice, to control, to guide, but we are not in the classroom to talk about friendship.
  2. We have rules to follow, but it doesn't mean we cannot be flexible. Every situation is different, therefore, we must know how to react.
  3. We have to be consistent. We can't say something today, just to contradict ourselves tomorrow.
  4. We need to have all in order. Having an agenda is the best way to have all written down, so nothing will be forgotten.
  5. Let's be serious, but let's not be mad. Let's be strong, but let's not be violent. Let's be direct, but let's not be insulting.
  6. We can have moments of good humour. But we don't have to lose all the time joking around.
  7. Our word must be a sign of trust. If we say something, then we must mean it. Yes is yes, no is no. Although, maybe sometimes is maybe.
  8. Let's not lose our temper, but if we have to, then let's do it with respect. (It is good to do it, but not always).
  9. We can hate the situation, not the student. So, when a students makes a mistake, we will take action upon the situation, we won't attack the student.
  10. Our word must not be a command, it must be a word that inspires to be followed.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Videogames and Education (III part)

This is the third and the last part of the series "Videogames and Education". I just wanted to finish by saying why it is important to use video games at the school, and why it can help teachers to get high skills in the students.
  1. Solving Problems: Every strategy game needs to have a plan, but sometimes, you need to take quick decisions. It is really important to know which is the best strategy, in order to attack and conquer more lands. But not just problems related with the game, but also with the computer itself(connection, wires, programs, etc.)
  2. Taking Decisions: I need to use my logical-mathematical thought to choose which is the best option and continue playing without losing.
  3. Investigation: Strategy games are full of menus, information, choices to take, and you have to investigate among them which is the best option.The game I like (Age of Empires II) has different civilizations to choose, and every one of them has its own characteristics. After playing with the game, you are able to find the civilization of your like. There is also an option to create your own scenario, which gives you the chance to investigate more.
  4. Explore: The game has different maps, and most of them are  unexplored. Apart from the menus, you can explore and compare different civilizations too.
  5. Quick thinking: If I am being attacked, what do I do? I send archers, or I sent the cavalry? Sometimes I am even attacked by two civilizations. then I have to think fast.
  6. Perseverance: This games are long, and it takes long to finish just one level. So I need to have patience and the ability to overcome frustration.
  7. Searching and using information: Not just on the game, but I can also try to find information on social networks on internet.
  8. Creativity: If I cannot go directly against the enemy, then I can try to invent a new way to go against them and win. If my students have this ability, then in the future, they will have great chances to adjust themselves when new obstacles are coming in their ways.
  9. Communicating and socializing: With this game, I have the chance to play with more people of different places at the same time (multiplayer option), and interact with them, which is excellent for teachers of English as a way to practice chatting.
  10. Multimedia: I use technology, the use of computer, internet to interact with others when I am playing.
  11. Team work: I can learn from other players, or from forums related with the game. I can even play in teams against other teams.
  12. Content related with my subject: I can use vocabulary, sentences, ideas, opinions, among other contents that are related with my area of study.
  13. Levels of complexity: I start with easy levels, while I am learning how to play and how to use the different items or menus. And as I play more, levels tend to be harder, which gives me the feeling that I am able to face harder obstacles.
There can be more skills that students will enhance or even discover in themselves. So you can be sure that everytime you talk about videogames, it is not just a funny time that you will spend, but also, a good way to improve some of your students' skills. And if you remember, that I have already mentioned  that students can spend hours and hours playing in front of the computers, without getting bored, and really enjoying, then it means that if you use videogames to promote the adquisition of these kind of high skills, then there are big chances that it will be an excellent tool to use it at the school.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Losing weight and teaching, what do they have in common?

