Here are some things that happened today…

I love it how/whenever AnneHendler posts “Here are some things I saw today”…that’s the inspiration for the post title above.

Also, my last post came about as a kind of “cold” reflection on a Sunday, writing about the week that was. But reading it back, it felt like such a pale account of the week that was…a week truly chock-full of things I’d rather have memorialized in writing, maybe. I’m not sure I’m all that good with the more remote past, to be honest (and yes, the past week is indeed very often a “remote” entity for me by Sunday – that’s saying something!).

In any event, on CELTA courses participants do a “hot” reflection right after a teaching practice lesson and then a “cold” reflection to hand in the next morning, with a bit of distance, and taking feedback into account. This here is more of the ‘hot’ variety. In fact, I kept this page open on my laptop all day just so I could, in stolen moments, just jot stuff down. Yeah, THAT HOT! So maybe by the end of THIS week I’ll feel better about the things that remain front and center in my mind come Sunday (that said, perhaps there’s a good reason why it’s not all “serious” pedagogically profound, or even work-related things that make the list…hmmm). ;P

Though it’s not even really “reflection” is it, because it’s simply the first bit of the cycle (in this nicely simplified version). It’s just the WHAT…before the SO WHAT and the all-important NOW WHAT. It’s just…some things that happened today! Why post them? Perhaps I’ll return in a future post and pic one or two things to throw into the cycle…and even if I don’t, maybe just maybe something rings a bell of recognition for a reader, sparks a question, or is just vaguely entertaining to hear account of. So without further ado, here we go:



One teacher trainee came in a hour+ early. This is a first. Nobody had yet come in early or stayed late. I’m not surprised that this teacher is the first one to do so. She’s actually the only non-English teacher in the group of 15; she’s looking to make a move from homeroom teaching to English subject teacher. She has a great attitude, and in our recently 1-on-1 check-in she was very receptive to and encouraged by the idea that being a bit more of a ‘blank slate’ for what will certainly be new and challenging ideas may, in fact, by an advantage for her.


I had to tell the group that “on time” actually means “early”. “If“, I said, “you want or need any time to prepare yourself for the first session of the day, which starts promptly at 9am”. We couldn’t get started until about 9:08 today. Later, my session when a couple minutes into lunch time and asked if they could take a slightly shorter lunch (it’s scheduled for a convenient and unrushed 70 minutes), to their chagrin. I justified my suggestion by mentioning the late start, and mentioned timing was “a give and take, this is your time – but that was my time this morning”, and we all need to be in this together. They got the full 70 minutes; they also got the hint.


Blind contour drawing as a quick warm-up activity to start the day: this went really well! I had this demonstration already up on the WB when we started. I used Mr. Squirrel, who was sitting around here largely unemployed, it seemed, until I gave him purpose and fame as my conversation model partner in a demo lesson last week. I drew another one of him live(quite a bit better!) to demonstrate the rules (no looking, no lifting pen).


They drew a few classmates, then an object in the room. Lots of giggles, lots of fun. Here are a couple of BCDs people drew of me:

They did great coming up with modifications and extensions (change the rules a bit, timed vs. not-timed, etc.) and possible language focus (questions ‘who’s/what’s that?’, facial features vocab, etc.)

This was the handout:


I thought this was successful, which was a relief because I wasn’t 100% confident. It’s “overlaying” Gordon’s Ladder onto the ECRIF lesson framework. The Gordon’s ladder bit went quite well, lots of happy head-nodding and good questions showing uptake. I was glad to be able to fit in how ‘native-speaker’ teachers are coming DOWN the ladder when it comes to language teaching awareness & skills while they (so-called ‘non-native teachers’ are/have been going up, the same direction as their learners. This, despite the fact that when I polled the group re: how many were working with a foreign co-teacher, far fewer turned out to be doing so. I thought most of them were; less than half are.

I’m totally being a bad person by using and not crediting the creator(s) of the “kite” image there.


