A little something about me: tagged by Rachael Roberts, Kathy Fagan & Vicky Loras

I’m not sure who started this “11” blog challenge, but it has been a fun way to get to know a different side of my friends and colleagues. Whoever started this, thank you. And thank you to Rachael RobertsKathy Fagan and Vicky Loras for tagging me! I haven’t met any of you — yet — but I have a special place in my heart and mind for all of you. I “met” you all when I began my Twitter journey in late 2011. I’m grateful for this connection, and to learn a bit more about you. And thanks for giving me the space to talk a bit (a lot?) about myself, and to continue the connection with other bloggers.

So here is the tagging mission:

1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
4. List 11 bloggers.
5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.

11 random facts about me

(PS. I’ve been working on this post for a few days):

  1. My favorite new podcast is Welcome to Night Vale. I can’t listen to an episode without busting a gut (which will give you insight into my humor). My longstanding favorite podcast is CBC Radio’s Q with Jian Ghomeshi. The perfect blend of music, politics, culture, and thoughtful discussions about the current  media landscape.
  2. I played varsity volleyball. In high school, our team almost never lost a match. We had amazing coaches. They shared great defensive strategies. However, when I moved to university varsity, it was a different story. I can’t remember if we ever won. But we had fun. :)
  3. 11 was my jersey number. 11 is a good number. :)
  4. I have lived in four Canadian provinces: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Alberta.
  5. After graduating from university, I spent the summer planting trees.  For more details on what this might look like: Tree planting: hard way to make a fast buck. I didn’t make a fast buck. I barely broke even.
  6. I have meditated 206 days this year (not in a row and not all day of course). And yes, I have an app for that: Insight Timer.
  7. In 5th grade, I had my first run-in with linguistic rebellion. For French class we had to write a diary and hand it in to our teacher. In French, diary (journal) carries the masculine form and so you should address it, “Dear diary” with its rightful masculine greeting, “Cher journal.” This made no sense to me. There was no way I would share my deep thoughts with a male journal, and so I addressed it as, “Chère journal.” When my teacher approached me about the grammatical error, I had my theory to back it up. He didn’t buy it.
  8. I’ve worn glasses since I was seven. I started wearing contacts at 13 or 14. The deciding factor was when a volleyball hit me in the face (glasses) during our finals match.
  9. I’m worried that this all sounds like I’m showing off somehow, and find myself wanting to delete everything I just wrote. :P
  10. I’m taking Korean classes with other teacher-trainers in the area. Actually our teacher is a teacher-trainer, so after each class we help her reflect on the lesson. One of the best Korean language classes I’ve had. I had almost given up learning.
  11. I just finished watching The Borgias and enjoyed the insight into history I got.

Rachael_Roberts_headshot_square11 questions  from Rachael:

1 Why did you start blogging and how has differed from your expectations? I started blogging because I wanted a place to reflect about my teaching, and also hopefully share with others. I hoped to have a reflective community that I had at SIT. I did that for a few years, and I think the only people who read my blog were people I had physically met, or knew someone I knew. It wasn’t until I met Chuck Sandy, that I realized there was a whole world out there doing the same thing as I was doing. Back when I started in 2009, this kind of tag game would have been an incredible surprise.

2 What’s your earliest childhood memory?  Hmmm… being pulled in a sled in the snow by my pet Siberian husky. I loved that dog.

3 Tell us about someone you admire, and say why. I admire my mom. I think I was a tough teenager. She never gave up on me. The same for my dad. They supported me through some hard times in my 20s. I’m not sure I have that kind of love in me. I admire that kind of love.

4 What was the last book you read and what did you think of it? I read many books at the same time and never really finish them. The last book I read and finished was Cloud Atlas. READ IT! David Mitchell is an artistic and linguistic genius.

5 Do you prefer walking or running? Why? Walking. Something about running gets me down. I try, but always end up walking. So a while ago, I decided I would just walk, so I walk. I walk in the mountains and around the track at my university. I walk while listening to Q.

6 What was your first paid job? Part-time grocery clerk/check out person/shelf stocker when I was 16 years old. Good ol’ Comeauville IGA.

7 What five famous people would you invite to a dinner party, and why? Tough one. Dalai Lama, Eckhart Tolle, Ken Robinson, Brene Brown, and Sugata Mitra. I think if I put all these people together in a room, we could really make amazing things happen for education in this world.

8 What’s the first website you check/go on each day? Why? Facebook. Why? Perhaps a good mix of addiction and curiosity. :) I like seeing the world through the eyes of my Facebook friends and colleagues. Much more interesting than picking up a newspaper. Healthier too.

9 What can you remember about the first class you ever taught? I can’t really remember details. Maybe it was substitute teaching for 5th grade in a small school in my hometown. I just remember feeling strangely calm about teaching math (I really have bad memories of my own math classes ). I got a sweet class card from the students telling me they didm’t want me to leave. I still have it.