The answer is really simple: Motivation.
I have found this interesting video made by Asif Fasih in his blog Be fit, Be happy! , related with fitness, and how to lose weight. But this video, which is called Tips on how to stay motivated, called my attention for other reason, and it was the fact that staying motivated to continue practising and exercising to lose weight is something  really hard to do, because most of the times, people tend to lose motivation, and as it is tiring, they just don't continue anymore.
His video mentions some tips to stay motivated, but I thought in which way it can be useful for me as a teacher. And to my surprise, it is very helpful.
Asif, who is a fitness consultant, mentions in his video what he calls SMART goals, which means:
  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Accountable
  • Realistic
  • Timely
Now, think how many times you wish your students to learn a lot, to know every content, to study and remember everything you have taught them.  This is really impossible. We need to have a realistic goal. What do we want from our students in terms of something that can be measurable and realistic? Sometimes we expect to have so many goals, so high. But what we have to do is considering Asif's words, and start planning for realistic goals.
Asif mentions as well, that in order to have a clear view of the progress we are getting, it is necessary to take photos. why? because it is a way that we see a monthly progress. As teachers we tend to evaluate, but we evaluate the progress of the students, but what about us? do we evaluate our monthly progress or goals?
One way to do this, is by having an agenda, and writing down every goal to measure our monthly progress.
Asif also says, that one way to avoid losing motivation is by asking ourselves why we are doing that. Why do we want to achieve that goal? Sometimes I lose the goal. I have to many things to do, in many aspects, that sometimes I forget the reason why I want to achieve those goals. And the answer is simple too, the reason is my students. So we must remember every time that we are getting tired, losing the battle, feeling down or just losing motivation, why is the real reason for us to teach and being a teacher? The answer will come easily.
At the end, Asif says that we need someone to help us in this progress of staying motivated. As teachers we need to have a network of supporting teachers to improve our performance, and to continue working hard to get our goals.

I leave the complete video of Asif Fasih.


Sources: Video youtube.com

Monday, 5 September 2011

Do your students understand you, teacher?


Source: Video Youtube
 ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUyLwXhqlWU )

I found this video funny in two ways: First, can you understand the teacher? It doesn't sound English, right? Well, it makes me think how much of what I say in class is really understood by my students. If it goes into the other ear, or if it is not even reaching any ear, is something really important. Why? Because we can be wasting a lot of time planning, creating a good class, bringing material, giving the best speech ever... but even though, my students seem not to understand (yes I know, I am talking in English for them, when they don't speak English... joke), but seriously, I try to find ways to make them understand what I am saying. Then I think, what if no matter how hard I try, they will never understand my words... until they tell them by their own words. Probably, the only way they will really understand what I am saying, is after they really experience it.

The second thing which is funny, but it is part of the reality of the classroom. Did you see the boy? He was always doing something that, at least for him, was right. In order words, he was thinking something different from reality. This makes me think how true is the fact the every student is a very different world, with different worries, problems, hopes and dreams. If as teachers we could have enough time to travel to every one of those amazing worlds, how much more we would learn from them, and how much more we could help too.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

We already know... there is something wrong with education

Chile is living already 3 months of strikes, protests and violence. Why? because students want a better education. But I wonder myself what does that mean?. What is "a better education"?
For sure, there is something wrong with it. Most of the works and professions have already changed through times, but education is stuck, since ancient times, there is no much change on it. We need it, but what is that change?
Let's start with teachers. I won't say all, but many teachers have a lack of motivation, probably they don't feel that they are appreciated, they don't receive respect. No wonder why they don't feel putting so much effort in their work. (Again... not all teachers). Some say that they don't receive so much money according to their work. Probably, it is less than in other countries, but I don't know if it is a matter of money. Another point is that, in the last 2 decades, technology has evolved so much, that some teachers are reluctant to change their ways of teaching. I think, teachers must evolve, more than just being a teacher, they must be a facilitator, a helper, a reference.
What about the parents? There is a debt here. For many many years the school  has been a place to give information, but at the same time, it is seen as a place to keep students while parents work. There is few connection between the school and the parents. Most of the times, it is just for special occasions, that parents participate in activities related with the students. I feel there is still a lack of participation of the parents. It can be because they don't have time, they work, or any other reason. But if we really want to make a change in education, then the interest mut be higher.
The students. Well... they are the central part of all. We can't do so much without their help. Probably because they are still young, they don't see the importance of education. They have a great responsibility though, and I dare to say, that just few of them have done their work..
The world is changing, and the school is getting old. Teachers, parents, students, the whole society feel the school must change. We need it so much. And I hope that something so amazing, great, inspiring and beautiful as  education is, can find a way to improve and switch the feeling we have about schools.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Edmodo and Wallwisher - Interesting tools to work with the students

