In the Boat

‘Boat Afloat!’ was a sub-theme of our Teacher Sharing Day about a year ago. Like (possibly) anyone who used to work with small kids, I love elements of arts and crafts in my lessons and sessions. On that day, all the conference attendees made their own paper boat to symbolize that we ourselves are the source of our own power and inspiration. Some pictures that captured that moment can be found in this post.

One year later, and we are on a global quarantine. All in the same boat (it may at times feel like it is made of paper…) No, this is not a post about teaching online, creating (a)synchronous courses for learners and even parents, sharing a list of new online applications or endless opportunities for reflection and professional development the ‘stay at home time’ is offering. 

Photo by Johannes Plenio on


One metaphor I recently encountered has been on my mind for a couple of days now: when we are in the boat, we can’t choose the way the sea ‘behaves’. The sea around us can be stormy or steel, calm or furious, ______ or ______ (please think of more adjectives for me!). While we can’t control the sea or choose the weather around, we can be in control of what’s inside the boat.

We can keep it clean and tidy. We can choose how we respond to the storm, adjust to the wind. We can choose the destination (or course correct, if needed) and route. 

Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n on

To me, like many my colleagues around the world, the ‘boat’ now is the home place and the remote/distant/online teaching. An asynchronous course for teachers is about to start, and I am reflecting on how I can communicate with the participants in the coming weeks, adding more compassion, empathy, and warmth into my writing. I want my boat to be a ‘Kindness Boat’, contributing to shortening the social distance through the virtual interactions and written assignments. 

Yes, some snow here!


How do you make your teaching/training/coaching/blogging kinder these days? How do you practice kindness to yourself and with those around you?

Stay healthy, and may our boats be afloat!

Update on 13 April: Seth Godin wrote a wonderful post yesterday called You’re Surrounded, and the boat metaphor was used at the end of it. Linking to remind myself later. Hope you enjoy it. 

About Zhenya

ELT: teacher educator, trainer coach, reflective practice addict
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3 Responses to In the Boat

  1. Hana Tichá says:

    Dear Zhenya,

    Thanks for writing this post.

    I’ve been in this proverbial boat for about a month now. In the beginning, it was a shaky ride. Many of my basic social needs (such as the need to see my friends, teach, go out, travel) were jeopardized. But now, it’s more like a calm boat trip. I don’t need much to keep me happy. I’m actually enjoying my solitude (which also include my family). I’ve even come back to blogging after a long break. But I obviously miss my colleagues, my students, the conferences I always go to in spring, and many more. Overall, I think I’ve become much kinder to myself over the past few weeks. Things are not so overwhelming anymore. This is because at first, this confinement looked to be infinite. We didn’t know what the immediate or distant future will hold for us. And if there is no definite point in the future for you to focus on, you start letting go. You are forced to live in the present moment. At last. And it’s quite liberating, I must say.

    Hopefully, everything will be back to normal soon.

    Take care!


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Zhenya says:

    Dear Hana

    Thank you very much for reading and leaving this warm comment. Thank you for sharing the metaphorical boat thoughts with me. Thank you for writing on your blog: the trilogy about transferring your teaching online is so thought-provoking. I am planning to come back and read with more attention!

    Yes, absolutely agree about the power of Now, and the liberating feeling this awareness brings. The Kubler-Ross Change Curve promises 4 stages before we learn to accept it. Some add stage 6, which is meaning making. I think that one is still ahead.

    One of the best pieces of advice to business leaders, freelancers, etc. (and perhaps this works for teachers and ELT in general) I heard this week was ‘Imagine that the quarantine never ends’ and see what can be done to adapt to the new reality. It is a helpful strategy to me at the moment. BUT I do believe it will end 🙂 We all need to, right?

    Meanwhile, being kinder to ourselves and those around us will be a must. For me, for sure.


  3. Pingback: Calmer seas | Sandy Millin

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