I Don’t Like Games in Class

I was asked to run a session for teachers about using games in the ESL/EFL classroom. I can’t say I love the topic, or that I have a lot of ‘expert knowledge’ to share, at the same time I have a couple of ideas and insights on the topic. For these 60 minutes with teachers I don’t want to end up offering and playing a bunch of  classroom games, and my session title (hopefully!) communicates this.

image credit: pixabay

So… games in the classroom. Thinking about the topic, I did the following: 

  1. asked my #PLN (Personal Learning Network) on Twitter and in the Reflective Practice Group what kind of resources and ideas they would suggest focusing on in the session.
  2. attended Dr. Deborah Healey’s webinar for Macmillan Education (highly recommend reading this article by the speaker
  3. looked through my own notes from various courses to pick some of the favorite ideas that often help me in the classroom or training room
  4. had conversations about games in the classroom with my colleagues, face-to-face and online. 
  5. am writing this post 🙂

Who will the audience be?

It is hard to predict the exact type of audience in this event, but I anticipate there will be teachers from private or semi-private sector in Ukraine, who are actively searching for variety and creativity in their classrooms, and using the winter vacation time for CPD and growth.

What will the session be about? 

After looking at/reviewing some definitions (e.g. games, gamification, game-based learning, hard fun, serious games, educational games, etc.), we will reflect on the games that are being used in the teachers’ classrooms. [this may be tricky, as I am not familiar with the audience]. I will then share some possible ways I have tried to ‘gamify’ my lessons and/or training courses, and if time allows, there will be a time to create a new(er) type of game element for the teachers’ contexts. 

What will the session outcomes be like?

Having only 60 minutes for the topic as broad and large as this one, I don’t want to go ‘broad and shallow’, tackling many areas and not coming up with anything specific. I would like each session participant to be confident and inspired that there are resources in his/her ‘arsenal’ to bring game elements into the lessons they plan and teach. Letting them create a list of 2-4 concrete ideas to gamilfy a specific lesson (or a part of a lesson) would be something tangible and observable for me by the end of that hour. 

What kind of reading could be done before the session?

Some questions to continue our conversation:

  • Do you like games in your classroom/training room? (why and why not?)
  • Have you ever taught a game-based lesson (GBL)? Do you see GBL as a separate lesson planning framework? 
  • What aspects of your teaching have you ‘gamified’? Would like to gamilfy?
  • What questions about using games in the classroom do you ask yourself (and/or others?)
  • Do your students like games in class? How do you know?

Update: please take a look at the session slides here. Feedback is appreciated!

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Blog Birthday: 6!

My blog is turning 6 years old this month. It was my 6th Twitter-versary yesterday, and I got a reminder from Twitter with a suggestion to celebrate the occasion with a tweet. Which I did 🙂

I created the blog in October 2013, but then it took me about 2 months to actually hit the ‘publish’ button for the first time. I started writing in December 2013 with a ‘self-challenge’ to post every day for a month. I think I managed to post only 16 days in a row (at least this is what the Archive section on the main page shows)

6 down

How come I had this much energy and time for writing in December that year? It is not like that every year of my life. This time though, I would like to pause and feel the reflective mood of this month, and take a chance to think back to the year and see what was important, what was achieved and what was not. [Note to self: this might be a whole new post in the near future]

This blog was initially designed for sharing some of my ‘archived’ ideas from the teaching times, and had imagined it would be mostly ‘ELT’ conversations about good/best teaching practices. Somehow, the blog turned into a reflective narration (or lounge, really) for various ideas and projects I was/have been taking part in, my ‘preparation lab’ or a place to have a quick ‘trainer chat’. This blog turned into a space where I am comfortable to invite my colleagues and friends, and to even co-write some of the posts together, or interview them about the ideas they are passionate about. At some point, my fellow Ukrainian ELT-ers started reading this blog, and this motivates me even more.

Now, 150 posts later, I would like to keep writing. I dream to bring more like-minded ELT-ers here in the coming year. I hope to share how my (creative) learning about teaching and training continues. I am sure I will have questions to ask you!

What would you like to see (more of) on this blog? Is there a topic or a question we could write about together? A conversation we started offline or on Twitter (or at a conference?) that could turn into something bigger? Let me know please!