Reading the post called "5 tools for online collaboration" on August 23rd from the blog Classroom in the Cloud, I found those tools really interesting for me, so I decided to give a try.
Two links called my attention, and I was intrigued to learn and test them.

One of them is Edmodo, very similar in aspect to Facebook, it is designed to help teachers to be in contact with the students. You just have to create an account and from then on, you decide what to do. Some of the options that were interesting for me, are the chances you have to create groups that will have a special code, then, you will give those codes to your students. Imagine you have 4 different groups of students, you will create 4 groups in edmodo, every group will have a special code, and students will be able to enter, create an account and with the special code, they will be part of the group you have created. This gives you the chance to assign tasks, put information, documents, links, among other things to share with your students. And they can write you back through posts, so you will have feedback. At the same time, you can create groups for parents, which is a good idea to be in contact with their parents too. You can create polls so students can answer some questions about the content for example. And as edmodo is a page for teachers, you can try to contact other teachers too. I really can't wait to use this page with my own students. ( I am already thinking in creating a poll to know the opinion that my students have about the classes).

Another tool was Wallwisher. This page is really simple, but it can have a great potential. First you have to create an account, and then create a wall. You can manage the options, but in simple words, you can allow anybody to leave a message in your wall. You can add images, videos or pages links too. It is a good tool for students to work in groups or teams, to organize information, to summarize contents, to create vocabulary lists, etc. (I am already thinking that if my students don't want to use edmodo to give their opinions about my class, then they can leave anonymous messages with their opinions in wallwisher).

Thursday, 1 September 2011

The best ways to deal with discipline problems

Every day, we are exposed to some uncomfortable situations related with discipline problems. Personally, I have faced different situations ranging from misbehavior, flying papers and smoke bombs, until fights, insults and foul language. Of course, we have to make a difference from those acts that are just a way to call the attention, from those which are just violent. But no matter the situation we have to experience, we always have to do something about it.
According to the teacher Penny Ur in her book "A course in language teaching", she states that it is not just the moment of the conflict the one we must mind, but also all the previous situations that trigger the discipline problem.
  1. Before the problem: It is important (as I have already said) to have a plan, to know what to do in case of a problem in the classroom. At the same time, we have to give clear rules and always pay attention to the whole class.
  2. The problem is starting: We have to act fast, and deal with every problem. We have to be calm all the time so we won't explode or threat (this is so hard, because we are humans, and we tend to get mad at this kind of situations)
  3. The problem exploded: If there is a problem already, and there is anger in the air, ok, then get angry. Then just get calm and  forget some situations, until you can find a solution to the problem.
I must admit, that it is so hard for me to pay attention to the whole class, they are so many, and while I am trying to help one, or a group, then there is a problem in the other part of the classroom.
I have had to face different hard situations. I tried to be calm, and just let it be, after all, they are teenagers, it is part of their changing mood. But we are the adults, and we can't fail.
Based on my experience, every discipline problem must be dealt immediately, and concerning with the more serious conflicts, there must be a kind of punishment (every school has its own rules) because we can't allow disrespect. But at the same time, we have to be very wise to know the behavior of the students, because they are very explosive, but after a time, they always come saying sorry.
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