Sunday, November 23, 2014

Teacher stress, well-being and stress management - Taking care of yourself

‘Our teacher is always stressed. All he does is shout, shout, shout. He needs to calm down, stop taking it out on us’
I often hear this comment from children who are having problems with school. Pupils in school are very aware of the mental and physical state of their teachers. They seem to recognise the importance of well-being and stress management in learning. Do we?
Schools and teachers are usually very good at thinking about the well-being of their pupils. We consider ourselves to have a duty of care to our pupils. We do not usually think about our own well-being – until it is too late and we are sick. People who take on caring roles are often not good at looking after themselves.
It is vital that we manage our own well-being, as we cannot manage pupils and learning if we cannot manage ourselves. Children come in every day to school and more or less do the same thing, sometimes having slightly better or worse days. What makes the difference is the reaction of the adults around them. Taking time to manage your stress is essential in order to teach effectively and to help students with their stress around learning.
Teachers’ feelings are important
Take a moment and think about all the feelings you had yesterday, from the time you got up in the morning, to the time you went to bed. What do you notice? Probably a roller-coaster of powerful, overwhelming feelings which can change dramatically in a second. You can be in the depths of despair one minute and then elated the next. Why is this? You were probably dealing with students all day who were experiencing wildly fluctuating emotions and trying to help everyone. Teaching is about managing relationships in an intense, public arena all day. Some emotions will be overwhelming and difficult to manage. They will not be helpful for teaching and learning.
What are the triggers for the unhelpful feelings?
What were the triggers for those feelings which impeded teaching and learning? Some of the common causes are :
  1. We try to be perfect. Teachers tell their students that mistakes are good, we learn from them. And yet, I meet many teachers who strive for perfection in their own work and their own life. They get frustrated when a lesson plan does not work perfectly, when pupils do not understand enough. It is good for us to have high standards, but we must remember that the pursuit of perfection is dangerous. It does not model what we know about learning, that learning takes place when we are make mistakes.
  2. We always want to try harder. Teachers are often very hard workers, always trying to do things better. If our students do not understand, we spend longer planning our lessons. If we cannot finish our to-do list, we stay up longer to get through it. Sometimes we spend a lot of time trying harder in the wrong direction. We find things which blatantly do not work, such as staying up late into the night to plan a lesson, which we are then too tired to teach properly, and then we do more of what does not work.
  3. We always want to stay strong. Teachers hate to let people down, which often means we go into work when we are sick, we don’t admit we are struggling with a class, we push our personal and family problems to the back of our mind. Again, this can be useful, we need to be reliable. However, when we insist on always being strong, we ignore our needs and the pressures build up inside us. That is why so many teachers get sick in the holidays. We need to know when to stop.
So, how about if
  • Instead of trying to be perfect, we acknowledge that mistakes can to be good.
  • Instead of trying harder, we try something different.
  • Instead of trying to be strong, we decide to be human.

Developing our strategies to manage the stress
When we are stressed and tired out, we are not thinking or teaching at our best. We need practical strategies for acknowledging and managing our own well-being.
Some practical strategies
  • Focus on what is in your control
We like to be in control of our day, we spend a lot of time planning to ensure that our classes go smoothly. However, we cannot control everything as schools are full of people and unexpected events. We often get stressed about the things which are outside our control.
Take a moment and make a list of those things which are causing your stress.
Now divide these things into two lists, things which are within your control at the moment and things which are not in your control at the moment. Decide to focus on the things which are in your control and do something about them. Put the others aside. We tend to obsess about those things which are outside our control.
  • Be your own best friend
Positive self talk is vital. What would you say to your best friend if they were having a bad day? Would you tell them they were a useless, outdated teacher who couldn’t cope? Probably not. And yet we often say these things to ourselves. Decide to talk to yourself as you would talk to your best friend.
  • Write down 6 highlights of the day
Our minds tend to dwell on the negatives of the day - the classes we had problems with, the colleagues who do not agree with us.
Decide to train yourself to see the positives. At the end of each day, write down 6 highlights of the day. A highlight can be quite a small thing. Get into the habit of noticing what is working and do more of that.
  • Off load in a safe way
Supportive friends and colleagues are very important. Sometimes we just need to talk to someone. Be careful that you choose someone who is a good listener and make it clear what you need from this person. If we just want to rant and someone tries to give advice, it can be counter-productive. We are left feeling more stressed!
  • Notice energizers and drainers
We all know people who drain our energy. We feel worse after being with them. We also know people who energise and inspire us. We have activities which energise and activities which drain us. We need to more spend time with the people and on the tasks which energise us and less time with the people and tasks which drain our energy.
  • Learn to say no
Teachers are often very bad at saying ‘no’ to jobs and tasks. It is of course very important to be co-operative and helpful, but if you are always overloaded, think about how this is contributing to your stress. If you are taking on too much, learn to say ‘no’ – politely of course!
And finally….
We all remember an inspiring, positive teacher and we all remember those teachers who were stressed and not enjoying their teaching. Keep yourself motivated if you want to keep your pupils motivated!

