Precarious Employment - The "new normal" for ESL Teachers

Each week for the last 18 months, I have written a blog post on a teaching and learning issue.  In last week's post, I talked about writing monthly blog posts instead of weekly because I was going to teach an EAP course starting this week. Unfortunately, the course was cancelled due to low enrollment. My workload as a part-time instructor included just this one course for 8 hours a week. 

Precarious employment in Canada is real and is now referred to as "the new normal".  It is unlikely that this will change anytime soon and even our government officials tell people to get used to “job churn” – jumping from “job to job to job.”  

Many teachers I know work at more than one college/school in order to make ends meet. Take a look at the most recent stats for faculty at colleges in Ontario, Canada  - 70% part-time and 30% full-time!  I was one of the 70% and look what happened to my workload!



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7 Habits for New Teachers

This week`s blog post looks at forming good "teacher habits" as I prepare to teach two online courses in a TESL Training program.

Did you know that on average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behaviour becomes automatic? This is why it is so difficult to form new habits.

There are many habits that contribute to good teaching but at the risk of overwhelming new teachers, I have prepared a short list below:

Habit 1: Preview the lesson
Tell students what they are going to learn in the lesson. I do this by writing a brief agenda on the board. I developed this habit more than 20 years ago and still do this before every single class. Research shows that the best place to write the agenda is at the top left-hand side of the board. Go through the agenda at the beginning of class and then as you reach each item, check it off.  Students like to know what they will be doing in the class and it also helps me to stay on track.

Habit 2 - Recap at the end

Let's jump to the end...

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Tips for Drawing-Challenged Teachers

drawing esl teaching Mar 03, 2017

Do you feel drawing-challenged?

As teachers, we often use the board to "draw" a word or concept. I have always felt "drawing-challenged" and dreaded those moments when I realized that drawing on the board would be helpful for my students. My most recent "drawing disaster" was an attempt to draw an airplane which ended up looking like a sickly bird!

Have you also had drawing disasters?

Well, hopefully our drawing skills are about to improve! I was away last weekend and decided to make it a computer-free weekend. This meant spending several hours reading. While reading Creative Confidence by Tom and David Kelley (another great book), I learned about author Dan Roam and his wonderful books that help people become better visual communicators.

Dan has several books but the one that I think relates most to what we do as teachers is called Blah Blah Blah - What to do when Words don't Work We know as ESL/EFL teachers, sometimes our words "just...

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Coming Clean: Mental Health Issues in ELT

Update on last week's blog post - Why Students' Cell Phones belong in a Shoe Bag!

There were a few responses on twitter.  It appears that teachers have very strong views about the use of phones in the classroom.

Banning cellphones in an adult classroom - unnecessarily authoritarian

Wondering how #ELTs of adults would feel if asked to voluntarily surrender cell phones at conferences

No cph use inclass (including breaks-commoncourtesy) S/T pushback!

Good topic. My adult students are literally driving me insane with the use of cellphones.  It’s not just texting, making and taking calls but some of them actually record the lessons being taught.  This is very distracting.

The point I was trying to make was not a complete ban, but I would like to have at least the first 5 minutes of class so I can say hello to students, and introduce the lesson!

Coming Clean: Mental Health Issues...

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Are your students fluent in Two Truths and a Lie?

When I saw this question on Walton Burns' website, it made me pause and reflect on what it must be like to be an ESL student, and how as teachers, we may contribute to our students' boredom. I had the pleasure of interviewing Walton who is an experienced teacher, materials writer and the Chair of the Materials Writer Interest Section of TESOL. Find out what happened when a brave student piped up about Two Truths and a Lie.

Here is my interview:

Thank you for doing this interview Walton. Can you start off by telling us where you teach?

At the moment, I do some freelance tutoring mainly for international students or adults living in the area New Haven area of Connecticut, USA but I’m currently doing more materials writing as it allows me to spend time with my son.

How long have you been teaching?

I began teaching in 2001 when I traveled to Vanuatu in the Peace Corps and I started writing materials professionally in 2007.

Can you describe a typical working day?

After breakfast, I...

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