If you liked D of a NCT, you’ll like…

…my new blog:¬†http://muddlesintomaxims.com/!

I know it’s been a while, but I thought I’d just post this here in case anyone who hasn’t seen my new blog might like to follow me over.

Followed this? Go over and follow that! ūüôā




Posted in Diary Entries Newbieness | Leave a comment

Questions about Running Feedback Sessions

A fantastic post by Zhenya!

Wednesday Seminars


I recently worked on an intensive two-week course for teacher trainers. 33 teachers from Lebanon were learning (about) trainer skills, qualities and thinking. Each of them in turns experienced leading one group feedback session with a group of peers. After two or three lessons followed by a feedback sessions we (trainers of trainers) were facilitating reflection on a so-called ‚Äėfeedback on feedback‚Äô session where we reflected on the process, content, strengths, challenges, solutions, doubts, questions, and many more exciting things related to the art of giving and receiving feedback.

The post below is based on one of the last ‚Äėfeedback on feedback‚Äô sessions where each participant (trainer being trained) received one question card and had to ask two other peers (ideally, with different points of view) about their own answers. During the session, we never had time to discuss the results in-depth, so I hope that this post below‚Ķ

View original post 1,657 more words

Posted in Diary Entries Newbieness | 2 Comments

5 Brief ‘Bottom-Up’ ITT Notions

(ITT = initial teacher training, CP = course participant, T = trainer, S = teaching practice class student)

Below are five simple alternative imaginings, each followed by how it’s generally done on the CELTA I work on (btw, this is *not* a critique of the/our standard CELTA, just reflections…a thought experiment).

1. ‘Moving into being the teacher’:¬†

CPs meet + interact w/ Ss first–> CPs watch T’s demo¬†–> CPs peer-teach w/ T –> CPs peer-teach w/ each other –> CPs teach their TP1 (of 9).

…on CELTA: CPs watch T’s demo class¬†–> CPs meet + interact w/ Ss –> ¬†CPs teach their TP1 (of 9).

2. ‘Sources of the lessons taught for training’:¬†

CPs are given lesson source materials, have some time to process how they ‘work’ (and don’t) –> CPs construct lesson plans w/ scaffolds and guidance.

…on CELTA: CPs are given TP Points + Materials at once –> practice teaching with incrementally lessened TP point & tutor guidance, but lessons still pre-chosen (until TP 8/9).

3. ‘Who gives feedback?’:¬†

Use of a system of collecting and analyzing Ss feedback on TP classes, not just T and peer feedback.

…on CELTA: at least on the courses I’m involved with, no such system and only occasional (by me) prompts for CPs to retrieve direct FB from Ss.

4. ‘Here now, gone in 40 minutes’:¬†

Full class recordings for analysis, reflection, and feedback. On the job the opportunity to produce things like this may become rare/unsupported.

…on CELTA: at leat on the courses I’m involved with, no classroom recordings are part of the program (though I’ve encouraged interested CPs to do it).

5. ‘When it’s over, it’s over’:¬†

Follow-up webinars etc.?

…on CELTA: no private CELTA-specific follow-up webinars for graduates, but plenty of heads-up re: post-CELTA online continuing professional development especially through¬†trainers who are aware and engaged in it themselves.

What all five of the above imaginings share, I think, is a bit more of a ‘bottom-up’ sensibility than what is typical of the CELTA course¬†I currently help deliver.

Do any of these things on a TT course? What ones are meaningful to you? Have a #6 that would seem to vibrate on the same wavelength?

Posted in Diary Entries Newbieness | 1 Comment

‘3XP’ is a great idea/reminder…

Click to access guzik-3xp.pdf

That’s all for now ;P

Posted in Diary Entries Newbieness | Leave a comment

CELTA grads & Local ESOL Jobs

I post open positions in local ESOL programs¬†to the ‘Boston ESOL Job Shouts’ page of this blog semi-regularly. I announce and link to these posts on our private online network for current and former CELTA trainees hoping to spark interest and facilitate connections.

We very occasionally get trainees with experience and/or interest in teaching immigrants in ESOL programs. Most trainees, however, are only vaguely aware that such things even exist. I’m hoping to establish more of a connection between the teacher training done here and the local ESOL community. I also think that our CELTA training is quite good training for teachers in these environments.

Here’s an example of a local ESOL position of the sort that I like to share with our graduates and encourage those interested to apply for:

The Cambridge Community Learning Center is looking for part-time ESOL instructor for a high intermediate morning class on T/TH from 9-12 from October-June. The position is 10 hours per week for each 1.5 hours classroom time, 1 hour paid preparation time.