By Marie Delaney
Taken from:

The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation: An Easy-to-Use Guide with Clear Rules, Real-World Examples, and Reproducible Quizzes 

The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation is filled with easy-to-understand rules,real-world examples, dozens of reproducible exercises, and pre- and post-tests. This handy workbook is ideal for teachers, students in middle school through college, ESL students, homeschoolers, and professionals. Valuable for anyone who takes tests or writes reports, letters, Web pages, e-mails, or blogs, The Blue Book offers instant answers to everyday English usage questions.

Download your free copy here.

Successful Writing - Proficiency Books

Successful Writing - Proficiency
— Virginia Evans
Student's Book:
Teacher's book:

Friday, November 21, 2014

Can Continuing Professional Development change lives?

This is the third article in our series which presents extracts from the British Council publication, ‘Innovations in the continuing professional development of English language teachers’. Here the author, Ann Wiseman, revisits teachers from a CPD programme that took place 12 years before, to discover if CPD changes lives.

Extract from the editor’s overview (p14)

In Wiseman's chapter we are able to see in particular the long-term impact on the people involved. Impact came not just in the intended outcomes - improved skills as trainers, for example - but also in the unintended outcomes. These were both personal and professional. Yet again, the notion of a community of practice comes to the fore.

The participants in the original project have a lifelong bond, built on shared experiences and shared understandings of practice, as one said: 'The thing is that I say something, just two or three words, with Elena and she understands. With other people, even university people who haven't been part of this group, I have to explain myself.' Beyond the professional, the personal impact was often transformative too, creating a new sense of possibilities for project participants ('I learnt to swim at 40, I learnt to drive and now I am learning Turkish') and those around them.... Of course, change may not be without tensions, an 'inside struggle', reinforcing the lesson that one cannot underestimate the time needed for significant shifts in practice to be assimilated into an individual's professional frame of reference; and, as the narratives in this chapter show, for impact of an innovation to be felt in other parts of the education system.

Extract from Chapter 13 ‘'My life changed when I saw that notice': an analysis of the long-term impact of a continuing professional development programme in Bulgaria’

Personal development and 'life-changing' events

Part of my rationale to conduct this research was to explore what lay behind the comment which I had heard from time to time that the project had changed people's lives. Interestingly, this view was articulated unprompted in a number of interviews, for example:

I underestimated myself in many ways. I wasn't ambitious to make a career. But [through the project] I realised that relationships helped you. (Sara)

Yola talks about how, because of the project, she became inspired to learn new things, and continues to do so even now:

I learned to swim at 40, I learned to drive and now I am learning Turkish.

This inspiration to continue learning even spread to her family:

This [project] changed my life. So when my husband, for example, got involved in new things, it was thanks again to the fact that I encouraged him to do this. So at some point he combined computers with language teaching and now he has a better job than me.

Gail also feels that joining the cohort of trainers changed her life:

Actually, I think a single event which happened in the university changed my life significantly. And this event is when I saw a notice on the noticeboard saying that British Council Sofia is organising a kind of teacher-training course and anybody can apply.

Career progression and professional development

As mentioned in the preceding section, many of the participants were not aware of the exact nature of the trainer training and how it might impact on their lives and professional development. These reflective comments indicate that:

I somehow didn't foresee at that time the impact ... because I just thought I was going to some kind of seminar or something, it wasn't quite clear that it would be such a big thing that would develop. (Yola)

I had really no idea about what was going to happen, and whether I would stay there, I really did it quite accidentally. It was just somebody mentioning the project and encouraging us to try. We'll see whether there's something for us there. (Sara)

For some trainers the change to what was, to all intents and purposes, a new way of thinking and behaving, was quite shocking, although the team became very supportive towards each other.

It was Maria, if you remember her [...] while we stayed at the centre she supported and helped me. And later on I appreciated the fact that I had the courage to stay on. At some point I was on the verge of giving it up because I thought it was very difficult, I couldn't understand. (Yola)

As the training progressed it was clear that not only did we need to train more trainers in terms of the methodology of training, but time also needed to be spent on other areas of professional development such as materials design, syllabus development and issues around testing. Although not initially part of the intended outcome of the project, this broad foundation proved invaluable later on for some of the trainers who moved to different areas of training. For example, Vera found that when she moved to teaching in a medical university she was able to use her previous experience to help design a new syllabus and create materials, as she explains:

This teacher-training period helped me a lot in materials design and programme design and syllabus design. When we were about to train teachers, we had to design our own materials and somehow the fact that I always was used to sitting down in front of a white sheet of paper and writing down the plan of the seminar or the plan of the course, it helped me a lot, planning the syllabus for nurses, for midwives for pharmacy students as well.

