Wednesday Seminars

Zhenya Polosatova's reflective lounge: learning, teaching, teacher training.

PD Challenge: New and Experienced Teachers

Earlier this month two Directors of Studies working in different language centers asked me a similar question: how can we ensure that both new and experienced teachers at the school are happy** with the professional development opportunities they have? One big concern for both schools was running regular workshop sessions where everyone is present (either because the center policy requires this, or because it is their own choice)

** Notes about happiness:

  1. this is a very subjective concept, and happiness is so different form person to person.
  2. for a language center, it is important to keep the students happy (thus the PD sessions are aiming at the ‘average’ and are aiming to ensure that the colleagues are sharing experience (and oftentimes, that the more experienced colleagues are helping the newer teachers meet customer expectations, etc.) – I am aware that this is perhaps a broad generalization, but it is based on my own experience of working with the above-mentioned language centers.
  3. based on 1 and 2, we often find that the more experienced teachers become, the less ‘happy’ they are about the PD system at their school, especially when it comes to workshops ‘for everyone’. There are a lot of complaints that ‘there is nothing new’ and ‘this is 10th time we are talking about […]’, etc.

I am sharing some thoughts on this challenge below, and then of course invite you to comment and… share more.

How can we find topics that interest the experienced teachers?

  • ask them directly (during a coffee break, at lunch, while choosing a course book, etc.)
  • listen to what they are talking about (an interesting activity? a question their student asked, etc.)
  • ask what they are reading (and read it too)
  • ask about their students and lessons (oftentimes, it is the new teachers who get all the attention, and there is simply no time to listen to the more experienced colleagues)

Formats of sessions: how can I ‘keep surprising’ the experienced teachers?

  • Question and Answer format (‘Something I would have liked to know about the topic at the beginning of my career’ can be a good starter)
  • Watch a video with a different ‘watching’ task (for example, new teachers could take notes about the ideas and think about their students/levels, etc. whereas experienced teachers could be reflecting which of the ideas shared they have already tried, whether it worked or not, why, etc. You can show them a short activity shared by Macmillan Education ELT, for example, this one on Dictogloss.
  • Watch a session from an international conference, e.g. the well-known IATEFL online Silvana Richardson’s session from 2016 is still available (you only need to register for free)
  • read some ‘tips from the expert‘, e.g. by Jim Scrivener or Scott Thornbury and discuss what works or does not work and/or needs modifications, etc.


Facilitator’s** Concerns: What if… 

…they already know what I am bringing to the session? 

  • sometimes they only heard the term (the words) and would love to learn more about the ideas and application
  • you can see how confident they are about the topic, and perhaps offer them to be ‘guru’ during the session, answer the questions from the others, etc. (which might be a new format of the session!)
  • you might decide to find out what exactly they read on the topic, and/or have tried out in class; if possible, think where in the session you can let them share
  • it never hurts to acknowledge that there are 1-2 people in the room who will also be contributing to the session ideas (and invite them to share resources, ideas, etc. in the group/social media)

… someone is giving an answer too far away from the topic, and/or if the belief is too different from mine?

  • you can ask what the others think about the point (sometimes this means the teacher who asked the question needs to say it again)
  • you might give an example from a recent shared experience, then ask about pros and cons of this idea
  • you could also share your own point as a belief based on your experience (which they hopefully respect)

** Note: by ‘presenter’ or ‘facilitator’ here I mean the new Director of Studies of an academic leader who is making her first steps in the managing role, so such sessions for the whole teaching team often become a challenge.


Further reading 

my earlier posts about session formats…

… and great posts about some alternatives:


What do you think? 

Thank you for reading! 🙂


Motivating Unmotivated?

Motivating Unmotivated was a topic for our latest reflective group meeting discussion.

We were talking about the students who for various reasons do not want to be in our classroom, or are losing interest, or are being pushed by the employer or parents, etc. The session was lively and involved a lot of talking and sharing (all based on the personal examples and challenges) and generous solution-offering time) During the session I realized there was no time for me to personally share my experiences.  I thought this was great, because the participants needed each other more than me as a facilitator! 🙂


This post is written as a follow-up to the meeting, and as my ‘talking point’ on the topic of the session.

