Walking the walk!

I have always been one of those people who love trying and doing things. But like many people, I have my comfort zones too. I have places where I feel safer and most likely be…. ME! And I think it’s natural for people to feel that way. But I do try to go the distance and feel the water in different pond. Because one thing I’ve learnt is that you need to experience things to actually have something to say.

A lot of people have just been talking the talk. Because let’s face it, talking it easy! But when you’re a teacher, I do believe that we are required to put the money where our mouth is. I have never thought that being in education ‘industry’ (if you want to call it that way) would actually make me a risk taker, a dare devil!

Simple example : I hate Clowns! I am afraid of them and it is no secret to a lot of my friends. I’d rather dance with a snake then spending time dealing with Ronald Mc Donald for sure. But when a student of mine was having a birthday party in school and invited a clown, I had to put my poker face on! That wasn’t the greatest time of my life, but hey! I didn’t just talk the talk every time I taught my students to confront their fear and try something new, I actually walked the walk! When we had a field trip to an eco park last month, one of the teacher had to face her fear. She doesn’t like snake at all but since we’re visiting reptiles park, she had to stand next to the keeper, talking about snakes. She didn’t touch them at all, but at least she didn’t faint standing that close to a lot of snakes 😉


So I’m just thinking out loud here. But I think, us; Teachers, we’re the greatest adventurous of all! We are more than just people who say, we are the people who do ! We take action as much as we talk about it. That’s what we do . That’s who we are!

My class is going to graduate this June, that means I’m going to have a whole new adventure in front of me. I’ve just had a term training where I talked about my experiences in class with other teachers and shared them what could have been done in certain situation. But I didn’t just talk about it, I have no doubt  walked on it .

I’m not really in to politics, but a whole new set of curriculum is going to be applied here. And once again, while everyone in the ‘office’ has talked about how it would be a better one yet, We, the teachers are going to be the one who experience it first hand! I know they meant well by trying to applying a whole new set of education curicullum for school here. But they’re not the ones on the field .Those people can say anything, but teachers are for sure be the ones who are going to have to deal with it. Like I said, I’m not trying to be political or anything. I’m just saying that people on the battle field are going to be the one handling the fire while those who made the call……….well let’s just say would probably never have their feet on that ground. But then again, I am pretty optimistic that we could find a way to make it work 🙂

What I’m (really) trying to say with my post here is that: I think teachers rock! And we shouldn’t be afraid to get out of our comfort zone and try new things like playing with a snake or taking a picture with a clown because in reality, we have done a lot and have left our cozy corner the minute we decide that teaching is our life!

So this is my pondering tonight and let me close it down by saying two things:

“If you can’t put your feet down to walk, then put a thought before you talk”

but most of all

“When you are caught by a rain, don’t stop and wait for it to go away. Get your umbrella, put on Rihanna’s song and start dancing your way out!” 😀

aza aza pondering!

#ELTCHAT summary March 13th 2013 : How to make the most of a coursebook you don’t like (but HAVE to use)

It feels so good to not only going back on participating but also writing a summary for #ELTChat. And this week we had Marisa Constatinides (@Marisa_C) and Shaun Wilden (@Shaunwilden) as our moderator.

Course book is something that we have to deal everyday in our teaching life. Most, if not all, of those classrooms use a standard textbook series. The reasons for this are many; in Indonesia most English courses franchised based so you have to use the ones suggested by your headquarters, also the mandates of the administration, and/or the level of expertise on the part of classroom teachers. For Beginner teachers using a ready and designed course book may help but at the same time can be misleading too. Many #ELTChat participants believe that most of times, trying to use it because It takes more time to adapt it when the book is bad. More work has to be done ( @ bealer81) . And it gives you the feeling that we might as well write own book the amount of effort it takes sometimes  (@Marisa_C). Especially when the tests have to be based around the Course Book that students have paid a lot of money to buy. But then again there is no Curse Book that can fits the needs of every class. At some points, a part of some parts of it can be used in our class.