Over a period of time the new trainers became respected and were asked more and more to deliver teacher-training programmes, as Syria said:

At some point I realised that quite a few people in quite a few places all over Bulgaria, had heard about me, I was known, I became known to many people. And I felt great about it.

Others took part in research projects, while many took up lectureship and professor posts in Bulgarian universities. In some cases the enthusiasm with which some of the trainers devoted themselves to the teacher-training programme and other associated professional development programmes meant that they neglected their own academic careers. In one or two cases some very expert trainers and methodologists did not get promotion because they had not devoted their time working towards a doctorate, which was required in the system. However, all the trainers in that position felt that instead they had developed professionally, as these comments demonstrate:

I would separate professional development and career development, because in terms of promotion, getting higher in the hierarchy, there's not much, not really, very minor; in terms of professional development and development as a person who deals with other professionals - a lot. The career development is perhaps personal. Because we had the option not to become PhDs we didn't, because it was not a university where you were required to grow in the hierarchy and have a PhD almost from the start. We were encouraged to do research work and develop like that but it was not so forceful. So we focused on teaching and good professional teaching. (Syria)

I don't think I would have gone this way without the British Council, definitely. I would probably have gone on teaching probably. Think of our colleagues who did not do any teacher training when we joined the university, some of them never did any teacher training, some of them just continued lecturing. They didn't become involved in many projects. Others wrote PhD projects. I didn't. This is a very sensitive subject ... I mean academically there is probably something more to be done. (Sveti)

The immediate result from the trainer-training programme and CPD programme, when funding was gradually withdrawn, was for the trainers to take it upon themselves to continue with their own professional development. Some did this via research, others through developing new courses at universities and colleges, others via writing, following up initial contacts and getting involved in new projects, as we see here:

And actually it was this event [undertaking the trainer training] which triggered off a chain of events. After that, the first thing I did, I established some contacts, and then I applied on an individual TEMPUS project, the same place in two year's time. Again, the University of Leeds, and again ESP area. It was a very successful one. I also established some contacts there with people at the university and I managed to publish my first article on Suggestopedia. (Gail)

Yola also commented that the project enabled her to learn a new way of doing things:

First of all I learnt things from you - how to write an article, for example. Nobody before that had ever told me how to approach a piece of writing, so these things are all things that I later on used in my job. All the seminars that we had in this project were very useful because they had practical aspects so this gave me the literacy for teaching in general.

Extract from ‘Innovations in the continuing professional development of English language teachers’ (A Wiseman, p309 - 312)

Click here to download the complete publication.

Using the Internet for Professional Development

The World is Your Staffroom: Using the Internet for Professional Development Part 1 - Seminars and Webinars

If you work at a large institution, you have access to experienced teachers, in-house workshops, seminars and (possibly) travel assistance for presenting at, or possibly, attending conferences. Additionally, your line manager has probably assigned you a mentor who can answer the day-to-day questions like "What happens if I need a new CD?" as well as fill you in on the "culture of the school" or the "unwritten rules."

Yep, if you work at a school with a growth mindset, you will always be reminded that a teacher is a learner first and foremost and, therefore, will always be challenged to improve not only their content knowledge but also their pedagogy. In this type of school, in-house professional development workshops will be mandatory and there will be competition to see who can generate the highest turn-out for workshops.

Do you do things because that is how they have always been done?
But what if you don't work in "that" school? What if you work in a school that has a fixed mindset, one that believes that if you have a BA/BS in anything and a CELTA or TESOL Cert then you know "enough?" What if you are THE English teacher at your school? Well, in that case, you can either:

choose to be the valedictorian of summer school (aka "the biggest fish in a small pond") or
embrace the web and create your own personal learning network (PLN). Since you're reading this post, you're in group 2. The problem with the web isn't the lack of information, it is actually the opposite: known as The Paradox of Choice, the number of options is so overwhelming that instead of doing something, people feel overwhelmed, don't know where to begin and ultimately do nothing. The goal of these posts is, if you're a new teacher, to point you in the direction of some resources that could REALLY help your teaching. If you're a more experienced teacher, maybe you'll come across some sites that will help you fill in some of the holes in your game or get you to rethink something you've been doing. Additionally, please feel free to post your favorite sites in the comments section below but beware, I have final say on what gets posted. Translation: if it's off topic, or off color, it gets deleted. Without further ado, lets begin.

Seminars and Webinars
So you can't make it to a conference or a teacher training seminar because it's too far away. Fair enough. Thankfully, organizers of conferences are starting to realize that the vast majority of teachers can't attend conferences for financial and family reasons (not to mention time and distance) and are starting to put their conferences on the web. Therefore, if you have a decent internet connection, then you have access to a number of world class seminars and webcasts for free.

So what distinguishes a seminar from a webinar? In a word, interaction. When you watch a seminar, you are doing just that: watching; however, if you are taking part in a webinar, you have the opportunity to ask questions, take part in polls and help shape the discussion in real time! While you will have to download some software to participate, rest assured that it is free and easy to operate but please be sure to download and install the software at least 30 minutes before the start of the webcast.

