Tag Archives: social media

Selling

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Image courtesy of Josch13

In the fable The Vain Jackdaw, Aesop tells the story of a jackdaw who is determined to make himself look better by attaching the feathers of other birds to his body. Initially this works as Jupiter chooses the jackdaw to be the “sovereign over the birds” due to “the beauty of his plummage”. The other birds, seeing through the jackdaw’s colourful facade, remove the false feathers, exposing him for who he truly is.

Social media is full of jackdaws, strutting around trying desperately to gain the attention of others. While this may seem a bit harsh, in reality it happens far too much for my liking. Continue reading Selling

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Fearing

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Image courtesy of Saspotato

Social media can be so cruel. Before Twitter, Facebook and the like, I was content in thinking that I knew something. I felt like I was actually pretty knowledgeable and was able to connect the dots to apply that information in a meaningful way. But then I joined Twitter and started blogging. Now, I feel that I don’t really know that much really. When I read what others write and even the short snippets provided in Tweets, I feel, well, pretty dumb actually. I don’t say this to gain pity, I am admitting it because I am starting to realize that this is somewhat of a gift. Continue reading Fearing

Growing

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Image courtesy of Nicholas A. Tonelli

One of the unique things about becoming a teenager in the Canadian province of Alberta is you can get your learner’s driving permit on your fourteenth birthday, and that is exactly what I did. Just as with most young people, the opportunity to move behind the wheel is a thrill and one that you can’t wait to do on you own. In order to obtain your learner’s permit, all you have to do is to pass the written part of the exam. I remember the first time behind the wheel. My dad took me to a remote parking lot in a empty city park and had me start and start in first gear (I learned to drive on a manual transmission car). I loved it, but I desperately wanted to get out on the road. That opportunity came weeks later and only around some residential streets. Then the big day came. My parents and I were going to be driving to another city about 3 hours away and my dad was going to let me drive the whole way. The day was overcast, but clear and the start of the journey was fairly uneventful. Slowly, my dad nodded off in the front seat while my mom clung tightly to the door handle in the back seat. Then it happened: construction. I had no idea what to do. There were people holding signs, orange cones all over the place, trucks moving in and out of traffic, and to make matters worse, gravel and rough roads. Meanwhile, my dad continued his afternoon nap. Eventually we made it through and on to our destination. Once we pulled over and stopped, I realized that my hands were cramping as I had been clinging so tightly to the steering wheel that my knuckles had turned pure white. I could hardly take my hands off of the wheel.

I learned a lot from that experience, but in hindsight, it would have been better for me to have read a bit more on the subject and possibly even practised it a bit in on a smaller scale. Also, it would have been nice to have someone with more experience guiding me along the way, pointing out potential problems along the way (sorry dad, I know you were tired and it all worked out in the end). This is what it was like for me as I was handed over my TESL certificate back in 1995. It was like someone had handed me my driver’s license without the process of a learner’s permit. Sure, I had had a practicum with an experienced trainer, but it was fairly short and couldn’t possibly have prepared me for what was to come next. Over the years, I have grown a great deal with a long way still to go. I thought I would share some of my thoughts about how I have learned to become a better teacher for my students.

So, you have your TESL certificate in hand, what’s next? To me, you are like a young tree that has been planted in the ground. Here are some things that can help you grow.

Continue reading Growing

Disagreeing

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Image courtesy of Nathan Siemers

Yep, I’m back, but with a caveat. My concern about how we treat each other as ELT professionals hasn’t changed. In fact, that is the focus of this post. While most of my posts are mostly planned out before I sit down at the computer, this is one of those that is just a general idea and I hope that by typing it out, some of my thoughts will start to sort themselves out and will become more cohesive by the end. Either that, or this post will be a disaster.

A lot has happened in the past month with the TESOL conference in Portland and IATEFL in Harrogate as well as the discussions that followed. The major discussion has been focused on the session presented by Sugata Mitra and one given by Russ Mayne. Surprisingly, those are not the issues I want to discuss here. Instead, my focus is on how we conduct ourselves with interacting with others within our field (or with people in general). I feel we have become too comfortable with the ‘snark’ remark. Biting, sarcastic responses have become so commonplace, there are those who feel it is now expected in order to make a point. Well, I for one feel we are heading down a dangerous path. Continue reading Disagreeing

Marketing

For Sale

Image courtesy of Diane Parkhouse

Let me start off this post with little caveat, I am not writing this in response to any one person or event. I am not attempting to insult or put down anyone. That is the last thing I want to happen. I apologize in advance if it comes across that way. If you feel I have crossed the line, feel free to let me know directly or through the comment section below. Thank you.

Before I became a teacher, I was involved in retail sales for a number of years. I sold many things including cameras, computers, computer classes, and so on. I will be the first to admit that I am not ‘sold’ on selling techniques. I feel they depersonalize things to the point of almost dehumanizing the purchaser. When you become focussed on the sale more than the person, you are reducing the person to their money. I believe the job of a sales person should be that of assistant. You need to assess what the person needs and then help them find what works best for THEM, not your pocketbook. You are the person who (should) know the product or service best and then connect what the person needs or wants to what matches them.

Being a teaching professional sometimes forces us to take on the role of salesperson. We need to market ourselves in order to get the position we need. Waiting around for the ‘right job’ to come along rarely works and often leads to disappointment. There is a place for ‘selling’ ourselves as professionals, but I fear that we often start to take on the characteristics of the salesperson that we hate the most. Here are some of the things to think about: Continue reading Marketing