So, how do we cope with them? What to do when you don’t feel like the  Course Book that you use couldn’t help you in achieving the goals for your class?

A lot of #ELTChatters come out with great suggestion for it:

  • Teachers can use the textbook as a resource, but not the only resource. Find other books that support the material even better. More work? Yes, but it is worth it .
  • Use a textbook as a curriculum guide rather than materials source.(@teflgeek)
  • Find the focus in the Course book and cover the syllabus  our way; modify, change, eliminate, or even add or  ROSA :Reorder, Omit, Supplement, Add (@teflgeek) (@BrunoELT) (@Marisa_C)
  • Fight back! Supplement the textbook with lots of outside readings, supplementary materials, activities. Give students a chance to do more than just the activities on the Course Book make the exercise more based on their world + incorporate relevant vocab/grammar  which will be tested. (@cherrymp), (@Acquk), (@louisealix68), (@jo_cummins)
  • Teachers should be equipped with skills to make a lesson plan, don’t just come to the class relying on Course Book. (@ljp2010).
  • Get the Students to change exercises in some way – personalize them or make them completely silly, write their own questions for a text. Use technology to mash up texts for guesswork – e,g, word clouds (@Marisa_C)

Anyway, should the #ELTChatters are given chances to determine Course Book that would get their vote, most will choose those with

  • appealing content
  • clear language focus,
  • challenging activities .
  • plenty of opportunities to use the new language in relevant and relatively natural ways
  • lexis and listening should be integral

Memorable tweets:

@Acquk                                 A good course book is a springboard to learning and engagement. Therefore it must be adaptable #eltchat

@teflgeek                             It’s the one-size-fits-all dilemma again – how do you tailor the product? #eltchat

@louisealix68                       I think main problem is in the testing – if tests are built around books, then have to teach to the test  #eltchat

@cherrymp                          fight back – come up with supplementary materials, activities etc #eltchat

@teflgeek                             but can use the books as curriculum guide rather than materials source #eltchat

@LTLLblog                            I’ve found some teachers complain about the coursebook because they take a lesson by lesson approach. #eltchat

@Acquk                                 to reduce Lexis-heavy input, I have learners find a few new and important words from a text They can then build sentences etc #eltchat

@teflerinha                          #eltchat Personally, unless really dire, I’d rather have something as a basis to start from at least than have nothing.

@louisealix68                       I try to make my ex more based on their world + incorporate relevant vocab/gram which will be tested.time-consuming  #eltchat

@ManosSY                            #ELTchat ROSA is a good approach as @Marisa_C often says 🙂 ; Reorder Omit Supplement Add (Combine too is OK)

@bealer81                            My gripe with coursebooks is the way they are set out. Not user friendly or photocopy friendly. Maybe publishers should consult Teachers #eltchat

@teflgeek                             I sometimes set homework tasks from the bits of the book I don’t want to use in class. #eltchat

@Marisa_C                           Adapt or Modify activities to show paying Students/parents that you ARE using Course Book also a good idea #ELTchat

@Acquk                                 I always try to use the images in course books! They can generate so much creative output #eltchat

@jo_cummins                      You can often use the reading texts, listenings, topics, pics and create own exercises so Sts think they are using the book #eltchat

@kevchanwow                     What about having our students adapt the materials? Often do something like this with very basic texts and lower level learners. #ELTchat

@Acquk                                 My biggest problem with poor coursebooks: not enough review and reinforcement of vocab! You see a word and never meet it again. #eltchat

@AlexandraKouk                 #eltchat get students to research unit topic online and then compare notes and Course Book materials to what they’ve found.