And what happens if you miss a webcast? Luckily, the hosts archive the recorded webcasts (does that make them seminars/webinars?). Best of all, they are now on demand; I can't count the number of times I've watched them during my lunch break. Where can you find them? Well here are a few of my favorites:

TeachingEnglish: British Council and BBC

Image via BC English Agenda

The professional development carried out by the BC is second to none. Luckily for those of us who don't work for them, they video tape some of their seminars and post them to the internet.

Two of my favorites seminars are:
20 Steps to Teaching Unplugged by @LukeMeddings
This seminar was my introduction to Dogme.

Teaching IELTS: Skills and Techniques to Link English Speaking and Writing by Sam McCarter
Need some ideas on how to prep your students for the IELTS exam? Check out all four of McCarter's seminars on IELTS plus his seminar onPutting EAP into Focus.

Additionally, the BC also conducts webinars. To keep up to date about upcoming webinars, be sure to follow them on Twitter @TeachingEnglish. To view past ones, click here.

Finally, here is one I wholeheartedly recommend is Learner Autonomy by @LizziePinard. Everyone likes to say "I don't teach content, I teach learning" but how do you actually teach people how to learn? This webinars tackles that question and provides some ideas on how to shift rhetoric to reality.

Image via TurnItIn

TurnItIn designs and sells plagiarism prevention/detection software. Even if you're school doesn't have a subscription, you can still take advantage of their professional development resources. All you have to do is create a free account and then start streaming their recorded webcasts and downloading their white papers.

Here are a couple to get you started:

Stopping Plagiarism at the Source: Why Assignments Matter by Barry Gilmore and Jason Chu
It may sound obvious but if you want students to write something original, give them something original to do.

The Accidental Plagiarist: The Myths, the Truths, and What it All Means for Teaching & Learning by Dr. Tricia Bertram Gallant and Jason Chu
There is a massive difference between copying a paper wholesale and forgetting to add a citation and this webcast delves into how to distinguish and respond to plagiarism.

Oxford University Press - English Language Teaching

Image via OUP ELT

OUP is one of the major publishers in the field. As such, they have webinars on every aspect of language teaching which you will have access to after you create a free account. One that I highly recommend is Oxford Big Read - An introduction to setting up a class library and using Readers by Verissimo Toste. This webinar is fantastic because it gets into the details of what you need to do to create and cultivate a classroom of readers.

Additionally, be sure to check out Patsy Lightbown's webinar on Content Based Teaching which focuses on how to strike the right balance between teaching content while still providing language instruction.

Macmillan English

Image via Macmillan English

And finally, from the people who bring you onestopenglish, there is Macmillan English. On their site you can search their archives since 2010 to uncover gems such as The Sound Foundations Phonemic Chart by Adrian Underhill.

In Conclusion, know that there are more, way more, places to look on the internet for webinars. Doing a simple Google Search for "TEFL Webinar" returns over 30,000 results. As I said at the outset, this post is by no means exhaustive; it is, however, meant to provide you with a starting point on where to look to improve your teaching. In my next post, I'll be looking at how you can use YouTube to teach yourself any number of technologies and teaching techniques. Until then, happy teaching!

by Evan Simpson
taken from:

Macmillan Education Online Conference Videos!

Recordings of all the talks from last week's Online Conference are now online! ‪#‎MEOC2014‬

Thursday, November 20, 2014

How to Teach English Tenses

Teaching tenses is one of the main tasks of any English as a foreign language teacher. Here are guides on how to teach tenses including exercise resources, lesson plans and more:

How to Teach the Present Simple
Step by step guide to teaching the present simple including lesson plan and activity suggestions. The guide also points out common difficulties students face when learning the present simple tense.

How to Teach the Past Simple to ESL Students
Use guide discusses how to teach the past simple including multiple examples, exercise and lesson suggestions as well as other related resources.

How to Teach the Present Continuous
This how to focuses on introducing the present continuous to students covering basic usage, as well as more advanced uses of this tense. Examples and suggested activities are included, as well as typical problems that come up in class.

How to Teach the Past Continuous
Guide to teaching the past continuous for English teachers who teach ESL and EFL classes including an emphasis on using the past continued for interrupted action. This guide includes appropriate lesson and activity suggestions.

How to Teach the Future
Guide to teaching future forms with will and going to for English teachers. There are many difficulties for students when choosing between will and going to, this introduction to teaching the future focuses on differences between will for speculation and going to for future plans. This guide includes appropriate lesson and activity suggestions.

How to Teach the Present Perfect
Teaching the present perfect can be quite challenging. Students need to understand the three principal uses of this form including speaking about life experience, expressing past to present and recent events that influence the present moment.