Finally, I want to thank you all for helping me stay connected with the international ELT world through this small sharing lounge, for the chance to throw in my thoughts and questions, challenges and tangles, solutions and options, listicles and paragraphs out. I really value the readers’ caring eyes to stop by, think together, and possibly respond. 

Till new posts!

What’s the future holding?

Image credit: pixabay.com/users/InspiredImages

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Your Feedback Method Does Not Work!

My colleague (fellow trainer and former participant on a short trainer skills course), came up for a quick hallway conversation at a conference in Kyiv, Ukraine. She said she had been thinking of me lately, and then made a comment which became a title of this post. By ‘your way’ (of giving feedback) my colleague meant my gentle and respectful way of talking to teachers. I was very curious! Having very little time for a more in-depth conversation, I asked just one question: ‘Did the teacher you were trying to give feedback to want any feedback? Did s/he ask for it?‘ As you may guess, the answer was ‘no‘.

I am hoping to catch up with my friend and to hear the full story (with our busy schedules and travels, it seems hard!) Meanwhile, I started thinking what IS ‘my feedback style’? Being polite and respectful in the way I talk to a teacher is a part of it (and very important part!) but what else makes it ‘my way’?

I then recalled a ‘feedback conversation’ with my friend and colleagues Ron Bradley** (who is also a fellow trainer and trainer of trainers, and a reader and commenter on this blog). Ron commented on my Trainer Integrity post and recalled ‘The Green Zone Gift Box’ activity he did on a course for teachers and trainers. 

Reminded by that hallway conversation I thought to share our chats with Ron about this feedback attitude, beliefs and metaphors. Hope you enjoy reading it!

** you can find more information about Ron at the end of the post**


Zhenya: So Ron, could you tell me more about this activity?

Ron: ‘The Green Zone Gift Box’ was a session I came up with for a group of participants/trainers in Turkey. The ‘green zone’, or ‘communal zone’, refers to a puzzle activity used to build team cohesiveness. It was created and delivered in response to one participant (and the group leader) from the Ministry of Education. [By virtue of his position, he thought he carried authority and gave feedback as such]. In the green zone,  jig-saw puzzle pieces are shared without regard to the person or ego. Once an idea is given up/shared/placed in the metaphorical green box, it no longer has one’s authorship, or ego attached.

One example of such puzzle activity from Business Balls free materials collection can be found here.

Zhenya: How does it work in relation to feedback on someone’s lesson?

Ron: When a piece of feedback is placed (metaphorically) into the Green Zone Gift Box and when retrieved by the receiver, the ideas, suggestions, criticisms have no ownership and can be regarded or rejected without the reference to the giver and therefore potential bad feels and possible rejection.

Zhenya: What you said reminded me of one feedback metaphor ‘Candy on the Table’ (I wrote a post about it a long time ago). If we imagine that the green space is the ‘table’, the picture may have to change this way.

Ron: Yes, exactly: once the feedback piece is given up in the Green Zone Gift Box, there is no ownership of the idea[s]…not until they are picked up by the receiver of the gift. The shared ideas or feedback are read in private, so to speak, with no response or reaction given to the giver (after all, the giver is unknown). It is the receiver’s choice as to what to do with the ideas or feedback—accept and act upon, or reject.

Zhenya: Makes sense to me! What if, for example, there is a question or clarification needed? Can there be a dialogue?

Ron: If some clarification is needed, the receiver may seek it from the giver and/or do further research until the receiver feels comfortable and confident. The Green Zone Gift Box can be metaphorical or actually implemented.

The Green Box Theory of Feedback. Developed by Ron Bradley, Global TEFL

Zhenya: Ron, thank you for this conversation and idea sharing. I love the feedback discussion questions on the slide.


Now, back to the title of the post: I really don’t believe there could be ‘the’ feedback method or style, always working, with anyone we are talking to. There is no ‘right’ method, I think. To me, putting a candy on the table and letting the teacher decide whether or not s/he wants to eat it is crucial. By doing so, I am aware I can hear ‘No thanks!’ in reply.

Questions to Readers:

What do you think about the Green Zone Gift Box and Candy on the Table? What other feedback metaphors do you use?

Thank you for reading!

