Month: February 2013

My 30 day teaching challenge

A year or so back I watched a hugely inspiring TED video by Matt Cutts.  He invited us to try something new for just 30 days, in doing so to shake up how we think, how we live and how we perceive things – a personal and highly motivating challenge.  He cycled to work for 30 days, wrote a novel in 30 days, gave up sugar for 30 days and took a photo a day for 30 days.   For any of you who haven’t seen it, the video is a great watch, and leads to all kinds of discussion on motivation, behavior, needs and challenges.

It’s so easy to fall into a routine, and become lethargic, complacent and unfocussed.   As teachers we’re expected to be the entertainers, the performers and the motivators who keep the learners coming and keep them learning.  I don’t know about you, but at this time of year when I look out of my window and see nothing but sleet and drizzle, I start to feel, well, let’s say not exactly my normal, inspired self.  My lesson ideas seem fewer and further between and the atmosphere in class seels a bit dull too.


So, this morning I thought – why not give Matt’s suggestion a go?  Perhaps I should give myself a 30 day teaching challenge?  It’s risky – I’ll have to be consistent.  I’ll have to try things out which might not go down well.  If that happens, will I be able to turn things around?  Will my learners be shocked or confused by what I’m doing and how will I deal with their reactions?  Well, I’ll never know if I don’t give it a try…

So my first 30 day challenge is this: can I teach each class for the next 30 day by using only pictures?  For the next 30 days  I’m not going to give out any worksheets to any of my classes.  No photocopies, no articles, no transcripts nothing.  No videos, no listening, no iphones.  That goes for the ESPers and the beginners too.  Will I manage it??

For next week I’ve prepared this lesson based on the business news this week.  I’ve got a framework of how to teach a class using only pictures – the type of activities I’m planning on carrying out and how I’ll set the class up.  In fact, I could possibly vary this tasks and use this as a framework for the whole 30 days… If you’d like to join me and give yourself the challenge to teach using only pictures, then feel free to download the complete lesson.  But remember – it’s for your eyes only – the learners just get the pictures!

As always, I’d love to hear your experiences – how do you challenge yourself?  Could you manage to rely on one single medium for 30 days?  Do you have any challenges for me to try out in my business English classes for 30 days?  I can’t promise I’ll take you up on it, but I’ll certainly ponder it for a while.  Have fun!