How to Teach Present Perfect Continuous
Teaching the present perfect continuous goes hand in hand with teaching the present perfect tense. This guide points out the important differences between the two tenses and provides tips on helping student understand.

How to Teach the Past Perfect
Teaching the past perfect comes later in the learning process. This guide focuses on the various uses of the past perfect including conditional forms and as a means of providing reasons for past actions.

How to Teach Conditionals
Use this guide to teaching conditionals to teach all four forms of the conditional. This guide provides notes on important differences in the forms, as well as a wealth of teaching resources that you can use in class.

How to Teach the Future Perfect Continuous
The future perfect continuous tense is one of the last tenses students should learn. This guide to teaching the future perfect tense provides tips on introducing the tense and comparing to similar tenses in the present and past.

How to Teach the Future Perfect
The future perfect tense is one of the last tenses that will be taught in class. Use this guide together with the guide to the future perfect continuous to help students understand how to express what will have been completed by a future point in time.

How to Teach the Past Perfect Continuous
The past perfect continuous should only be taught to advanced level students as it is seldom used in everyday conversations. This guide on how to teach the tense provides explanation tips as well as links to resources you can use in class to help teach the past perfect continuous.

How to Teach Future Continuous
The future continuous is used much less frequently than the present or past continuous. However, teaching the future continuous can be challenging because of shades in similar meaning between the future tenses. Use this guide on how to introduce and teach the future continuous to help clear up doubts in class.

How to Teach Reported Speech
Teaching the reported speech can be of great help to students as a means of reviewing tense usage as well as stretching their muscles in terms of conjugation. This how to approach suggests starting off easy with simple changes in tense and work towards more advanced reporting structures and verbs.

How to Teach Pronouns
This guide on how to teach pronouns suggests a manner in which the subject, object, possessive pronouns, as well as possessive adjectives can be introduced in a manner which will help students understand their usage by exploring sentence structure.

Who is responsible for continuing professional development?

This is the second in a series of articles which presents extracts from the British Council publication, ‘Innovations in the continuing professional development of English language teachers’. Here, the authors discuss who the stakeholders in continuing professional development might be and who is reponsible for CPD.

‘Continuing professional development policy 'Think Tank': an innovative experiment in India’

Learning from the Think Tank

Teachers' ongoing professional development is not a matter of concern for teachers alone. Various stakeholders - school heads, education authorities, state, society and parents - have interests in teachers' CPD for their own reasons, depending on their place in the education system. Consequently, each of these stakeholders may have differing priorities for and expectations of CPD. Teachers may have their personal developmental priorities, usually determined by their needs, interests and aspirations. Institutions may have different expectations from teachers' professional development, related to their concern with strengthening institutional performance, culture and image. Apart from these, the teaching profession also has interests in teachers' professional development, which are reflected in education policies, politics and administration. Figure 1 represents stakeholder priorities in a general way.

Figure1: Priorities in teachers' professional development

(Adapted from SACE, 2008: 5)

Though the figure shows a balance between the different priorities, in reality professional priorities (including administrative, social and political) and institutional priorities are seen to greatly outweigh teacher priorities. Such different priorities both stem from and lead to different understandings and interpretations of the very notion of CPD. This was the immediate challenge that the Think Tank faced when it commenced its work. Coming from different backgrounds, agencies and organisations, the members showed differing views of the notion of CPD. For example, the representatives of national and state teacher education bodies perceived CPD in terms of traditional INSET, particularly various kinds of training necessitated by curricular reforms, textbook changes, methodological shifts, and so on. In their view, equipping teachers to effectively implement the various programmes and policies of the state was the main objective of CPD. The practising teachers and representatives of teacher associations prioritised teachers' personal interests and professional needs such as enhancing competence in English, becoming trainers, attending conferences and publishing papers. The administrators looked at CPD in terms of enhancing teachers' teaching skills and classroom management, and ensuring the good performance of students in examinations. In the course of subsequent discussions it soon became clear that, while none of these perspectives could be downplayed as unjustified or unimportant, each represented only one aspect of CPD. The Think Tank members summed up this insight in terms of the 'elephant and blind men' metaphor, as in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Multiple views of CPD

It was therefore considered essential to arrive at a broad and inclusive understanding of the notion of CPD as an important prerequisite for the subsequent work. The unique contribution of the Think Tank was to bring all these differing, and at times conflicting, perspectives together face to face, which facilitated thrashing out of differences, identifying commonalities and arriving at a shared understanding. The outcome of this churning was the following working definition of CPD, which the Think Tank adopted as the basis for further thinking and action:

CPD is a planned, continuous and lifelong process whereby teachers try to develop their personal and professional qualities, and to improve their knowledge, skills and practice, leading to their empowerment, the improvement of their agency and the development of their organisations and their pupils. (Padwad and Dixit, 2011: 10)

The process of evolving a shared understanding of CPD also led to frequent discussions about key challenges in ensuring effective CPD. There was a general agreement that the CPD scenario in India was not a very happy one, and that there were no effective CPD mechanisms in place. Some of the reasons for this were easy to identify, such as the neglect of CPD in teacher education policies and programmes, the lack of a well-formed and comprehensive CPD policy and the lack of general awareness about CPD. But others only emerged in the course of animated discussions and debates. It was yet again the diversity of views and approaches within the group which helped in understanding the complexity of the challenges. The collective thinking within the group helped in evolving a clearer understanding of challenges, and also a more concrete and specific formulation of issues, even if it wasn't always possible to identify solutions.

