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(evol)ve teaching, my new mantra

Love & evolution

Two words related to teaching throughout my career

Without one, I dread the class day ahead; I count the minutes until class ends; I like nothing I use in class. One cannot last long without the other. 

When one is missing, I choose to change: accept a new challenge, engage in new opportunities to collaborate, teach something different, and teach something differently. Lately, I have been flirting with burnout and need a break, but I also need a plan as the academic year approaches after my break, and have decided to adopt a snazzy new mantra: evolve teaching.


Accept a new challenge

You may have heard of ARC or academic reading circles–it’s been a prominent feature in my life for some time now. I love employing them with my students. I love the improved textual understanding they promote if done well. But honestly, the workshops, webinars, blog posts and video posts I’ve done over the last few years have become a wee bit repetitive. It’s a strange sort of product-promotion without an actual product. I talk about them, giving short examples, but without anything concrete to give beyond a handout and some blog posts to those to help them implement teachers in their classes. Consequently, it’s time to go full-steam ahead this fall putting together an ARC ebook, if all goes well, through the round. It’s the first time I’ve written for this platform and I look forward to the feedback I get to revise it, find a voice that works, and be able to refer those who want to try them out to something other than just a few posts.

Engage in new opportunities to collaborate

An interested colleague, perhaps even more invested in blended learning than me, proposed a collaborative research project involving the movement of ARC online–something I honestly hadn’t given much priority to before. Suddenly, new life is breathed into this project and possibilities abound. It’s the first time I’ll have participated in formal research of this kind. I smell a dissertation topic in there somewhere. Yep, the MA will finish up this year too.  Thank God.

Teach something different

It doesn’t have to be completely different, nor even for an entire term. The point is just to get out of my comfort zone i.e. rut. #30GoalsEdu

I had an idea during the summer while I was observing teachers (I manage an 8-week summer ESL program between academic years): many teachers never get the opportunity to observe each other after they complete their initial teacher training practicum. Peer observation is regularly written about, but in my teaching experience, rarely operationalised. Why is this so difficult to do? It’s not; we just get sidetracked by the day-to-day.

I paired teachers up, assigned half the class time to one to teach and half to the other, gave them a few guiding questions to consider while observing, and called it Tag-team Teaching DayIt’s startling the insight into your own teacher presence, lesson organisation & approach, and dynamic with students you can get by seeing what your colleagues do. Afterwards, we all came together as a group afterwards, giving pairs time to discuss their observations, and time as a group to collaborate on class situations they encounter. 

I’m inspired now to try this out with my own teaching colleagues, those who teach the same course as me or those who don’t–ideally both.

Teach something differently

The idea of flipping the classroom permeates blogsYoutube videos and even its own Twitter chat. The basic idea is that the teacher creates a video or podcast of the instructional-side of the class so students can watch it on their own time. Then the traditional homework is done in class. The value is in the time available to thoroughly practice the skills with the teacher present. With reading & writing, there’s always so little time to actually do deep reading or longer writing in class, so I suspect it’s a good fit. I’m going to try it. And I’m going to get my colleagues to try it. We’ll either love it or leave it. But either way, it’s a fresh way to do things for me, my colleagues and likely my students.


In the end, these new endeavours (and many others to come I’m sure) invigorate, inspire and excite me–emotions needed to feel the love again, evolve what I do again and help me grow again.

But first, it’s time for that much-needed break from all things ELT and social media, neither of which I’ve shut off completely for several years. My one-week blackout begins NOW!

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Saskia Stille

Sounds like it’s been a busy summer! Looking forward to the ebook and especially to hearing about the process of its creation…

Shelly Sanchez Terrell

Love the tag teaching PD! I think that’s a very engaging and fun way to get teachers practicing various instructional strategies. I just turned in my lab for my very 1st book on The Round and I’m super excited so it should be coming out very soon 🙂 Enjoy your vacation. Sounds well, well deserving!

Julie Moore

Good luck with the ebook – I’m sure you’ll get loads of support from the guys at the round! After you’ve enjoyed that well-earned break 🙂


A much needed break – I’m sure: to recharge and fall in love with teaching all over again!


Ditto to Saskia’s comment!

Burnout…too many of us “flirt” with it… any “making a difference” framework (like teaching, social work) you are no good to others if you are not good to yourself first….glad to hear you took a break (your commitment to TESLToronto is appreciated) and hoping that once you are back in the classroom the students energize and inspire you (as they do me just when I am about to call it a day!!!)

Iris Q. Trujillo

You love teaching, your love your classroom, you love your students (most of them), but you’re tired.

Justin Santos

Hi, Tyson! I like your mantra, love and evolve. I use a different term, I use passion. I have to admit I’m not yet confident that much about flipping the classroom. I still have to unlearn my traditional ways. That’s why I’m thankful to my PLN for exposing me to new ways of teaching.

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