**A more formal introduction: Ron Bradley is a senior teacher trainer and trainer of trainers with World Learning SIT Graduate Institute, and he is a very experienced and well travelled ELT-er (a trainer, trainer of trainers, educational consultant, online course facilitator, U.S. State Department English Language Specialist) I had a chance to co-train with Ron on several courses in South Korea, and we have been in touch for years sharing training and teaching ideas and insights.**

In Daejeon, South Korea, many years ago 🙂

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Trainer Conversations: Your Own Session

If you read my blog from time to time you may know about our EduHub Teacher Sharing Day initiative in Dnipro, Ukraine, I have co-organized three times so far. Following this link, you will learn more about our ELT Pecha Kucha Hour, with more links to the earlier posts.

The latest event was in November 2019, with a theme ‘ELT Approaches and Formats

One of our speakers was Valentina Popova**, my friend and colleague based in Kyiv. During the event, and afterwards via e-mail we spoke about possible ways to start small workshops for her colleagues, as it is the first time she is planning to offer her own project as a ‘trainer-preneur’. This post will share our conversation about the event details in the form of questions and answers. You are more than welcome to join our chat!

** Please scroll to the end of the post to learn more about Valentina.

Her session title was ‘CLIL: from Enigma to Routine‘, and the description said the following:

‘Have you always been captivated by the idea of bringing some effective modern techniques into your classroom? You can easily do it implementing the CLIL method. Attend the session if you want to know what it is, how it works, and why it is considered to be efficient. In the session we are also going to talk about planning a CLIL lesson, and try planning it for your students.’

Questions and answers about organizing a workshop for teachers:

1) How do I advertise it? Just post on my Facebook profile as a status update? 

I think starting from Facebook is a good step, although, I would think of a person (at least one) who would be potentially interested to come. You will know there is one person, so if no-one else shows up, it will be a professional conversation.

I would also contact people on social media directly and ask about the topic, the day, the time, etc. In a way, start a conversation about it, get them curious, and also ask to spread the word. I know it sounds like investing time, but if you are planning long-term, should be a good investment. Later, people will advertise it by sharing happy posts and pictures, etc. Just my thoughts.

2) Is 3 weeks in advance enough?

For a start, I think it is. Later, in the month [we talked about December], everyone will focus on gifts and holidays.

3) What minimum number of People would you consider?

To me personally, four participants is a good starting number. The more the better, but  three people is a hard number for me (the same is true for the lessons with students) Again, it is a very personal opinion. I am a big believer of ‘starting small’ and then growing, rather than the other way around 🙂

4) And of course the burning question is the price)) I don’t want to make it expensive but like I mentioned before, who doesn’t pay, that doesn’t care)

Yes, there is a belief about being free meaning not being good quality. Interesting that our Reflective Practice Group in Dnipro seems to be an exception (our 4th season started this September) Now, I am not a marketing person to calculate the price, but I’d think of a comfortable sum for an hour of work (for the delivery of the session) and add some more for the marketing/prep effort. And/or compare with what the others charge in Kyiv. I think all cities in Ukraine are very different in terms of tuition fee, and income/wages, etc. 

Questions to readers:

  1. How would you answer to the questions above, taking your context into account?
  2. If you were starting out a teacher training project for teachers in your area, what else would you want to ask, or keep in mind?

Thank you for reading!


Valentina is a holder of CELTA and IHCYLT certificates and has been teaching English for 18 years. She is currently teaching English, Maths, Science, Geography, History and Reasoning to primary-school children at a British school called Oxford Prime Academy in Kyiv, Ukraine, and implements CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) method every day. Valentina’s entire work rests on the following premise: only if students (regardless of age) enjoy the process of learning, the outcomes can be successful.

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A Class Journal

In my recent post ‘A Different Look at Writing’ I told you about a conference session I had been preparing for. This time I am sharing one idea from that session which I am referring to as ‘A class journal’.

I have wanted to try out this idea for years, but did not have a chance (or the courage?) to do so. In Ukraine the idea of keeping a journal is not very popular (if I may generalize so), and not many friends I know keep one. (Well, at least one friend keeps hers, and she even wrote a guest post about it!)

When I was a participant on a training course for teachers we had to keep daily journal and our tutor would read it (daily!) and leave responses to each of us. Sometimes, they were as long as one full page! Having become a trainer myself I am still amazed how organized she was to keep this writing routine through the whole 4 weeks!