An interesting and enlightening example of this process was the discussion around the question of whose responsibility teachers' CPD was. This question is not much explored in research and policy documents on CPD in India, perhaps because it is generally assumed that the education authorities (in other words, the state) are responsible for teachers' CPD. A small-scale study carried out by two Think Tank members also found such an assumption clearly prevalent among the teachers and the authorities they interviewed (Padwad and Dixit, 2012). Even within the Think Tank the initial view of many members was that CPD was obviously the state's responsibility. However, as the cycles of discussions continued and as the members started bringing in findings from their individual studies and initiatives, it became clear that the issue was much more complex. Many studies by the members reported in the Think Tank publication (Bolitho and Padwad, 2012) indicated that teachers' taking responsibility for their CPD was the key factor in the success of the CPD activities in question. For example, Maya Pandit-Narkar's study (2012) pointed out how the member teachers' initiative helped them exploit the District English Centre set up in their town under an education ministry scheme for launching CPD activities. As Rama Mathew found out in her study (2012), the success and value of her experiment in promoting CPD through reflective practice were premised on the participating teachers' voluntarism and willingness to take responsibility for their development: '[a]lthough there [was] no acknowledgement/benefit of any sort in the school for teachers to take on CPD-related work.' (Mathew, 2012: 69) The account of the 30-year-long developmental journey of a voluntary teacher development group (Shivakumar, 2012) clearly established that the member teachers taking responsibility for their own CPD was the crucial and indispensable element in launching and sustaining the group. On a more theoretical level it was remembered that 'development' was not something that could be done by others to an individual; one developed oneself. In the final analysis, none but teachers could be responsible for their own CPD. At the same time some other studies reported in Bolitho and Padwad (2012) showed that support in the form of policy provisions, resources, incentives, freedom and opportunities was crucial for CPD, and that this would basically be the state responsibility. In a study exploring various stakeholders' views about CPD (Padwad and Dixit, 2012), expectations of state support were explicitly indicated by the participants, who included not only teachers but also administrators, managements and state officials. Another study into the use of school libraries as a resource by teachers (Waris, 2012) indicated that good support of resources like libraries led to better involvement in CPD by teachers. Pandit-Narkar's (2012) study of the District English Centre at Nellore quoted above also showed that the support and opportunities brought in by a 'top-down' intervention of the federal education ministry significantly enhanced the impact and success of the teachers' CPD initiatives. These observations about the need of supportive policy provisions, resources, incentives and opportunities were further corroborated by the two 'guest' contributions from Montenegro (Popovic and Subotic, 2012) and Serbia (Glusac, 2012), countries with explicit legislation and elaborate official provision for teachers' CPD. While underlining the value and significance of policy support for CPD, these studies also highlighted how the importance of school-based CPD was recognised and prioritised at the ministry level.

Eventually the Think Tank came round to the conclusion that CPD was a joint responsibility, and would succeed only through a combination of teacher responsibility (teachers' personal initiative and voluntarism) and state responsibility (support of policies and provisions for CPD), i.e. a combination of bottom-up initiative and top-down support. In this combination, schools, administrators, management and teacher education institutions (TEIs) played an important mediator role. Figure 3 shows a visual representation of this conceptualisation.

Figure 3: A model for effective CPD

The Think Tank thus led to the raising and analysing of a critical issue in CPD for the first time in India. It also helped in further clarifying the roles and responsibilities of teachers and other stakeholders in CPD.

Extract from ‘Innovations in the continuing professional development of English language teachers’ (Chapter 11, A Padwad and K Dixit, p258 - 262).

Click here to download the complete publication.

Tomorrow in our next extract we look at the theme: 'Can continuing professional development change lives?'

Don't forget to register for next Monday's CPD webinar with Silvana Richardson on 'CPD that works'. Silvana will look critically at the INSETT model of contining professional development and discuss more relevant, useful and personalised CPD approaches that put you in the driving seat of your development as a teacher and engage you as researcher as well as practitioner. This approach can have a positive impact for the CPD of other teachers, and also for the organisation you work for.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

How teachers can become leaders

Are you a teacher leader?

I would like to be known as a person who is concerned about freedom and equality and justice and prosperity for all people.” ~ Rosa Parks

How do we need to change the culture around teachers as leaders. How are we going to do this? What are we going to do?” Thinking about great visionaries and leaders throughout time, people who started movements and influenced change, people like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. I haven’t stopped wondering about who will be our fierce leader. Who will drive the movement around teacher leadership? I’ve come to this conclusion: It needs to be all of us, because we all want freedom, justice, equality, and prosperity for students.