Necessary Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

  • Knowledge of methods and materials used in ESOL instruction
  • Sensitivity to the needs of the adult learner population
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills

Experience and/or Education

  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience
  • Minimum of one year of experience teaching ESOL, preferably to adults
  • Experience teaching English using computer-based programs preferred
  • BEST Plus and/or TABE CLAS-E certification highly desirable
  • Experience with the needs of adult learners in a community-based setting

RATE: $25.19 per hour

Most of these are part-time “patchwork”-type positions. That said, they can offer excellent experience-building opportunities for newer language teachers not yet ready to go abroad or workable positions for people who aren’t looking for full-time situations.

Finally, in my experience these programs often lack teaching staff with the type of training the CELTA offers. Learners in these programs are well-served by life skills-oriented syllabi though sometimes to the detriment of achievement of real, practical language learning outcomes. This is why¬†CELTA trained teachers can be great in these environments, and why I always include the types of standardized tests used in Adult Basic Education/ESOL programs in our ‘testing’ input session and highlight¬†teaching in adult literacy programs in our ‘literacy & beginners’ input session. So that they have something extra to bring to the table if and when they do apply.

OMG, ELT. It’s not all about EFL, but also ESOL. CU. BRB. ūüėČ

Posted in Diary Entries Newbieness | 1 Comment

‘Fly High Pecha Kucha’ Redux: What Makes Me Me in ELT

I threw together a recast/redux/rebirth of my online Pecha Kucha from the iTDi MOOC on WizIQ last month. It’s Pecha Kucha presentation as VoiceThread! Feel free to comment if you’re on VT. I made it as a ‘first thought, best thought’ exercise not really entirely remembering what my ‘script’ was the first time around.

Find it here: https://voicethread.com/new/share/6020685/

pecha vtI

Still working on making a MyBrainShark presentation out of my iTDi MOOC webinar…its production keeps getting buried under the weight of other things. I have did this to get myself back in touch with where my head was last month and get inspired to clear the path to getting that done!

Anyway, enjoy. And if you’ve never seen/used VoiceThread…check it out just for that. It’s fantastic.

Posted in Diary Entries Newbieness | Leave a comment

The silent class

A tale of teaching with a message about sensitivity, adaptability, and persistence.


Week after week and class after class, they sit silent.
When they are called on, they sit silent.
When they don’t understand something, they sit silent.
When they understand perfectly, they sit silent.
When they have no specific task, they sit silent.
When they want to say something to their friend, they whisper in the friend’s ear.

What on earth is going on with them? I wondered. I was tottering between frustration and anger. I asked their classmates in another class who are more talkative.

Ahh, they said. Jung-i byeong.

Jung-i byeong. It‚Äôs a thing. It‚Äôs ‚Äúsecond grade of middle school disease.‚ÄĚ Also known as puberty.

I try everything from easier tasks to pep talks. They sit silent.
They will read. They will write. They will listen. But they will not speak.

Is it the topics?

Okay guys, here’s a scrap of paper. Write down the topics you…

View original post 526 more words

Posted in Diary Entries Newbieness | Leave a comment

‘Preflective Lesson Prep’: My iTDi MOOC Presentation

Big Idea Poster

Preflective Lesson Prep: Ideas & Inspirations

This is a follow-up post to a webinar I did with iTDi during their ‘Summer School’ MOOC on WizIQ. You can see the full list of all the MOOC presenters + presentations here.

Below, I’m going to write about¬†iTDi, ¬†the recent MOOC, and WizIQ. At the end¬†I’ll post a newly recorded and updated version of my presentation.

iTDi & iTDi Courses

iTDi is The International Teacher Development Institute, found at http://iTDi.pro. Its stated mission is 

to provide quality professional development that is meaningful, accessible and affordable for all teachers. We share a vision of a vibrant global community of educators, helping one another to become better teachers.

I joined in a couple years back when I saw an online class with John F. Fanselow being offered on iTDi. I’d read his book ‘Breaking Rules’, and I jumped at the chance to learn with¬†him live and direct. This was one of my first experiences with syncronous online learning and it was a very positive experience. I was surprised to find that the webinar interface in many ways enhanced rather than the classroom/training room experience. I loved being able to ‘hear’ others thought as they occured in the chatbox. Links could be posted, even emotions shared with smileys, etc.

I even thought¬†it was great that the presenter was at home, dressed casually, sitting in front of a computer. There was something so intimate about it – the furthest thing from a ‘distance’ class! Needless to say, I’ve been hooked on online classes ever since. It didn’t hurt that John F. Fanselow is such a unique and uniquely effective communicator and mentor. What a thrill it was to have him¬†respond sensitively to my¬†in-class comments and give such quality feedback to my and others’¬†class discussion thread posts.