The ‘Class Journal’ idea was something I heard from a fellow trainer during of our numerous ‘coffee chats’. She told me about a notebook she started for a new course, which was kept in the classroom and course participants would come and write in it when they felt they needed to share something. People could start their own page or respond to someone else’s entry. I really, really liked the idea of it, but have never done on an actual course being afraid to add one more written assignment to the already long ‘to-do’ list our participants have.

Finally, I decided to give it a try in a different format, and came up with an idea for this element of a session about writing. I thought that sharing it with colleagues at a conference may be a safer idea than trying it out on a course. So….

… the idea of the journal is to offer a notebook with page starters (topics, prompts, questions, quotes, pictures, etc.) for teachers to pass around the room and respond in writing on a page of their choice, or randomly. These were the instructions shared on the first page:

  1. Open the journal on any page.
  2. Read the title/the task
  3. Respond (by writing as much or as little as you feel like)
  4. Close the journal and pass it to someone else

Since I have tried this in a session for a couple of times now, I added a couple of ‘what if’ questions.


  • someone else has already written there?
  • (a) respond to the title/the task (b) respond to the writer
  • … I have no idea what to write?
  • Turn the page over and try again
  • … I don’t want to write on this page?
  • If you have looked at three pages and did not feel like writing, just pass the journal to someone else

Some Topics from the actual journal


Some thoughts on reflection

I have a friend and a colleague here in Lviv who usually listens to my ideas with full attention and then asks good critical questions helping me think about the idea in-depth. When I told her about the journal, this is what Natalia (her name is) asked me (and what I replied)

Natalia: What exactly could be the purpose (the point) of bringing this kind of task to students?

Zhenya: I mainly see the purpose/aim in helping students develop fluency in their writing, the ability to think of the ideas (not the language, or before the language) and then respond. I deeply believe in the idea that you can’t edit a blank page.

Natalia: So what would you do if the writing is not accurate and it stays in the journal?

Zhenya: I don’t think it is a big crime to edit the written entry (in a different color, by the same student). Also, color post-its can be used for drafting an entry and then re-writing the new piece on the actual page. In a way, this gives a reason for draft 2, which in my experience, students are not always happy to work on in a lesson.

Natalia: What if a student does not want to write in it? What if the whole group refuses to do it?

Zhenya: In fact, if the whole group refuses to write in a journal, it is easiest answer: stop bringing it to class! Sometimes, it may take time, as with any new(-ish) idea from us teachers. I am not saying that this is the best idea ever!

Natalia: How would you introduce the idea to your students?

Zhenya: Hm, this is a good question. I guess with students we could do it in a scaffolded way, with a specific page as an example, having peer responses and discussions at the end of it. Then, the idea of having writing prompts can be shared, and a class journal can be one way of developing the skill of (fluent) writing. I wonder if students could contribute to the topics/page headings, and thus feel more engaged with the jornal from the very start?

Natalia: I know students who hate hand-writing, and this journal will force them to do it. What can be done in this case?

Zhenya: I like this question! I think the journal does not need to be in the actual paper notebook and could easily be on a shared Google Document or in Drop Box folder, for example, or in a Facebook Group, etc. I think the format can be chosen by the students and with the students, depending on their comfort level with sharing what they write. Paper notebook offers a ‘safe’ classroom experience (a learning zone) whereas sharing what they write on social media is closer to the ‘performing zone’ (see Eduardo Briceño’s TED Talk for more on these zones)

What do you think about this idea? Would you like to try it out in the classroom with students (or a training room with teachers?) Have you tried something similar?

Thank you for reading!


Extra Links


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A Different Look at Writing

I have been preparing for a conference presentation which I called ‘A different Look at Writing’. 

The session description says: Do you like writing? Do your students like writing? We will experience several writing activities and discuss how to get excited about the writing process. We will see if we can teach writing in a different way, and how this skill can be used in other aspects of teachers’ lives.