The timing of the meeting was interesting because I just got back from a training course I had facilitated in Daegu, South Korea. Out of the 16 teachers in my group 8 were not excited about the idea of spending 12 days of their vacation in the training room. The other 8 were either more motivated, or more careful/polite (use another appropriate adjective) not to share their feelings. I am only half-joking here, unfortunately.

Note: they were all qualified and practicing middle and high school teachers with different teaching experience

When I conducted a small needs analysis exercise and asked what kind of learning goals and hopes/expectations the participants had, five people mentioned ‘motivation’ in this or that sense. For example, some teachers wanted to learn ways to engage their students in the process of the lesson, some were asking how they can ‘wake their students up’ in class (well, literally, in many cases), some were wondering if there are techniques to create and maintain interest in the process of learning a language in general, etc.

I replied that the course they were about to start should bring the answers to some of those questions, and (bravely!) encouraged the group to observe their facilitator and notice if there were ways Zhenya was using during the course to engage the ‘less motivated’ part of the group into the learning process. At the moment of saying that I was aware that I should be paying attention and consciously focusing on this matter throughout the course. In other words, I created a small ‘trainer challenge’ for myself.

So what did I do to encourage/motivate learning? I will make a list below (some ideas will be more self-explanatory than others, and I encourage you to ask me questions in the comments):

  • asking reflective questions after most of the tasks and activities done/experienced during the day (How did you feel before, during and after the activity? What was helpful, and what was not, and why?, etc.)
  • reality check questions (In what way might this work with your students? What modifications/adaptations might you need to make? Etc.)
  • having quiet reflective writing (journaling) time between sessions, or sometimes, between activities; sometimes with specific questions to focus on, and sometimes with a more general task ‘What would you like to remember about this idea after the course ends?’ or similar)
  • having no formal homework during the whole course (even though there were two group lesson plans to be submitted for micro-teaching element of the course, there were two planning slots during the week where the participants could manage their time themselves and complete the work; some chose to finish the work at home, but in that case, it was a choice, not an imposed task from the trainer)
  • planning and carrying out energizing activities in the morning and right after lunch (literally game-like and kinesthetic warmers that could be done in an ELT classroom, with a ‘twist’ towards the topic of the coming course session)
  • having a ‘parking lot’ poster or a part of the board with specific questions asked (and returning to them on the break time, and/or during lesson feedback, and/or as a part of a later session)
  • ‘VAKT-ing’ sessions, or addressing visual, auditory, kinesthetic and tactile modalities (yes, we can talk a lot about learning styles being wrong or artificial – the variety worked!)
  • offering choices, where possible (sometimes, big ones, like the time for a class break, and sometimes, more important questions, e.g. the order of groups in micro-teaching and deciding who goes earlier, and who is the last, etc.)
  • preparing an activity/task/picture you/the teacher (or me, facilitator, in this case) really likes (example: I love cutting things out and so I created a large paper octopus for the aspects of writing)


  • responding to the questions asked during the course (in class, on the break, via e-mail, etc.)
  • using space in the room creatively (depends on the premises you are in, sometimes there are ‘hidden opportunities’ you have never noticed, such as a moving board, or a large wall, etc.)
  • having ‘advantages and disadvantages’ discussion time for any idea offered (may be a part of the reflective/critical thinking point above, but feels different to me)
  • grouping participants meaningfully during the course activities (e.g. experienced high school teachers working together for lesson planning and micro-teaching, etc.)

I asked the group at the end of the course which learning goals were achieved, and which questions were answered. The question about motivation and ‘waking people up’ did not come up again. I asked if it was something they discovered in the process of the course, and most of the points shared above came up.

In simple words, motivation is what makes people do/not do something. It is a huge topic and definitions vary, of course. My own ‘recipe’ for motivating learners is showing the interest, the passion, the care. Ideally, genuine, of course.

How do you motivate yourself, your learners or course participants? What works and what does not? What are your favorite sources of inspiration to motivate yourself (and then the others)? Please share in the comments!