John’s¬†was also one of iTDi’s first ‘Advanced Teaching Skills’ courses. And they’ve only gotten better and better since.¬†

Shortly after completing the course I received an email from one of the directors of iTDi. An excerpt: 

I’m sending you this message because you were one of the teachers in our first advanced teaching skills courses, Breaking Rules Live and More Breaking Rules with John F. Fanselow.¬†

First of all, thank you for giving us a chance to be part of your professional development. Your participation in our first live online course, and your contributions to discussions about teaching, gave us a glimpse of what really good collaborative online learning could be and is a big reason we decided to expand our advanced offerings to include a full year of courses from some of the best teacher educators in ELT…

I don’t know about you, but to me this email was¬†extremely well written and warm. Yep, this small sampling’s got iTDi sauce poured all over it.¬†

I think being a member of iTDi means real connection and communication with fellow ELT professions with little to no organizational/hierarchical hoo-ha getting in the way. This means that people can really SHINE THROUGH. And I always feel like I’ll be learning from someone, anyone; TEFL bigwig or random member…sometimes it’s hard to tell! And that’s beautiful.

The above message is¬†typical of the distinctive ‘personal touch’ at iTDi. There’s a very real sense that all community members matter and that iTDi really does operate according to two principles it says define its vision:¬†

Anything I can do, we can do better.

Whatever the problem, community is the answer.

After ‘Breaking Rules Live’, I participated in a handful of one-off webinars…and then came an amazing 4-week learning experience led by Scott Thornbury & Penny Ur:

thorn ur

I wound’t be able to do justice to how good that was in my description here. Let’s just say I loved it.¬†

In addition to live classes with excellent ELT teachers, trainers, and thinkers, iTDi offers two very thorough and fantastic asyncronous online courses: English for Teachers & Teacher Development. I’m also member of cambridgeenglishteacher.org, where some really high quality courses can be found, and I think iTDi’s offerings definitely rival it.¬†

The iTDi Summer School MOOC for English Teachers

I joined WizIQ in late 2012, long before I became a CELTA trainer (despite what it says in the screenshot below). I was tapped to run a ‘Reflective Practice Journaling’ online seminar over the course of a semester for a newly hatched BA TESOL course in Thailand. I chose WizIQ to deliver monthly webinars alongside our weekly Google Hangouts and web board discussions.

Beyond the great reflective practice work itself, this¬†was an extremely fruitful project in that I was able to independently explore and experiment with some¬†online educational communication and community-building platforms. To be honest, I chose WizIQ mainly because it fit into the measly budget I was working with. Things like Adobe Connect were out of reach. But I’m glad I did chose WizIQ because it really has continued to develop and grow and these days is clearly making a big push into ELT.¬†


A screenshot of some of my ‘Reflective Practice Seminar’ BA TESOL online module materials from early 2013

So when I signed up to do one of iTDi Summer School MOOC’s webinars, I was already pretty comfortable with WizIQs¬†platform (and impressed by how far it’d come).

iTDi’s description of the MOOC: ¬†

Welcome to The iTDi Summer School MOOC For English Teachers

On behalf of all of us at the International Teacher Development Institute (iTDi) I’d like to congratulate you on enrolling in our first ever Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). We’re offering this MOOC for free to teachers around the world because:

  • We can always become better teachers. We believe that as teachers become more skilled, inspired and motivated, the overall quality of education improves as well.
  • Every teacher deserves access to Professional Development. All teachers, no matter what their background or income level, deserve equal access to professional development.
  • Education matters‚Ä® The best way to change the world for the better is to provide quality education for all learners. The best way to do this is to give all teachers the opportunity to become the best teachers they can be. If we do this, we really can change the world.

This is why we are offering you four weeks of TEFL teacher development training delivered one session at a time by the faculty, mentors, associates, and leading community members of iTDi.

In this MOOC you’ll develop your teaching skills, discover new tools and techniques, and explore ideas as you take sessions on a wide range of topics. You’ll also get inspired and motivated as you connect with & learn with the iTDi global community: teachers from over 90 countries learning to be better teachers together.

Please see the iTDi MOOC Course Schedule for a day-by-day outline of all our planned sessions and to learn more about how you can receive iTDi-certified Professional Development Credit Hours an iTDi Certificates of Participation, Accomplishment or even Accomplishment with Distinction.