Here is how YOU can become a teacher leader:

Move beyond the status-quo for ourselves, our students, our profession.Seek opportunities for self-improvement. Kentucky teacher Sherri McPhersonstates it this way, “I simply see a need to improve myself and seek opportunities to fulfill that need. If it helps, then I share. If it doesn’t, I keep looking and learning. My drive for learning often fuels my leadership.”

Think big. Teacher and CTQ blogger, Lauren Hill, reminds us that, “to do right by our students and ourselves, we require a larger community — a broader view.” Thinking beyond the communities we build in our classrooms to our local, national, and even global communities, provides perspective and access to other professionals and opportunities for collaboration. A broader view opens minds to issues of freedom, justice, and equality.

Model. Danny Hollweg, a teacher in Colorado, asks how we can effectively open up our classrooms, to use them as laboratories, for others to observe and model. This is what past National Teacher of the Year Sara Brown Wessling, and all the other teachers on Teaching Channel, are doing. Not only are they willing to show us how they work, they believe that getting feedback from fellow educators is valuable and helps them become better teachers.

Make learning meaningful. Elementary teacher Brad Clark designs meaningful learning experiences for 45 students under his charge, and he extends learning into his work as a mentor as well. If he’s teaching literary analysis of a short story, he makes sure to help his fourth and fifth graders understand how those same analysis skills can be applied to the media they consume outside of class. He says, “everyday is an opportunity to refine my practice, to become more efficient and more effective.” He also makes learning more meaningful for his students by continuing to be a learner himself. For example, if he’s working on questioning skills with his students, he seeks out his own professional learning around this same topic. If he’s sitting in a required school-wide teacher PD session that is designed as one-size fits all, he determines in advance how he will drive his own learning. Specifically, he sits near colleagues who he knows will push his thinking forward.

Mobilize. Across America and in other countries as well, teachers are cooperatively running schools, speaking in front of legislators, using their voices through blogging or writing op-eds; they are creating videos and podcasts, designing award ceremonies to honor other educators, organizing conferences and edcamps, and opening community organizations. While there are numerous national and state organizations to join, you could also choose to join Twitter and use social media to mobilize. We now know that revolutions and entire movements have started via Twitter.

Teacher leaders are people who want all students to learn, and they will do whatever needs to be done to make this happen. Teacher leaders influence change beyond classrooms. Great leaders are “regular” people like you, me, and Martin Luther King, Jr. — we are people who know that our convictions will make a difference. As King once said, “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

By Renee Boss.

IELTS for Academic Purposes

Archives to improve your IELTS Score!

Have fun with vocabulary!

A lively and fun resource for teachers, this material provides a varied collection of challenging vocabulary quizzes and games. All activities are fast-paced and designed to stimulate and maintain learners' motivation. Each unit covers useful everyday topics, such as people, sports and games.
  • Covers 15 useful everyday topics such as food and drink, shopping, transport, the media, jobs, and health and fitness
  • Detailed teacher’s notes provide information on method, the level of the activity, timing and background
  • Answer key, scoreboards and suggestions for room plans
  • Suitable for Elementary to Advanced level students
  • Answer key, scoreboards and suggestions for room plans

Innovations in the Continuous Professional Development for teachers of English

This is the first in a series of articles which presents extracts from this free, downloadable British Council publication.

"Teachers across all professional life phases felt that heavy workload, a lack of time and financial constraints were important inhibitors in their pursuit of professional development".

Extract from 'Innovations in the continuing professional development of English language teachers’, David Hayes, Editor (p 5 - 6).

Click here to download the complete publication.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Inspiring English Teachers

Are inspiring teachers born or are they made?

– What makes an inspiring teacher? When you think about the inspiring teachers that you’ve known, can you spot any common features that they all share?

Inspiring English teachers: a comparative study of learner perceptions of inspirational teaching

Martin Lamb and Martin Wedell

What makes teachers motivating? This paper reviews the literature on motivational teaching and presents findings on the nature of inspiring teaching in two countries, looking at how learners perceive the qualities of teachers who inspire them.

This research project received funding from the British Council’s English Language Teaching Research Award.

This publication is free to download.

Teaching IELTS: Vocabulary for the Listening Module.

Did you know that IELTS is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year?

In this set of films Sam McCarter focuses on the Listening Module within IELTS. Sam offers a useful overview of how to approach the module and shows many techniques aimed at helping you and your classroom.

If you have students preparing to take the exam, make sure to check out our playlist on teaching IELTS with Sam McCarter:

Fifty Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners

Fifty Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners, by Adrienne Herrell and Michael Jordan, includes a rich assortment of practical strategies aligned to TESOL standards which have been field-tested in diverse classrooms. Each strategy includes a brief explanation, step-by-step instructions on how to plan and use the strategy, and two classroom scenarios demonstrating how the strategy can be adapted for different grade levels and content areas. Herrell and Jordan have included additional language and literacy development strategies, technology strategies, and assessment strategies to support both pre-service and inservice teachers.

Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics

This best-selling dictionary is now in its 4th edition. Specifically written for students of language teaching and applied linguistics, it has become an indispensible resource for those engaged in courses in TEFL, TESOL, applied linguistics and introductory courses in general linguistics. 

Fully revised, this new edition includes over 350 new entries. Previous definitions have been revised or replaced in order to make this the most up-to-date and comprehensive dictionary available. 

Providing straightforward and accessible explanations of difficult terms and ideas in applied linguistics, this dictionary offers:
  • Nearly 3000 detailed entries, from subject areas such as teaching methodology, curriculum development, sociolinguistics, syntax and phonetics. 
  • Clear and accurate definitions which assume no prior knowledge of the subject matter
  • helpful diagrams and tables
  • cross references throughout, linking related subject areas for ease of reference, and helping to broaden students' knowledge
The Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics is the definitive resource for students.

Get your copy, here:

Monday, November 17, 2014

IELTS Resource Pack

IELTS Resource Pack

Photocopiable resource book for all teachers of IELTS preparation classes

Key features

IELTS Resource Pack provides teachers with valuable resource material to liven up their IELTS preparation classes and help ensure success for their students.
Preparing classes for the IELTS exam can become a gruelling cycle of exam practice and intensive language analysis. Communication games and activities may be available, but with the exam approaching, it can seem inappropriate to spend time on anything not directly relevant to the exam.
The games and activites in this book aim to help with this dilemma. They are fun, motivating, and in many cases kinaesthetic (i.e. students use their bodies as well as their minds), yet they all relate directly to the exam.
IELTS Resource Pack features:
  • A bank of photocopiable exam practice material
  • 25 lively communicative activities specifically designed for students preparing for the IELTS exam
  • Highly motivating pair-work, small-group and whole-class activities
  • Language and skills students need for success in the Academic Writing, Academic Reading, Speaking and Listening modules of the exam
  • Free Audio CD with listening material for the exam

The "How to teach" Series from Jeremy Harmer.

The How to series is written by teachers and teacher trainers, people who know the reality of the classroom and the support teachers need to get the most out of their students. The aim is to build teachers confidence, knowledge, and classroom abilities and inspire them to try out new ideas.

This collection of user-friendly development books will assist a broad range of teachers and trainers in expanding their classroom capabilities. Each text offers practical information within a clear theoretical framework. The series builds teachers' confidence, knowledge and classroom abilities -- and inspires them to try out new ideas.

The series includes:
How to Teach Writing by Jeremy Harmer
This book delivers an uncomplicated analysis of the nature of writing, particularly in terms of process, product, and genre. Descriptions of a broad range of writing tasks enable teachers to select those that will be most effective in developing students’ writing skills.
How to Teach Writing - 69 M
How to Teach Grammar by Scott Thornbury
Here you’ll find a host of ways to develop or enhance your grammar teaching skills. How to Teach Grammar demonstrates methods for practicing a variety of grammar topics, dealing with errors, and integrating grammar instruction into general methodologies such as task-based learning.
How to Teach Grammar - 7 M
How to Teach Vocabulary by Scott Thornbury introduction to teaching vocabulary that’s both accessible and content-rich. You’ll find details on the characteristics of words, how they are learned and memorized, and the best ways to teach them. Complex issues are presented in the context of the real-life challenges of today’s classrooms.
How to Teach Vocabulary - 9 M
How to Teach Speaking by Scott Thornbury
This book examines the different approaches and activities that can be used for teaching and testing speaking. It covers areas of speech such as articulation, fluency and register, and looks at classroom approaches including discussions, drama, and drills. A task file and reading list is included.
How to Teach Speaking - 71 M
How to Teach Pronunciation by Gerald Kelly
A straightforward primer on the theory and teaching of pronunciation, this text offers detailed analysis and teaching techniques for vowels, consonants, stress and intonation, and the features of fluent speech. An enclosed Audio CD provides spoken examples of the material in the text.
How to Teach Pronunciation 13 + 22 M
Audio CD
How to Teach for Exams by Sally Burgess and Katie Head
This text offers a thorough analysis of how listening, speaking, reading and writing, as well as grammar and vocabulary, are tested in a range of exams, along with appropriate teaching strategies for each. Also includes a guide to all major international English language exams.
How to Teach for Exams - 24 M
How to Teach English, New Edition by Jeremy Harmer
This essential introduction to the theory and practice of teaching English illustrates a variety of methods, based on the author’s extensive teaching and training experience. Ideas on lesson planning and textbook use can be put into practice immediately.

How to Teach English - 21 M

How to Teach English - Second Edition - 8 M