First, let me share a couple of assumptions I am making about the attitude to writing (or its image) teachers may hold. [Note: I have talked to my colleagues in Ukraine about this, and I have run this session at our EduHub event in Dnipro earlier this year, so they seem to be true at least for my colleagues here]


  1. Teachers like speaking more than writing (in L1, in L2)
  2. Teachers don’t (often/always) write much in their everyday life outside teaching.
  3. Teachers (may) project their attitude to writing to students
  4. Writing is harder than (the least comfortable among) the other language skills (both for teachers and students), and both in L1 and L2. 
  5. Students (may) need the skill of writing in English to reach the life goals they are setting

The session idea: if you [the teacher] write (in English) in the real life outside teaching (for business, for pleasure, etc.) you (may) see this skill/process differently in the classroom, and this may change your attitude to teaching writing, choosing methods and activities, etc.

Now, the last sentence of the description suggests that there are different ways in which the skill of writing can be used in our lives, and I decided to make a list of how it helps me personally. So yes…

writing plays an important part in my life

  • as a professional development tool (well, you are reading this post on my blog…)
  • as an ‘idea catcher’ (I always have a note book with me when I travel, and when there is not paper around you can see me texting notes on my phone)
  • as a ‘creative warmer’ for a new project (with a timer on, I like to brainstorm possible options or alternatives for tasks, and having 3-5 of them is often enough to start working out the details)
  • problem-solving tool (can be also seen as a decision-making tool) for weighing pros and cons of something, or analyzing options and alternatives, or offering them to my project partner, etc. 
  • reflective practice tool (almost the same as professional development but in this can more systematic/structured
  • ‘calming down’ tool or a kind of meditation (for example, the Morning Pages idea from Julia Cameron, which I have never managed to work on systematically or at length) 
  • thinking tool (the difference between this one and all the mentioned above is that the ideas come from the process of writing, and my mind gets clear, and new connections are visible, and… lots of other magic things may occur)
  • planning, or capturing tool: as David Allen puts it, ‘your mind is for generating ideas but not for holding them’
  • something that brings me to the state of flow

What about you? What is your relationship with writing? What role does writing play in your (ELT) life? In what way your writing experience outside the classroom impact the way(s) you are teaching this skill? 

Thank you for reading!

P.S. this post is about an activity I used in that session (A Class Journal)

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TT: Training and Trainer

Earlier this month I wrote a post about a project for experienced teachers of English in Ukraine we won a grant for.

One of the reasons for writing it was my preparation for a presentation in Kyiv informing the audience about this opportunity. The session was called ‘Teacher Training Essentials 2020’ and the abstract said the following:

The title describes the name of a program and the year of its launch. In Ukraine people sometimes refer to themselves as ‘teacher trainers’ after delivering a workshop for colleagues, or speaking at a conference. ‘Training’ sounds like something ‘higher’ (and better?) than teaching. My session will be a conversation starter, and an invitation to look deeper into the meaning of helping teachers grow as opposed to ‘training’ them.

As a part of my preparation for the session I asked my fellow trainers and PLN-ers (blog readers and Twitter followers) to complete two sentences sharing their beliefs about teacher training:

As promised, I am sharing the results. I am full of gratitude to everyone who found the time to respond!

Teacher Training is __________.

  • a continuous and collaborative process, for the trainer themselves, as well as teachers
  • effective if teacher trainers engage their trainees in critical reflection on theory and practice, and thus encourage them to constantly challenge received opinion and orthodox ELT practices
  • based on the teachers’ experiences
  • going to teach you a list of things you’ll have to actually teach yourself in your own classroom.
  • about raising awareness and becoming better at what you chose to be your profession
  • an opportunity to share my teaching experience, brush up on my knowledge and get a lot of new knowledge and experience at the same time
  • helping teachers help their learners learn better
  • the founding ground for anybody willing to work in the educational field as well as the bottomless platform for continuous growth.

Zhenya’s brainstormed list (many things are similar!)

  • responsibility
  • leading, serving and helping
  • having a helper/mentor you wanted to have
  • an exciting job
  • hard work and fun
  • a number of skills
  • further development as a teacher
  • facilitating discussions
  • an occupation/profession in ELT

Teacher Trainer is not (necessarily) _______.

