Tag: #staypositive

Do one thing every day that’s not work.

This is not a challenge; you don’t need to tip water over your head, take a photo of yourself with a sign, or post anything at all if you don’t want to! This is about YOU. And it’s just my suggestion of a small first step in making sure work doesn’t take over your life.

I’ve borrowed the title from adapting the lyrics of Baz Luhrmann’s “Class of 99” – where he sings/says: Do one thing every day that scares you!

This may sound dramatic but it is a serious danger in the teaching profession. More and more frequently, I read newspaper articles, blogs, etc. about the lack of work-life balance teachers are having to live with. This doesn’t seem to be limited to any one country or system; it seems to me that there’s something about the teaching profession and the kind of people who become teachers that makes burn-out an inherent risk. That probably sounds more negative than I mean it to! I just have the impression that, especially in places were teachers are poorly paid, most of the people who have (nonetheless) chosen to pursue this career do so out of a motivation to help, share, inspire, and so on. We want to do our best for our learners/students. And since a lot of our work (preparation, marking, etc.) necessarily takes place outside of the classroom, it’s all too easy for it to spill over into our homes, our evenings, our weekends, and so on. And it can start to take over, if we’re not careful. Yes, I speak from experience.
And so I try to live by the motto of “Do one thing every day that#s not work”. This may sound really easy for you. For others less so. But a lot of it is to do with noticing, re-categorising how we see things in our minds. For example: cooking dinner. Yes, you’ve got to eat, and that generally involves cooking something. But by mentally noting the time you stopped working, and enjoying focussing on the tears the chopped onions provoke, the smell of the chicken in the oven, the creamy consistency of the sauce, or whatever, and categorising ‘cooking dinner’ into something positive that you have achieved today, you’ve already changed your mindset from eating being something to squeeze in between marking essays and planning tomorrow’s lesson. Win!
Here are some other things I do which I count as my “one thing”:
– gym
– phoning a friend for a chat
– watching a film
– writing a blog post
– baking a cake (sharing with colleagues the next day can count as another “one thing”! 🙂 )
– paying bills online
– cleaning the bathroom
Some of these may sound silly and not very fun. But the aim is to make yourself consciously aware of something that you have done that was not related to work – this tiny change can make all the difference in times of stress. Of course, the bigger the “one thing”, the better you will feel, and I would suggest that if your “one thing” is paying bills five days in a row, then you maybe need to get help! But as I said, this is one small step in preventing work from taking over entirely.
I was writing this and thinking of starting the hashtag #onethingELT so that we can all share our “one things” – I can imagine that sharing makes the experience even more rewarding! Then I discovered #teacher5aday the more advanced version, let’s say, where teachers (not only ELT) are encouraged to five things per day: notice, connect, learn, exercise, volunteer. See here for more details.  You can choose which hashtag you use; I’ll see both. And I look forward to sharing and inspiring each other. Let’s beat burn-out together!
Another way to make it rewarding is to use an app like photo365 where you take a photo of your “onething” each day and make a collage to be proud of!

Baz Luhrmann also sings: “The race is long and in the end, it’s only with yourself!” So look after yourself, and you’ve already won!

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#ELT Things I like right now: July 2015

Here’s a list of things related to ELT that are making me happy right now, in no particular order. Just because.

(Well, actually because I’m drowing in end-of-term marking and need to #staypositive !)

 – Collins COBUILD Advanced Learner’s Dictionary

It’s availavle to buy here and the free online version is here. I got an inspection copy recently and am enjoying using it to plan my lessons, to check students’ use of words, and just in general looking through all the information, info-graphics, etc. it includes.  I’m not plugging it as better than any others on the market, but now I’m excited because I have a new dictionary, and I’m the kind of person who gets excited about things like having a new dictionary!

– Free online courses by Future Learn

A list of all the courses on offer can be found here.  These courses are really interesting, on a huge range of topics – so perfect for professional development when I don’t have the time (or money!) to travel to conferences or other training courses. And also because some of the topics not related to teaching English are just really interesting! I just started my first course a few weeks ago, my first ever MOOC! And so far I’m really enjoying it; especially the flexibility to fit it in around all my other commitments… and marking…!

 – The ERASMUS+ Staff Mobility Programme

I’m a big advocator of academic and professional exchange on all levels, am always encouraging more students and colleagues to take advantage of the ERASMUS+ Programme, and constantly on the look our for new exchange partners for our Dept. of English Studies (especially British unis, so if you work at one and are interested, let me know!! *shameless plug for Trier University*). This term, though, my students and I have been especially able to benefit from guest lecturers who’ve come over as part of the ERASMUS+ programme. I’m teaching a class on a topic that’s pretty new to me. I’ve been having a great time researching and learning all about it so that I can share this knowledge and understanding with my students, but just in case I’ve missed something, I’ve been able to invite three guest lecturers to run workshops for us, who are all experts in an aspect of the topic! Brilliant! Thanks ERASMUS+!

 – The Office Mix Plug-In for PPT

This free plug-in is available here. It allows you to do lots of cool things to create your own videos, for example recording an audio commentary to accompany a PPT presentation. This has been a god-send for me this term, since there are so many bank holidays in May in Germany and we lose a few lessons of various courses – this tool allowed me to send my students video versions of my PPTs so that we didn’t lose too much time. [I’m not advocating this as better than actual teaching, but it’s deinitely better than nothing! And might be particularly useful for MOOCs, blended learning, or online teaching.]

 – IATEFL Annual Conference 2016 in Birmingham

Info here. I’m working on my speaker proposal, and wondering whether I’ll be able to meet the scholarship application deadline…?! I’m already looking forward to the buzz I know I’ll get from presenting (If I’m accepted!) and from being immersed in such a productive, creative, supportive and energising atmosphere together with fellow teachers from all around the world. Will I see you there?