Sunday, 28 October 2012

Be all ears

Many people take refuge in headphones, but they turn big, public spaces like this, shared soundscapes, into millions of tiny, little personal sound bubbles.(Julian Treasure @TEDGlobal 2011)

“We spend roughly 60 percent of our communication time listening, but we’re not very good at it. We retain just 25 percent of what we hear.”
(Julian Treasure @TEDGlobal 2011)

I guess I could copy/paste videos and a couple of quotes to make my task easier this morning, but I need to explain the point I see in it all. I've been writing a lot about learning styles and understanding oneself so this one could understand others, but this time I'm about to be a little more specific.

Everyone reading this blog know by now that our learning styles influence the way we communicate with others, and for teachers that means that their learning styles influence their teaching styles and perception of what's happening in a classroom. "You're not listening to me!!" and any of its variants in any of the world languages is probably one of the most commonly heard utterances (not just in a classroom). But what does it really mean?

I gave a presentation recently and started it with: "Could you take a piece of paper now and make a table like the one on the screen?" and someone said "What makes you think we've got paper and pen?" A brilliant point. What does make me think people bring papers and pens to presentations?, thought the person with a special notebook just for presentations and a particular appreciation for good stationery. Starting from our own habits and values, can lead us to believe someone is not responding to us in a desired way. If someone's rhythmically tapping their pen during a lesson and looking out of a window - it says nothing on how attentive they are. I know a person who closes their eyes during meetings - to the horror of all attending, but trust me they're one of the best listeners I know. They're remembering and analyzing what's being said to amazing detail and phenomenal precision, while some people may be lead to conclude they're dozing off...

At one point Julian Treasure in his TEDtalk mentions we've been  losing our ability to listen because we've come up with ways of recording what we've heard. My first response is that I think I listen better because I'm recording what I hear, but a part of me does wonder if my use of writing has made me a lazy listener. Furthermore, listening is at the very core of empathy. If we want to help our kids empathize better, we need to help them really listen and also be good listeners, in order to give them the experience of being listened to.

There's so much noise we're living in. Everything is screaming at us in order to get our attention, no wonder the kids scream as much as they do. So take a moment to listen. The video on busting the Mehrabian myth is here to point to the relevance of words themselves in any spoken discourse. The TEDtalk video is here to remind us about the importance of listening and to help us listen better. Make the moment especially silent.

Vivaldi is here to greet the snow and give you a chance to try out what Mr Treasure speaks about - How many channels can you hear? How many filters can you use?

Listen well to what's being said, then you'll understand what's not. 
(from the cover of an old Morning Glory notebook. ;))
All my love,

Saturday, 27 October 2012

This one's not for travellers...

...or photographers, because they already know it. It's for those stuck in an apocalypse they just can't get out of.

Have a really good day!!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Perchance to dream

There is an epidemic of simplifying and making things easier for students under the excuse of tailoring courses to their needs. It was very difficult for me to accept it at first and in so many ways it still is. I'm not saying some adaptation of material shouldn't happen. I even maintain that in some cases this adaptation should be immense, because the needs of the students are such that the material needs to be immensely adapted to them. But students should not have everything laid out and made ready for learning by heart - there should be a challenge and with it a chance to grow.

And every day is going to surprise you. Learning prepares you to cope with surprises, education prepares you to cope with certainty. There is no certainty. 

Says one of the speakers in Ericssons latest video on the future of education. I've found it here, at the Huffington Post's website accompanied by an article.

I guess this world needs a reminder: There's nothing wrong with a little failure, as long as you learn from it.
Shine everyone!

Thursday, 18 October 2012


I've always loved BBC's tests - There's always something nice to learn. So click on the picture above to find out just how musical you really are. Maybe there's a hidden talent. ;) It can also be used with more advanced students - music is something everyone can relate to in some ways.

*Imagine Prince's Musicology playing for end credits.*

Over & out,

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Brawny brains

I haven't really asked myself why learn language at all for years. My Mum took me to a language school when I was 6.5 years old and told me: "You'll learn English here." I had some objections, as all only-children do when others decide what they're going to do, but then the teacher was nice and my friends were there so I stayed... for the next 13 years or so. When I started working, though, my dear teenagers asked this question frequently and left me too shocked to give a proper answer in most cases. Somehow this rang in my head:
You taught me language, and my profit on ’t
Is I know how to curse. The red plague rid you
For learning me your language!
(Tempest, 4.2, 368-370)

I got better at answering the question, but this morning a friend posted a link that will in all likelihood help me get even more savvy. Teenagers like to hear no-nonsense scientific facts - they'll listen to that, explanations -not so much. So, if you want to know about how learning a language makes your brain bigger, read Business Insider's "Learning A Language Makes The Brain Bigger". Other than brain-building, the article reports benefits of language learning include helping fend off Alzheimer, so remember:

Evidence like this is building that the brain is still plastic and capable of growing and changing long into old age, and that this plasticity is important to keeping the brain healthy. The National Institute of Health recommends staying mentally active to help stave off mental decline. Learning a new language may give the brain the exercise it needs to stay healthy.

REMEMBER! Don't be all brawn, no brain. Give your cogs, nuts and bolts a little stretch once in a while. It's never too late to learn or try new things - amateurs built the ark, professionals built the Titanic.
Hasta luego!! :)

Saturday, 13 October 2012

School as a safe base (HUPE Rijeka branch talk Prezi)

Today I gave the second of the three planned talks about what we did during the Difficult Learners course. It was a small gathering of enthusiasts of all ages and levels of experience and hopefully they enjoyed it as much as I did. Here's the Prezi I prepared - it was put together with a lot of effort and care. It also finally, covers everything about the attachment theory and its significance in the classroom environment.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Take a stand!

Teaching profession does usually attract people who have in common the will and persistence to care for others and help them grow. Also commonly in that care for others, they forget to care for themselves and get lost among the papers, books and layers of chalk. So this Teachers' Day I decided to pass on the words of UNESCO:

Taking a stand for the teaching profession means providing adequate training, ongoing professional development, and protection for teachers’ rights.
All over the world, a quality education offers hope and the promise of a better standard of living. However, there can be no quality education without competent and motivated teachers.
Teachers are among the many factors that keep children in school and influence learning. They help students think critically, process information from several sources, work cooperatively, tackle problems and make informed choices.
Why take a stand for teachers? Because the profession is losing status in many parts of the world.. World Teachers’ Day calls attention (to) the need to raise the status of the profession - not only for the benefit of teachers and students, but for society as a whole, to acknowledge the crucial role teachers play in building the future.

So in the face of everything stacked against our hopes and dreams keep leaving your mark and making a difference. But never forget to care for yourself - it's the only way you can be the best possible version of you for others. 

Have a happy one colleagues!!
All my love and respect,