Do you remember this cool book called ‘Teach like a pirate’? Well, Dave Burgess, the author, is not alone: there’s a group of innovative educators who write books, speak and generally inspire teachers and learners. These two books in particular seem exciting: The Path to Serendipity and The Princes of Serendip by Allyson Apsey. The former is about life, the universe and everything – how you can find joy in lucky and beautiful moments (that’s what I got from the blurbs, but the book is now on my Kindle). If the first book is for adults trying to make sense of their life, the other one is its companion for children, instilling the same values through a story with pictures. And now I really want them both 🙂
Why I’m telling you all this? Just to ask if you have any thoughts about serendipity and if it has any place in your classroom or workplace. Are you one of those princes on the journey to Serendip? Do you want your learners to be?
Don’t you just love ‘quick fixes’? Take that cool teaching idea into the classroom as soon as you hear it – or read about it on the OUP blog. Here’s a great collection of techniques for random grouping, which is your favourite? I really like ‘what’s your favourite food’ because it feels so cosy, and ‘words from the unit’ for maximised usefulness – and you?
I once wrote about ‘black swans’ and tried to imagine what they would be in English language teaching; here is another article about them, this time in education. If these sudden unpredictable changes can make a project fail, why not attempt to predict them. Looks like a contradiction in terms: how can you predict the unpredictable? And yet the author’s idea is sound enough: if you do the ‘premortem’ discussion and imagine what could have gone wrong, you can still prevent some of the risks and prep your mind for early detection of others.
I wonder if Delta lesson write-ups aren’t like little premortems. I anticipate problems with this, this and that….
To support a recent post about reflection followed by action, which was teacher-oriented, here is an interesting take on the same topic, but in a business environment. It’s by my favourite Dan Rockwell aka Leadershipfreak: a self-reflection ‘sandwich’ where reflection is just a thin layer of peanut butter between two hefty slices of action. He ends the post with a list of useful journal questions to reflect on the actions of the day, such as ‘What did I plan to do?’, ‘What actually happened?’, and ‘What do I really want?’. I’m almost tempted to cook a series of my own action-reflection-action sandwiches on this blog!
Warning: this is a rather touchy-feely post, and it’s not really about grammar rules! Nevertheless, I think it builds quite nicely on the idea of Do-Nothing Teaching, and the questions the writer asks are very close to my heart. It’s actually a book summary, and it seems that the whole book is a worthwhile read. Call me an idealist, but isn’t this a great quote?
“When you follow Must every day, you impact not only what you create for your work, but also who you become in your life. This is how your work and your life become one and the same.”
That said, you can also use the article for extra noticing practice with higher-level students 🙂
P.S. My ‘Listening to now’ widget has stopped working, so here is a nice song I got stuck on as an illustration:
This concept has resurfaced in my little Internet neck-of-the woods recently, and it makes me wonder: how often do we do too much in the classroom just because we can, or because we think we should? Wouldn’t it be better sometimes to stop and wait to see what really needs to be done? I found this series of posts on an extinct blog and was really inspired by how the writer applies this idea to everything from his own teaching to teacher training and mentoring. Once, when he was giving a talk at a conference, he asked the audience to do absolutely nothing for 2 minutes! Do read on for stories like that one, and for very interesting reflections.
For my own part, I’m planning to sit down and do absolutely nothing for as long as 5 minutes when I come home tonight – and you?
If you ever feel like you don’t want to spend another minute in front of the classroom at the whiteboard, this post from Daniel Martin might be of help. It’s also good for developing speaking, writing (and spelling!) skills and learner autonomy, assists vocabulary revision and retention, creates an enjoyable challenge and brings variety. In fact, if you don’t have mini whiteboards, something could be fashioned out of paper, though the activity does involve wiping. Perhaps tablets? Anyway, the activity is interesting, and there are a few links to other whiteboard ideas at the end of the post – a nice candidate for morning bookmarking!