Thank you for reading! 🙂

Reflective Practice Group: One Student

Background: you might have already heard or read about Reflective Group Meetings where teachers discuss a challenge or question they face and think critically and analytically about some possible reasons, formulate their own teaching and learning beliefs and come up with action plans to try out in the future.

I learned about (and attended two) such meetings in Daegu (South Korea). I am also in touch with inspiring and reflective colleagues in Japan and USA. Well, I decided to make a step myself and ran our first meeting here in Dnipro, Ukraine.

The first meeting was more of an introduction, and ‘test-drive’ of this idea: I invited my former colleagues and course participants, and some of them brought their reflective friends and colleagues. We had a small circle of 10 people and discussed how a reflective cycle can be applied, experienced a short non-language demo activity and reflected on it, and reviewed the stages of the Experiential Learning Cycle. We agreed to meet again, and created a group on Facebook to stay in touch.


Now I am planning our second meeting, and this is what this post is about.

One Student

My intro message about this meeting says:

Let’s start with something simple, and complicated at the same time: Your Student. Choose a student whose learning manner, behavior, needs or personality you would like to reflect on. Keep an eye on this student in the coming weeks, maybe take brief notes of specific situations and behaviors you would like to share.


I am thinking to structure the meeting around the theme of One Student, and will share my ideas below. Your comments and insights are very welcome (there are still a couple of days left before the meeting)

Getting Started

Think (and/or take notes) about the student you are thinking about. You might choose to share some of this with your reflective peers today.

Some helpful questions:

  • Why does s/he stand out for you?
  • Why do you think the student needs English? Why is s/he in your classroom?
  • What makes this student special? Unique?
  • What can you learn from him/her (personally, and as his/her teacher)?

Context Setting

This is something your reflective peers will need to know if you want them to understand your situation better.

Some helpful questions:

  • How old is the student?
  • What is his/her level according to CEFR, and how balanced are the four skills?
  • What kind of class/group/course is this?
  • How does thinking about this student makes you feel?

One Scenario

Choose ONE situation/event/interaction where your student took part (a recent one, or the most memorable one). Imagine that you are making a picture of this scenario, or telling about this episode to someone who has never been in your classroom, and describe it in as much detail as possible. Please remember that we talk about a situation rather than the whole lesson. This piece, or moment, can be 5-10 minutes long.

Some helpful questions:

  • Where was the student sitting?
  • Where were you (the teacher) standing or sitting?
  • What were the other students doing?
  • What was the task/the activity that this student was doing?
  • What exactly did you, and/or the student say (write)?

Look at the answers you wrote and think about a feeling you had at that moment. Please note that you might not remember all the feelings right now, because the event took place some time ago. Also, your feelings from this distance might change the ‘color’ (something you were angry or frustrated about at that moment may seem different now)

Re-read your description again. If you did not know the student, or your classroom, what else might you want to ask the teacher? Add 1-2 questions, and answer them.

Practice Time

Now, read the description of a situation provided by a reflective teacher Anne (at the moment of writing this blog post she was based in South Korea and was writing about her student; she gave me her kind permission to use this post in our session)

  • What did you notice about the way she described the scenario? How does it compare to the description you created?
  • What would you like to ask Anne about Josh? Write 1-3 questions.
  • Compare with the questions her readers asked in the comments. Mark the questions you were also interested in.


ELC Review


We are using the Experiential Learning Cycle for structured reflection. Which of the five stages have we just been though? – Experience and Description.

Which questions asked by the readers do not fall into the Description stage? – Depending on the time available and the number of people present we might only look at several examples of the questions asking for interpretation (analysis or generalizations). Some examples are:

  • You mention that you were frustrated during the encounter. Do you think that the frustration showed in your voice/body language?
  • He wouldn’t follow your instructions straight away as the others did. Does he need to be asked differently?
  • What motivates him? How does he respond to praise? What kind of praise?

Back to Your Student

  • Are there any questions you would like to add (and answer!) to make the description of your student fuller?

Exchange the descriptions with the reflective peers in your group and be ready to ask and answer further descriptive questions about him/her.

Reflection on Reflection

  • Why is the Description part important?
  • How did it feel to be describing one particular scenario?
  • What information for further reflection do you now have?