  • someone who has completed a program that is accredited specifically for this purpose
  • a native speaker or someone with a PhD, but should be someone with plenty of practical teaching experience
  • someone who *just* gives workshops at conferences
  • someone who can give you the answers, but they will help you figure out what questions to ask and where to look for your individual solutions
  • a guru who tells you how to teach in your classroom but rather raises the right questions.
  • a person who knows everything and wants to TEACH how to teach, but a kind of an open-minded facilitator for other teachers who shares knowledge and experience, inspires and shows a way to self-development)))
  • the one who knows all the answers. For me it’s always important to notice what a teacher does that I’d never think of, but it works well for the learner(s)
  • a person who is aware of all the world information regarding their field, neither do they have to be knowledgeable about global issues
  • ignorant of world changes and is NOT dogmatic, with their ideas set in stone

Zhenya’s brainstormed list:

  • a guru
  • an expert
  • a constant presenter/speaker
  • above the teachers, not a teacher’s boss
  • a step in the career ladder

Thoughts: my good friend and fellow trainer messaged and asked if I wanted to ask what people thought teacher training is/is not about, and/or teacher trainer is/is not about. I wonder if doing it in the reverse order now would be helpful? For example, to me, being a teacher trainer is about being in the state of ‘becoming’, having ‘beginner’s mind’ (shoshin), or an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions. No matter how experienced I am, or how many training courses are run, this ‘zero attitude‘ helps.

So… what about the beliefs shared above:

  • Are some of them the same or close to your mind/heart? Please comment/respond.
  • Are some of them different/opposite? Please comment/respond.

Thank you for reading!

P.S. If you are a teacher of English from Ukraine, you may want to apply for our Trainer Training Program yourself, or pass the information to someone thinking to become a trainer or an academic leader in ELT in the near future.

This page will have more information. Soon.

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News: Teacher Training Essentials

Earlier this summer my colleague and fellow trainer with World Learning/SIT trainer Liliia and myself applied for a grant and guess what… we won! In the coming academic year (2019/20) we will be managing the program and running the course for teacher trainers in Ukraine together. The title is Teacher Training Essentials 2020. Some more information on this page

As you can see, we are at a very initial stage of preparation for the program  (don’t even have a separate site or page for it yet!). I just wanted to share the piece of news with you, and to say that some posts in the coming school year will be about teacher training and trainer training. Hope it is fine with you. 

I will be giving a short talk about the program at a Teacher Training Day in Kyiv next week. If you happen to have extra 3 minutes on your hands, could you please help me prepare for the talk by completing these sentences in the comments: 

  1. Teacher Training is __________.
  2. Teacher Trainer is NOT (necessarily) __________.
  3. (optional) Ask a question about the program based on its description. We are thinking to offer it as a handout/follow up after my talk. 

I am still figuring out the format of the talk and ‘playing’ with ways to engage the audience. Advice and ideas appreciated! 

Thank you for reading, and stay tuned!

Update on 25 November: here is our Teacher Training Space site with more information about the program, and if you scroll to the very end, you will see the Application Form. Looking forward to reading yours till 25 December 2019!

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Anonymous Notes as Feedback

I got this e-mail from a colleague earlier this year (sharing below with slight edits):

I am writing to ask for your help with my upcoming little research I plan to carry out with teachers in my area. More specifically, after two years of supervising and providing in-service opportunities I am eager to find out the impact of all that I did so far on their teaching performance.

Do you have any suggestions on how such feedback can be collected? Have you ever faced the situation in which you tried to evaluate the impact or effectiveness of your training on teachers’ performance?

Some initial thoughts in reply:

  • creating a culture of offering honest feedback is important (especially when you will be seeing the same people again, and in the culture where relationships are important)
  • teaching how to structure feedback (using the ELC, for example, insisting on ‘description first’ rule, no matter who the feedback is for (students, parents, peers, trainers, etc.)
  • creating a habit to offer/ask for feedback (every session, every week, etc.)
  • ‘owning’ one’s feedback, being ready to sign one’s name (and feeling secure to do so, confident that a listener can open up)
  • culture and habit of acting on feedback (so that teachers saw the effect of what they said)
  • (which often comes to changing one’s own attitude to receiving feedback, being ready to accept it)
  • ultimately, feedback is about mutual trust between you and teachers (so the task for a trainer is to model that for teachers, and potentially, their students)

How it is sometimes done on the training courses I facilitate

Categories are provided on some color cards, and participants write on each of them. They work individually.