@LTLLblog                            And of course, the winner in worst coursebooks are those that try to be ‘cool’ for the teens…cringetastic #eltchat

@Marisa_C                           My recipe for fixing poor coursebook pages – Mystery, Guesswork, Curiosity, Desire to communicate, Games playing, Imagination #eltchat

@Marisa_C                           Get your students to evaluate the Course book you are using – if they like it try harder – if they don’t, perhaps tell the school! #Eltchat

@yitzha_sarwono                Learn the content to see if you can make an easier version to use it in class; simpler extra exercise or activities #eltchat

Useful links from the chat :

It’s a great chat indeed. As always I like to end it with Quote of the Chat. This time came from Kevin Stein (@Kevchanwow)

“But what I could teach was how to study, how to learn, how to make connections. These don’t change depending on the coursebook”


See you guys in another #eltchat! Aza aza Community!

Cool things that happened to little Icha (yesterday and today)

I just happened to check my twitter when I saw Tyson Seburn (@seburnt) retweeting Mike’s blog (@michaelegriffin) post . So, I thought I took on the challenge and here goes….

  1. Just found out that during daily greetings yesterday that my class love reptiles! We had a field trip that also included a visit to a small reptiles park and we had fun playing with them. And amazingly during our talk, they admitted of no longer afraid of snake! We played with this huge albino phyton during the field trip and to see me actually having a blast with the snake has got my students to chase away their fear and in return loving the experience. Nadine’s mom has actually offered whether she would like to have a snake as her pet! 😀
  2. I went to a meeting with Adi Cerman from VIE Foundation and Ibu Sisilia from UI about iTDi’s taking part in TEFLIN next August. Oh and guess what? I actually mention Mike’s interest to submit a presentation there (Mike, you did say you love the theme and seriously thought about doing a workshop there 😉 ). It’s so cool for me to meet and talk with people who inspires you to do and be more!
  3. I managed to keep walking and not stopping at a huge sale happening in the mall where I had that meeting. Okay , that may sound lame. But to me, to actually walk off from  50% and 70% discount shoes is not an easy thing to do. So I’m proud of myself 😀
  4. I managed to read and edit all of my teachers’ comment for students report books in a public transportation. I took 3 bus to go to the meeting spot and had to stand on the last bus but was still able to finish the job. Please don’t ask about my handwriting though, that’s a different story. But at least I didn’t hear my teachers complain about it when I handed them back 😉
  5. I watched American Horror Story marathon all alone last night! I’m not a huge fan of horror film, so to see them on my own on Thursday night was kind of cool for me . I got the cardio exercise too from all of the gasping I did during the series 😛
  6. I took my students on a small field trip to a supermarket. We’re learning about Mall this week, so I thought that having my students to experience a little grocery shoppping might be a good for them. And it was a blast! They had fund right from the start! I had to give them rules on things they’re allowed to buy because otherwise they would’ve gone for candy and chips. It was so cool to see them making desicion on things to buy, walked to the cashier to pay, handed down the money and then took their plastic bag with a proud smile, knowing that they had done it all by themselves! Oh and they actually amazed a lot of people in the supermarket for their fluency in English!  But too bad all of the photos are in school camera so I couldn’t upload them now, but I’ll be sure to do that first thing on Monday.
  7. I finally leave  school on time! I usually arrive the first in school and leave the latest, unless I have a meeting where I’d have to leave school early too. But today as I promised my sister to watch a movie, I went home at 3 pm! Even my teachers were surprised to see me leaving on time! 😀
  8. I tried Durian Mochi for the first time! One of my student brought it and she said that her mom wanted me to try it. As a durian lover, I found it very interesting how the sticky rice collaborate with the significant smell and taste of durian.
  9. I have found a new set of pictures to paint on our glass door next week! I’m going to have 4 seasons painted on the door. Also a new recipe to cook in the class next tuesday, where I’ll be cooking something from Anna Olson’s show. You’re going to have to wait to see the result of these two things though

And as I listed down my cool things, I realize how great life has been treating me. So thanks for the challenge Mike! You’re another cool thing that happens to my life! Aza aza grateful!