If time allows, the small groups will take the experience through the complete Cycle analyzing some possible reasons for specific actions or words, formulating their learning/generalizations about learning and teaching, and coming up with possible action plans to apply.

I am wondering if there is enough time for the complete cycle, or not; whether or not to change the groups (every time there are new listeners the person has to describe the whole thing all over again); whether or not to keep the same focus (and the same student) for the following meeting, or to switch the focus and continue to explore the other stages of the Cycle in more detail.

Looking forward to reading your thoughts and ideas. Thank you for reading! 😉

Teaching Higher Levels

This post was written in the process of preparing for a session on the topic. The audience is going to be mixed: there will be teachers of English, German and French, and their level of English will vary (between A2 and C2). Their experience and qualifications will be different. There are similarities, however: all the teachers share the same L1 (and L2 – in our context, it is Russian and Ukrainian), and all of them have close educational background (MA or BA in TESOL, Applied Linguistics, Translation/Interpreting, or Psychology)

The activity I am sharing in this post is aiming at several purposes during the session: getting to know the audience, learning about their teaching philosophy and beliefs regarding the subject, and ‘probing’ their reflective skills. In order to invite some discussion, I will let the participants read the statements below (in a form of Gallery Walk, most likely) and share their views on it (their and their students’)

mountain-ashes 2

[Note: All of the statements are about/by the students of higher levels. By ‘higher levels’ I personally mean the proficiency levels starting at B2 according to Common European Framework of Reference)]

  1. The lesson pace is unpredictable (something takes longer than you had planned because they are engaged, and vice versa).
  2. It is hard to stop a discussion – there is so much everyone wants to say.
  3. Students don’t need any controlled practice/drills (‘it’s boring/pointless/meaningless, etc’.)
  4. They don’t want to learn grammar and only want to talk more.
  5. Learners make much slower progress than lower level students (beginners).
  6. Students don’t feel/see the progress they make.
  7. Learners don’t want to remember/use any new grammar or words (are feeling comfortable using what they already know)
  8. They don’t like to be corrected.
  9. There are no mistakes to correct.
  10. There is no need to have writing or reading lessons in class (can be done at home).
  11. There is always a mix of levels in one group, especially in terms of speaking accuracy, fluency and confidence.
  12. The focus is on developing communication and culture skills rather than on purely language skills (e. g. presenting skills, polite interruption skill, etc.)
  13. Students are more sensitive and critical to teachers’ choices (whereas at the lower levels they ‘eat’ what you give them)
  14. Sometimes they ask for words or structures that the teacher does not know. 
  15. ___________________________________________________

The activity will appear earlier in the session, and will be followed by a discussion of possible strategies and techniques of working with higher level students.

I would be interested in hearing your thoughts and questions (and opinions!) about the statements above. Which one(s) describe the language learners in your context? In your classroom? Which of the beliefs do you personally share (as a language learner, and as a teacher)? What else have you heard/observed/noticed about how higher level students’ attitude to learning changes? 

Looking forward to reading your comments! 🙂

mountain-ashes 1

Lesson Plans, or Demotivating Teachers

This week I have been preparing a session for language school academic managers on Motivating Teachers. Interestingly, the discussion on Twitter could have had the opposite title: Demotivating Teachers (though written lesson planning), or something similar.

Why so? Let’s take a closer look.

@wanderingELT said on Twitter: ‘I wish I didn’t have to write a formal lesson plan for EVERY lesson I teach 😦

My (almost) immediate response was ‘Hm… does anyone read them? What happens to the plans?

This teacher is apparently working at a private school, where no-one reads lesson plans on a regular basis, but teachers need to have them ‘in case of an inspection’ (so it is probably a chain of schools then, but I am not sure)

One suggestion from Twitter-verse came in complete agreement with how I felt about this: ‘If no-one’s reading them, have just one [lesson plan written] and use it should the inspector come?‘ What it shows (to me, at least, and sorry for stating the obvious) is that (a) it is a formal, or external reason that has nothing to do with teachers’ professional development and (b) the result might have no benefit for students at all. It is probably cultural, but once a law or rule does not make sense, we can create alternatives not even ‘breaking’ them formally. Is this actually passive-aggressive? Not sure about the terminology…

Another thought (again about the same school) sounded a little more positive: ‘We get feedback on one of them once every two weeks by DoS‘. Why a little? Because how many hours of writing falls into the actual teacher growth and learning from the feedback which the DoS will finally provide? Will the teacher have a chance to choose which group s/he wants the feedback on? Will the teacher be asked about this? Not to even mention the amount of work the DoS will have to be doing (how many lesson plans to comment on a regular basis, and what degree of quality does this work have?)