  • everyone has a chance to write and ‘be heard’ by the trainers (more chance to learn about the individual ideas)
  • teachers who prefer to mention their name can do so (trainers can offer a follow-up in person)

Same (or different) categories are listed, and participants write on an A-4 poster in pairs (OR a larger poster in a group). Teachers may discuss and agree on the ideas to share.

  • everyone has a chance to discuss the ideas
  • the ‘most important points’ get to paper (more chance to learn about the group ideas/tendencies)

Exit tickets is something teachers do in their lessons, and we trainers can of course borrow this practice. A simple idea: before leaving the room, a form is filled in, but the format can vary) In the image below is a new idea I got from my colleague in Ukraine but have not yet tried in my training:

Online surveys, for example

  • Padlet: very visual immediately, names mentioned
  • Google Form: easy to analyze, e-mail addresses mentioned
  • MonkeySurvey: can be kept anonymous, but the number of questions in the free version is limited

Extra reading

More links, and discussion in the comments (with even more links!)

A couple of non-ELT sources I love: this post from Forbes, and Thanks for the Feedback (a book by HBR authors). 

A hobby of mine is collecting various feedback forms that are not related to ELT world: for example, at a cafe or a restaurant, airlines, travel agencies, banks, etc. 

What are some ideas for collecting feedback from your lessons, training sessions or conference presentations that you have tried and found successful/efficient? Or… vice versa? 

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Focus on/in/for 2020

My One Word resolution for the coming 2020 is ‘Focus‘.

I am choosing this word as a verb (to pay particular attention to), and as a noun (an act of concentrating interest or activity on something). Without separating the personal and professional aspects of my life, focusing more on what I am doing at the moment would impact my productivity. I would like to focus more on ‘deep work’ and avoid distractions as much as I can.

Focus is…

I have tried picking a word for one year before. For example, my 2014 word was ‘attention‘ and 2016 was about ‘kindness‘. 2018 was ‘curiosity‘ and I still keep my notes with interesting findings about myself and the world. 

You may ask why I am doing the ‘one word resolution’ instead of writing out concrete SMART aims and objectives for the year. The first reason is that… I don’t know how people are making those concrete and clear yearly plans (Is it a special calendar? Is it a list of things to achieve?) I heard that someone writes a letter to themselves (e.g. on Future Me) and receive an e-mail one year later with the text of goals/dreams/wishes from themselves 365 days before) I read on social media earlier this week about someone who writes a real letter by hand, seals the envelope and then opens it at the end of December one year after. I think these are great ideas, especially for the people organized enough to pull the complete cycle through. My fear (and the second reason for not writing my goals down) is that I may forget about the ideas I put there, whereas having only one word in focus means it would be always with me, every day of the year, and I will be able to ‘reflect in action’ using it as a lens, or criterium. Maybe.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

The third and perhaps my main reason for choosing this word is that I feel the need to find a (more) specific vector or destination to the ELT work I have been doing. In the last decade (and it is a topic for another post, I think) I have tried a number of projects in teacher training, mentoring new trainers, writing and running courses for teachers online and face-to-face, designing curriculum (and even piloting it a couple of times), working for large organizations, co-creating a product (and not launching it), consulting, and so on. I like what I have been doing, but finding a more specific niche and focusing all my energy and effort on it would/should/could be productive. I feel I need and must try this approach.

One difficult aspect of being focused (for me) is the need to say ‘No’ to the cool projects and activities that will (possibly) be outside of the areas of my focus/choice. Difficult but inevitable, some may say, so I will start practicing it more. 

One interesting thing about OneWord365 site is that you can see who chose the same word, and what reasons they had. Some people wrote a post on their blogs/pages, so we can get to know each other better. For example, here I see that I am not alone with this word in mind for the coming year

  • How are you planning your year? Is there a system (you don’t mind sharing)?
  • If you were choosing one word for the whole year, what would it be?

P.S. Almost unrelated but this idea from Eat Pray Love (book and movie) may be turned into a classroom activity. Or perhaps the whole One Word discussion could turn into an interesting post-holiday lesson starter. Let me know if you give it a try in your classroom.

Happy New Year to all the readers! May only the great things from 2019 stay with you, and the rest remains in the past. May your dreams turn into goals and reality, and your life brings joy and happiness to yourself and your loved ones. 


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