Also ECRIF-related, there was this:


A few of the English words and phrases taught “in flight” over the course of the day:

contour, nostrils (during the warm-up activity mentioned above).

hot-headed = easily angered vs hot = sexy (came up, somehow, on the tail end of the whole class coming up with some CCQs for ‘warm’)

exposure (during a chat with a trainee about possible stage for the ‘Encounter’ stage in their lesson plan).

But most of the vocab this week has been acronyms and teaching talk, stuff like the jargon on this poster I made today:

BTW, dear reader, have you heard of and/or used “COMA” as shorthand for “Choose, Omit, Modify, Add”? Or a variation? Or alternative? (I hasn’t, until my colleague showed it to me).

EDIT: Neil on twitter asked about all the acronyms there, so here goes:

COMA = Choose, Omit, Modify, Add

SWBAT = Students Will Be Able To…

SMART = Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound

MPFU = Meaning – Pronunciation – Form – Use

TL = Target Language

INX = Instructions, and “golden” there refers to some ‘golden rules’ of instruction-giving I presented last week:

This isn’t an acronym, but “scaffolding” is nicely and simply defined here.

I think that’s it. I wrote a post about the ‘acronym soup’ on courses at some point. Oh, here it is.



This was my lunch. Why? There are so many great restaurants in every direction, cheap and with wonderful fresh fare. Why? Well…truth is, I’m getting close to in the neighborhood of near the borderline with bonafied broke. So 7-11 microwave lunch time it is! (Payday is just on the horizon, I’ll be OK).


It was…edible.

To my credit I also had some fruit:


This was something on my #ELTwhiteboard today:



I had a few more but it’s 6pm now and I’m a glutton for extending my workday a bit with this kind of thing but not THAT much of a glutton…it’s time for dinner. One final thing that happened today: I realized that I’d been silly and mistaken about where I was throwing bits of trash right outside our main classroom….

For some odd reason, I got to thinking “can” on the red bin meant ‘trashcan’, so I was throwing candy wrappers, etc. in it (several times a day, there are little candies around to grab). I must have identified the picture of an actual can as a little bin. Never mind that there is an actual trashcan/bin thing right next to these things – that fact was even noted by me, and put, I suppose, in the ‘whatever!’ area of my brain (that area is all over the left side and right side, and in the back and middle, maybe other places too). And today I snapped out of it.


I don’t think I could process the idea that THAT kind of can would be a frequent item here? If the little illustration were a soda can, this whole unfortunate 3 week long Alice’s Restaurant worthy debacle may have been avoided!

[Later additions]


I made a language analysis worksheet, partially filled in, and did a bunch of the rest (identifying the Meaning, Pron, Form, and Use of a handful of items) with the whole group before they did more in groups and then turned the focus on the TL (Target Language) of their upcoming lessons (they are doing micro-teaching, no real students unfortunately).

Overall this bit it went great. I’d change the 3rd column to be more specific and scaffolded. We ended up not really using it, instead I wrote an example clarification stage of a lesson plan (for be + going to + verb, the first item on the sheet) on the WB and we examined it.

Today was also an intro to CCQs and they killed it for total beginners with those.




Overall, I’d say today was a good day. Worst part about it was lunch, prolly. 😛

3 thoughts on “Here are some things that happened today…

  1. The time thing. It’s kind of crazy, and I found it happened on my DipTESOL, too. People just think, “training, it’s OK, it’s casual” or something and sod everyone else’s time. I am glad that you were as firm as you needed to be.


  2. Hi Matthew

    Thank you for the great post (to which I keep returning and referring people to 🙂

    Question re one of the posters you shared (the ECRIF one): could I possibly use it as a part of ECRIF-related materials in our blended version of the SIT TESOL Cert course that is currently being created? (And if yes, what would be a good way to refer to you? We can always switch to Twitter messaging for these details)

    My version of it included a much more modest set of verbs: meet, understand, memorize, personalize and apply. Learning continues (and your blog offers a lot of it!)



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