If you’re new to iTDi, consider this MOOC your first step on an exciting journey. We have teachers from over 90 countries learning how to be better teachers together and we offer a variety of courses and learning opportunities for educators. To make the most of your MOOC experience with us, be sure to sign up for a free iTDi account at http://iTDi.pro . We’re looking forward to learning with you

35 session in 30 days. It was a whirlwind. And I was thrilled when Chuck Sandy suggested I take part!

So. Here’s what I put together:

Is lesson planning a chore? Perhaps a bore? The goal of this session is to reimagine lesson prep as something beyond a ‚Äėnuts and bolts‚Äô part of teaching & explore/‚Äėexplode‚Äô it as a ‚Äėpreflective‚Äô activity through which we can grow in awareness as teachers.¬†

My “Preflective Lesson Prep” presentation represents a rough first pass of an attempt to reflect on, organize, clarify, and express my thoughts on lesson planning as a process,¬†based on my personal experience and what I’ve observed and learned from others over the years. It feels like a doggedly¬†important subject – and one in which many assumptions and conventions are very often taken for granted.

There were some pre-tasks & questions involved with my webinar. Attendees working to get Professional Development Credit Hours from¬†iTDi (and I hope/assume a handful of folks who weren’t) answered¬†least three of these questions and/or tasks:

1. What does ‚Äėlesson planning‚Äô mean to you in one sentence?
2. What requirements for ‚Äúofficial documentation‚ÄĚ of lesson plans do you have in your school or teaching context?
3. What ‚Äėoff paper‚Äô lesson prep do you do for yourself? Explain.
4. What is the value of lesson planning for you?
5. What steps do you follow when planning a lesson?
6. Do you think lesson planning becomes less crucial with more experience as a teacher? Why or why not?

1. Read 2 of the posts from the iTDi Blog Lesson Planning Issue and leave a comment on the posts you read. http://itdi.pro/blog/category/topics/lesson-planning/

2. Link to one of the posts from the iTDi Blog Lesson planning issue in the discussion thread below. Then summarize the post briefly & add some reflective thoughts of your own. http://itdi.pro/blog/category/topics/lesson-planning/

I’ve been quite active in responding to & encouraging (in simple ways) the 60+ attendees who did answer the questions, and I’m quite happy with the info and experiences people have shared. Trying to comment on every participant’s post is something I was inspired to do by Scott Thornbury. During the class I mentioned above he was extremely active on the chat boards, and it made all the difference!

Ah! Well…it was just amazing to¬†have so many people engaged in my little mini-chapter¬†of a MOOC! Teachers from literally all over the world! It was…well, it was incredible to me. I probably sound like a kid in a candy shop at Disney World here, but hey. Perhaps it helps express how I feel about this stuff.

Anyway, the live session took place on July 26th. It was slated for 60 minutes. I went over time 10 minutes or so. All the recordings from the MOOC are available to everyone who is signs up on WizIQ…and there are some really great ones. They’re all around 60 minutes (I don’t think I was the only one to float over a bit). I wasn’t able to live-attend as many as I would have liked, but no matter; watching the recordings has its own advantages. Let me recommend a handful of my favorites (so far):¬†

Finally, find my¬†cleaned-up and hopefully tightened-up¬†presentation below…and please feel free to offer any and all constructive feedback in the comment section!

(vid here) [coming soon!]

Posted in Diary Entries Newbieness | 2 Comments

Connecting speech to written words

ROSE BARD - Teaching Journal

Connecting what you hear to how it is written through dictation

Instead of making students copy from the board or give the sentences already written down, how about dictating them?

dictation Photo taken from ELTpics by @CliveSir, used under a CC Attribution Non-Commercial license

Listening and transcribing was at first challenging for my beginners, especially if the sentences were higher in level. It was more challenging for beginners than for learners with more experience with the language, but all students benefited from it no matter what level they were. At first though some got resistent and saw no point, but with time they became more comfortable and it just became part of the class routine, that is, to listen and write instead of copying from the board. I don’t like having students simply copying from the board because they do nothing more than decode and encode without having to even think…

View original post 737 more words

Posted in Diary Entries Newbieness | 3 Comments


Life-ing > Blogging

I’ll be sure to rectify this next week!

A week off…and I’ll be out in the country, but with strong wifi ūüėČ

A much needed, perhaps even much deserved, break!

So, see y’all soon…lots to post, actually. Lordy, there’s been some shifts in the Newbie’s perspective and approach. And a webinar to post about, and this, and that.¬†

Say…I’ve been at this since March this year.


Being a CELTA trainer is an amazing trip to me. Feels like much longer. 

Posted in Diary Entries Newbieness | 1 Comment