Another big question related to the above: what is the ultimate reason for asking to write written plans for all the lessons? Possibly, it is the hope that by having a written plan a teacher can be ‘officially’ prepared [well, unless it is the way we discussed above, when the writing is done because there will be someone checking the plan] Alternatively, it is an attempt to be accountable (to students, parents, funders, etc.). If so, perhaps other formats might be considered, for example, student surveys, regular tests, international exam results, etc.? Or maybe, it is a way to bring discipline to the teaching team (and always have a formal reason to have a ‘serious conversation’ of any sort?) [same argument as before: once it is a game to play, there are ways to avoid or ‘tweak’ the process]


Clearly, I am taking the teachers’ side in this post. I spent a lot of time in the classroom, and in the craziest years, had a load of 30-45 teaching hours per week (including private students outside school time). Could I imagine writing a formal detailed lesson plan for each and every lesson? Well, no. Did I prepare for the lessons and take notes? Yes.

Here, we come to a more constructive part of the discussion: is there a way to ensure that teachers are prepared, and that the prep time is used as wisely and efficiently as possible? Hopefully, we can. One example from my own experience as an academic leader: we had a school meeting where every teacher brought an example of their planning notes, and they shared the examples and talked about the process of writing. Wish I had taken pictures – you should have seen the variety of forms, formats, styles, handwriting, etc.! After that, we all agreed that each teacher had a manner and habits that were hard to ‘standardize’. The conclusion, and a mutual decision was to have a clear written lesson aim/objective for every lesson, and if a DoS (me) asks about it, it needs to be shown. If there is a developmental observation, happening several times a year, a more detailed plan is submitted. Sometimes those were very detailed, as the teachers chose which group, lesson, level, type of lesson they wanted me to see, and had questions, etc. However, if there was a complaint from students (or corporate customer), a written plan had to be written for the observed lesson. Sometimes, more than once.

Was this ideal? I don’t think so. It is one example of how a dialogue can be created. What else have you seen or tried at your workplace? What was a more successful idea?

Some Twitter examples:

  • Marc, aka @getgreatenglish, said that in theory teachers get paid for prep in UK […] It’s 2 hours of planning and preparation [time] and marking for 30 hours, per week.
  • @Liam_ELT shared a piece of wisdom: make the lesson planning work for you, or you end up preparing twice…

A couple more [50 word] ideas on Lesson Planning with teachers at school and on a training course can be found in pink here

A final thought: if we can’t change a situation, we might try and change our attitude to it. Or… change the situation (change the school, or teach freelance)?

Your thoughts?

Note: this post was not intended to be a summary of the Twitter conversation, so not all the ideas were quoted. If you are interested in the original conversation, follow me (@ZhenyaDnipro) and enjoy it!


Some background:

If I was asked to find a title, or a name, or specify a theme for the professional activities I am engaged in this year, it would be Connecting. Partially, the idea came from Aziz Abu Sarah’s plenary talk at TESOL Convention 2016. Partially, I was inspired by Parag Khanna’s TED Talk. As a global strategist and futurist, he shared the idea and term of  Connectography used now instead of geography and reflecting the global tendency to create shared communities and projects.

I am working on connecting ELT professionals and organizations here in Ukraine. Ok, this sounds too ambitious and unrealistic. Let me try again: I am trying to put in touch the professionals in our field who, for one reason or another, feel isolated at the moment and are searching for groups, networks and communities to belong to. The levels or ‘layers’ of connections I am (gradually) creating are the following:

teachers: freelancing or working for a specific company (for example, IT-company teachers)

directors of studies/academic managers of small language centers (not belonging to any chains of schools and not having a pool of colleagues for help and questions, when needed)

language school directors/owners (this is a tricky group, because they are often doing the job of an academic manager, and teach classes!)

teacher trainers: again, freelancing or working for a specific center

[Note 1: I hope to write about the development, or a failure of these ideas in this blog!]

