December Notes

Attitude to [peer] observation? I like the ‘Blind Men and an Elephant‘ story/metaphor: the 3-6 men touch a part of the elephant, and to each it seems to be a different animal. To have a complete picture, they need each other’s input. Just like teachers need each other in class.


(Cheating with a quote today) ‘Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time’. – Betty Smith. Very true for a training course and observing new teachers: need to appreciate their ideas and style, their first steps and discoveries. Pass this to them!


Belief: A good teacher- and trainer-trainer needs to be caring and sensitive on a personal level, but demanding professionally. This preserves rapport and trust, encourages mutual feedback, supports growth. The hardest part is balance: how do you know that neither side is ‘overweighing’? By applying the same principle to yourself!


Advice to teachers? Pause to look back at the lesson you have just taught, or are teaching right now: ‘Did your students learn anything? Have they been engaged? Motivated? How do you know? How can you help them more?’ Write down the answers. Repeat daily. Magic is on the way!


Understand a participant, or student, on a personal level – and then responding to their professional or learning needs will be easier. To understand, listen. To listen, stop talking or planning. Wear ‘Positive Regard’ hat and open your heart to this person. Obvious, but is not (always) easy to do.


Taken by Anya, my sister, in 2011.

Taken by Anya, my sister, in December 2011.

KASA: Knowledge, Awareness, Skill and Attitude. Only Awareness is educable part, whereas knowledge and skills can be ‘taught’, if awareness is there. Attitude? Can we teach it? Can we only self-learn it? Gain it? Discover? Can Attitude ‘spoil’ our KAS? Or influence it, turn the learning process into enjoyable journey?


Silence in class: good, bad, desired, avoided? As a trainer, how much time do I give to the participants to think and listen (to themselves, each other, me?) How do I feel when they are quiet? How do they feel when there is a pause? Some answers are coming soon-ish…


Activity on silence: for five minutes, stop talking to think about something that has been in the center of your attention. No talking, or writing, just thinking about these questions: What do you think about this topic? What can you do about it? (Can also be a language learning activity!)

8 Responses to December Notes

  1. Pingback: TT in 50 words? | Wednesday Seminars

  2. Matthew says:

    Here are my 50 words for TT:

    Dig into the planning process: don’t just “plan” your lessons – organize, arrange, work out, design, outline, map out, prepare, schedule, formulate, frame, develop, devise, concoct; plot, scheme, hatch, brew, slate, intend, aim, propose, mean, hope, want, wish, desire, envisage; formal purpose, design, draw up, sketch out, or map out your lessons!


  3. Matthew says:

    Excuse the occasional non-sensical bit there…:P I copied and pasted synonyms for “plan” from the thesaurus on my computer. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zhenya says:

      Wow – thank you for the comment Matthew (and for making it 50 words!) I like the idea of re-defining the ‘planning’ part and adding a new perspective to the process. Thank you for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. TheSecretDoS says:

    No one really knows how to teach a language or how languages are learnt. Abandon all theories about language learning and treat their proponents with suspicion. Instead, ask two simple questions: 1. Is this helping? 2. How do I know? If the learners say “yes”, ask “How do they know?”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Zhenya says:

      Thank you for adding yours! I must say both are my favorite questions, too: in fact, this whole idea of ‘evidence’ and observing learning (in students, in teachers) is perhaps ‘the’ idea of TT?… Can there be ‘the’ ideas, really? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. careymicaela says:

    I really enjoyed reading your 50 word notes. Each one struck a chord in a different way. Thanks for making me think! I especially enjoyed the metaphor about the blind men touching the elephant- new to me and so intriguing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zhenya says:

      Hi Micaela, thank you for reading and commenting! I keep adding notes here – in the hope that some of them might grow into a post, or simply to find like-minded souls (like you!). Have a good end of the year! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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