Ten tips for sustainable professional development – a balancing act

15 03 2017

If you are reading this post, you are likely to be a connected educator committed to life-long learning. As such, you are probably someone who, just like me, works many hours a day in your demanding English-teaching, coordinating, or managing job and, in your free time, engages in all or some of these activities:

  • Read professional materials, such as books, articles, and blogs.
  • Interact online with other professionals.
  • Write academic materials such as books, articles, and blog posts.
  • Serve in a professional association such as TESOL, IATEFL, and BRAZ-TESOL.
  • Participate in conferences.
  • Present in conferences.
  • Take face-to-face or online courses ranging from certificate-leading ones such as CELTA, DELTA, MA’s, and the like, to short-term courses in local institutions, online or MOOCs on Coursera, EdEX and other platforms.
  • Review materials for publishers.

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Should we vent about our students?

5 11 2016


Not long ago I read a blog post in Edutopia  by Jason Deehan about whether venting about students should be banned. What motivated the author to write the post was the fact that he had come across a comment about a school that discouraged teachers from venting about their students because they felt that it was a matter of respect, of not talking about students behind their back. At first, he was shocked about the idea, for venting is a teacher staple just like drinking too much coffee. But after giving it more thought and doing some research, he found that the downside of venting might outweigh its positive aspects. Venting gives the “venter” a false sense of achievement, and when the “venter” gets better and better at it, it may lead to more anger in similar situations in the future. Jason is not completely against venting, though. He just suggests that venting should be coupled with problem-solving strategies so that we get off the treadmill of simply complaining.

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Seven tips for a successful conference presentation

19 06 2016


As the 15th Braz-TESOL International Conference approaches, I’m sure my colleagues have begun or are about to begin working on their presentations. My goal here then is to help them out by providing some tips on how to prepare and deliver an effective talk or workshop, from the standpoint of someone with almost 30 years of experience in ELT and who has attended almost, if not more than, 100 in-house,  local, national and international conferences. I am not writing as an experienced presenter, but rather, as a participant in hundreds of talks, workshops, panels, round-tables, etc.  I know we are not short of official presentation guidelines and blog posts providing tips for presenters. However, I hope these suggestions from a knowingly picky person may add to what is already available or remind people of what they already know.

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Thirty teacher development activities you may have engaged in this year

22 12 2015

One of the many things I like about working at an educational institution, be it as a teacher or a s an administrator, is that our work has very clear and well-defined cycles. We finish a semester or year and begin a new one. I don’t think this is true for most professionals. They may finish projects or meet deadlines, but they are not bound to the “year” as we are. In the Southern hemisphere, where our school year really ends at the end of the year, I believe this is even more symbolic.

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The story behind the book

30 08 2015

TESOL book

I don’t quite remember if it was at the end of 2013 or beginning of 2014 that I saw a call for proposals for a TESOL series edited by Andy Curtis entitled ELT in Context. I found the series idea interesting and decided to send a proposal on teaching English in binational centers in Brazil.  I wasn’t sure I stood a chance, as I am not a well-known writer in ELT and I imagined that it would be a very competitive process.

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Why we do it

25 07 2015

TEFL Conference the three of us

In mid-July, Ibeu-Rio hosted the 3rd Alumni, CTJ and Ibeu TEFL Conference. It was an extraordinary event with nearly 400 participants from the three binational centers and from other language programs, representing a variety of institutions and states.

My colleague Elisa Borges, Academic Superintendent of Ibeu, put together a flawlessly organized event in which everything ran smoothly from beginning to end. We also counted on the indispensable support of our sponsors. In two and a half days, we had the chance to choose among over 60 different presentations addressing a wide variety of topics.

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Are there “weak” students?

15 03 2015

In my last post, I referred to Carol Dweck’s book Mindset – How you can Fulfill Your Potential to invite teachers to focus on a growth mindset in 2015 and stay away from ideas and practices that only help perpetuate a fixed mindset. My focus last month, thus, was on teachers themselves and how their mindset affects their professional growth. This month I’m going to focus on how students’ growth can be helped or hindered by teachers’ mindset, also drawing from ideas in Dweck’s inspiring book.

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