[Note 2: I am not doing all this alone – instead, I am lucky to have found like-minded people to connect to/with! :-)]

Barge on Dnipro the river

In this post, I would like to share some ideas about the last group: teacher trainers. On the one hand, it is a category of independent people (both socially and financially) who might not seek any group to be a member of. There are teacher training associations internationally, for example, IATEFL Teacher Development Special Interest Group, and membership there might be/feel enough. Maybe. On the other hand, there is little (or no?) trainer development once you get your training license. The biggest professional development discoveries often happen on a course we are working on, and sometimes these great learnings and highlights simply stay in our training journals, blogs (if they can make it this far), or conference presentations (the best scenario?).

In the light of the above, I have an idea for a Teacher Trainer Round Table session. It is a 60-90 minute session pencilled for early November in Kiev. The expected audience will be practicing teacher trainers working in Ukraine and internationally, newly licensed trainers and experienced teachers interested in or planning to become trainers.

The following is my brainstormed outline for the content of this session. At the end of it, I will share two questions to the readers, and will appreciate your honest feedback in the comments!

Teacher Trainer Round Table session

Dream: creating a training community in Ukraine

Session goal: ‘test waters’ and research the needs of trainers in my context


Why it might be great to create such a community:

  • Socialize and get to know colleagues (and potential project partners)
  • Explore/establish Professional Development opportunities for trainers/educators
  1. contextualize/adapt international ELT ideas to the culture in Ukraine
  2. adapt the approaches to various levels of language proficiency (especially state schools)
  3. exchange and accumulate training experiences
  4. help others become teacher trainers/supervisors/advisors/mentors at their workplaces
  5. further develop training, reflective and soft/people skills
  6. organize professional development events
  7. brainstorm possible projects in Ukraine (and abroad)
  8. …? your ideas?

What the community members could do:

  • reflect on their courses/experiences/participants in safe/friendly environment
  • develop skills to become trainers of trainers
  • share tips on becoming a freelance educational consultant
  • present on international conferences, [registering as a group might cut costs]
  • co-author courses
  • publish materials
  • promote learner-centered teaching culture
  • …? your ideas?

How this could be done (sample ways)

  • face-to-face meet ups
  • observing each other’s courses/sessions
  • co-presenting
  • online meetings: Skype, webinars, social media, etc.
  • (co-) blogging
  • …? your ideas?

My questions: Would you like to be a member of such a group? What questions would like to be answered before making the decision?

Thank you for reading! 🙂

Difficult Conversations

I was also thinking to call this post ‘More on Soft Skills’, since I am returning to the topic I already wrote about here .

My current project motivates to me to reflect a lot. Traveling ‘down memory lane’ (sorry for the cliché!) I have been looking through my notes on various instances/aspects I was dealing with as the Director of Studies (DoS), in order to create a list of ‘cases’ to use for the project.

In the above mentioned post I was writing about the lack of soft/people skills, or the ‘How’ to deal with a variety of situations and people a new DoS would most likely face in the new role. I was also writing that such skills are not usually ‘taught’ explicitly (especially not as a part of TESOL/Applied Linguistics major, or intensive training courses as initial teaching qualification). Moreover, these skills are not even part of a course when you are becoming a trainer (that is a different topic to discuss though)

I find articles on Harvard Business Review blog very helpful for the ‘management’ side of our ELT world. Specifically, these two posts made me want to write this time:

When to Skip a Difficult Conversation with the eleven questions helping us decide when and how to approach the conversation, and what might be a reason to skip it completely. Quoting them below.

