4 Suitcases: Reflective Activity

If you know me personally or have been following this blog, you may know that I…

  1. love traveling
  2. love Reflective Practice activities
  3. love ‘transferrable’ activities that can be used in a language lesson, in a training session, with our Reflective Practice group, etc.
  4. love metaphors
  5. love reading about and learning from non-ELT sources and authors

Now, imagine that all the points ‘clicked’ today when I came across this activity description. I was so excited that I immediately tried the idea out myself, and decided to sketch this post asking the author’s permission to translate it to English.

Note: If you speak/read Russian, here is the link to the original post by Lena Rezanova, the career strategist, on her Facebook Page. (and if you don’t speak Russian, you will enjoy the image there!) I highly recommend her book (website), especially if you have been thinking about career change or (re-)direction.

Can’t travel now, but who said I can’t take a picture of my travel bags 🙂


So… take a blank piece of paper, fold it twice to have 4 squares to look at. If you/your students can draw, you may prefer to sketch 4 actual suitcases/bags/backpacks. Now, follow the directions and list the ideas in each suitcase, one by one.

The sea is storming, and you know that all your professional ‘stuff’ is in these four Suitcases

Suitcase 1: Everything related to your current job: knowing the specifics of this position, being able to work with certain tools, being aware of the company policy (and politics), knowing the specific products and processes.

Suitcase 2: Your ‘field skills’, or your industry as a whole. For myself, I was thinking of ‘ELT’ in general. It can also be finance, IT, logistics, etc.

Suitcase 3: Your universal, or transferrable skills (aka soft skills): negotiation skills, project management, people management, writing and presenting skills, coaching, product launching, strategizing, etc. Among mine I found curriculum and course design, event co-organizing, pilot projects ‘from scratch’, and many more.

Suitcase 4: Your unique approach to problem-solving, personal communication style, your way to generate ideas and find solutions, your professional image, charisma, everything that can’t be copied or replaced. Add your contacts (social capital), networking lists, and reputation.

Photo by Emiliano Arano on Pexels.com

The good news is that you risk to lose only one suitcase in the storm we are in, and that is the first one. Only one out of the four. The other three will be with you no matter what happens. These suitcases are waterproof, fireproof, damage-proof (you name it!).

The most important note: you are not inside of any of these suitcases. You are You. When the storm calms down, you will bring your suitcases wherever you choose.

(Possible) ELT Application:

It can be used by ourselves (ELT teachers and trainers) for ourselves to review the current situation and contracts/projects in the rapidly changing reality.

It can be an activity done with language students, especially adults (e.g. as homework, or in an online setting setting a timer for the ideas in each suitcase. They can do on a piece of paper and share snapshots in the chat box, if they are not too personal. I thought about sharing mine in this post but the first suitcase contains specific details and company names, etc., so I did not. Hope you enjoyed my actual suitcases instead 🙂

You can travel with all four! At Incheon International Airport, South Korea.

It can be a Reflective Practice Group activity where post-drawing discussion may take place in pairs or small groups of teachers, and (possible) alternatives can be added, especially to suitcases 2-4, depending how well the participants know each other.

What are your thoughts and reflections about this activity? 

P.S. But where, after all, would be the poetry of the sea were there no wild waves? – Joshua Slocum

Another boat

About Zhenya

ELT: teacher educator, trainer coach, reflective practice addict https://wednesdayseminars.wordpress.com/.
This entry was posted in Reflective Practice and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to 4 Suitcases: Reflective Activity

  1. Pingback: Useful links on Mental Health in ELT | Sandy Millin

  2. Pingback: A blogpost of blogposts | Sandy Millin

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