  1. Based on what I know about this person and our relationship, what can I realistically hope to achieve by having the conversation?
  2. What is my “secret agenda” or “hidden hope” for this conversation? (Long-term harmony? Revenge? That they will change?)
  3. What concrete examples do I have to share of how this issue has shown up?
  4. What’s my contribution to the situation?
  5. Do I tend to look for problems with this person or about this issue?
  6. Is it already starting to resolve itself?
  7. How long ago did it arise? Is it a repeat or recurring problem? Could it become one?
  8. How “material” is the issue to our relationship or to the job?
  9. How committed am I to being “right”?
  10. What reasonable, actionable solution can I offer?
  11. Is this the right person to talk to about this issue?

A Mental Trick to Help with Challenging Conversations, a quote from which is a good reminder about being aware of and communicating positive regard:

Only when you become mindful of your biases can you choose a more constructive path. Positive assumptions make you open to progress; negative assumptions mire you in the past.

Taken in Barcelona. Summer 2015.

Taken in Barcelona. Summer 2015.

Examples of difficult conversations (a mixture of a DoS and Trainer issues)

Observing and giving feedback to a more experienced colleague

Communicating with a course participant about being in danger of not receiving the training course certificate (the competencies not being met)

Talking to a parent who is not happy with the progress (often, with the grade) the child received at their state school

Talking to a student who feels she is not making enough progress (not meeting the learning goal)

Reminding a teacher to complete the additional paperwork the school is experimenting with

Talking to a course participant about their group work skills (several other participants mentioned that it is hard to work with him/her in group lesson planning)

Having a meeting with senior management on re-structuring the school departments in the new academic year (discussing the changes it brings to the teaching team)

Negotiating a salary raise

Talking to… (what can you add?)

The longer the list gets, the clearer I see that perhaps any type of conversation at a school/on a course might be seen as ‘difficult’ at some point (under certain circumstances, in a certain culture/context, etc.) I wonder if having those 11 questions in mind might help. I wonder if being aware of the soft skills might change the perception of a situation. I wonder what else can help.

Finally, would like to add a link to a post by the Secret DoS On Dealing with Difficult People .The quote I especially like says:

‘There are no difficult people, but there are ways of reacting to people that can cause you difficulties’.

I could also add that there are no difficult people — it is specific conversations that might be/feel this way. Fortunately, there are strategies to make them easier, smoother, more meaningful… Softer?

Thank you for reading! 🙂

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Dawn Wink: Dewdrops

Writing, Teaching, Language, Landscape, Life

Teacher Sherrie - The Road Less Travelled

Reflections on teaching, learning and various research interests

An A-Z of ELT

Scott Thornbury's blog

Christopher Graham's Teacher Development Blog

Practical thoughts for the ELT classroom.

Do-Nothing Teaching

and other musings on the art of teaching

iTDi Blog

for teachers by teachers

My Elt Rambles

A blog about Life and Teaching English

Rennert New York TESOL Center | TESOL/TESL/TEFL Certification

Teach English as a Second Language | Tips and Ideas


Follow me as I'm learning teaching


Ideas for creating immersive learning experiences

Vicky Loras's Blog

A Blog About Education

Willy Cardoso

education | training | development | language | philosophy | complexity

ELT Stew

Random thoughts on all things related to teaching or learning a language

ELT Diary

A diary for writing down, reflecting on and sharing my ELT experience

Demand High ELT

A discussion about re-inventing our profession

ELT on the Rocks

A place to share my journey in ELT hoping it helps me grow into the lifelong learner I want to be

pains and gains of a teacher woman

how teaching becomes learning

A new day, a new thing

My goal to learn something new every day

Learner as Teacher

Reflections on teaching and learning

*1000 Words Weekly*

Medium-form posts on work and life by an ELT person. Once or twice a week...


A blog about...well, see if you can guess

ROSE BARD - Teaching Journal

“The more radical the person is, the more fully he or she enters into reality so that, knowing it better, he or she can transform it. This individual is not afraid to confront, to listen, to see the world unveiled.― Paulo Freire

Ljiljana Havran's Blog

My English language teaching & learning adventure

Diary of a Newbie CELTA Trainer

...and thoughts about this and that in ELT (a personal blog: all nonsense is mine!)

close up

on teaching, learning and language

A Muse Amuses

Neil McMahon's Blog


A TEYL blog

TEFL Material

EFL lesson plans and resources I had lying around on my laptop