10 Flowers or chocolates? I really enjoy flowers. I love how the colours and fragrance just bring a magical quality to a normal room. But of course, I have to choose chocolate. I could have chocolate every day.

11 How do you feel about reality TV shows? They’re fascinating. Like Carol Goodey, I like watching how people interact and communicate. I especially enjoy reality shows that encourage people to create. I don’t watch any these days, but I used to love Project Runway…. and dare I say, America’s Next Top Model. :P

eslkathy111 Questions from Kathy

1. What is one book, blog post, article, presentation, or research paper that really changed how you think about teaching?  How? It’s really hard to choose. I think the books that had the greatest impact on my concept of education was Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life and Life-Enriching Education: Nonviolent Communication Helps Schools Improve Performance, Reduce Conflict, and Enhance Relationships. These books helped me see that we don’t have to teach using the old violent paradigms. There is another way. A compassionate way to educate.

2. Which season of the year do you like the best?  Why? I think it has to be spring. See all those colours pop after having bare winter is a wonderful treat from nature.

3. How many languages (other than English) can you use at high beginning or higher?  If any, what are they? Acadian French – fluent. Korean – beginner (Not your question, but I had to put it there. I need to motivate myself!)

4. The bartender says “What’ll it be?”  What is it? Red wine or pina colada.

5. What is the most recent musical performance you have attended? Wow, you got me digging here. Since I moved to Korea, I haven’t made an effort to watch many concerts. I guess it was the mariachi band that played on the last day of the SIT TESOL course in Costa Rica last February.

6. Which age group do you like teaching best: youngsters, teens, adults? Adults. It’s easier for me to connect.

7. Have you ever been the recipient of a surprise party or gift?  How did that go? Yes! For my first visit home to Nova Scotia after living in Korea. It was so sweet. My parents picked me up at the airport and when we got closer to our house, my dad called someone. I could hear my friend, Natalie, on the other end, but he was addressing her as his friend, Guy. I immediately knew what was up, but I didn’t say anything. When we rolled up to our house, there were cars everywhere! Friends and family were in the kitchen enjoying conversation and food. It was an amazing feeling.

8. What’s one time where you really had to think on your feet during a lesson? Hmm… I often do this because I over plan. I can’t think of a specific moment, but my over planning allows me to discard or move activities around if I notice the vibe of the class is going a certain way. Over planning is stressful though. It often means I’m trying to put too much in a lesson.

9. Tell about a pet — past, present or future. I’ll tell you about my first pet, the husky I mentioned above. Her name was Bossu. I guess my dad had her before I was born. She was precious but also wild. She always ran away, and it wasn’t uncommon for my dad to find dad cats or birds around the house. I think he had to give her away after she almost pushed me down the stairs.

10. Have you ever been on TV? Yeah, I was randomly interviewed by a provincial news reporter in Canada a few times. Does that count? ;)

11. Hot sauce: yes or no? Not really a choice in Korea, so yes. I never used to crave it, but now I need it with certain meals. Bibimbap and pizza are a must. :)

Vicky11 questions from Vicky

1. If you were not an educator, what line of work would you imagine yourself in? I’d love to work in film editing. I don’t have any experience, but I’d love to learn. It’s on my bucket list. :)

2. Which person in ELT would you like to meet in person and why? Hard to choose. There is not just one such person. I’m just going to have to  choose a community:  ELT community in Brazil and Turkey. ;)

3. What new activity / hobby would you like to start? I really want to learn how to use Photoshop and film editing software. I have visions but I can’t put them together yet. I need time.

4. Which is the best book you have recently read? Why? See my answer Rachael’s question. Cloud Atlas! :)

5. If you could change one thing in the world, what would that be? I loved Anne Hendler’s answer. I would also change the way education seems to be approached all over the world. I would add Anne’s idea of tolerance, and I would make sure that foundation of education is based on empathy and compassion. Before learning how to multiply, students would learn how to identify all the emotions they feel and relate them to something they are needing at the moment. That is the beginning. :) Thanks for asking this Vicky. :)

6. Which is the nicest destination you have visited so far and why? Tough. I’m going to have to say the jungles of La Fortuna, Costa Rica. Seeing all that nature and wildlife first hand and not in a book was an incredible gift. I feel grateful to be able to see so much of this amazing world.

7. If you decided to write a book, what would it be about? Maybe something in relation to question 5. :)

8. What is your favourite song this period? I’m really enjoying this song. It’s the last one I bought on iTunes.

9. What is your favourite and least favourite food? Favourite – Rapure; least favourite – Sea Squirt – (멍게)

10. Which is the next conference you plan to attend? Maybe the same Anne. We’ll see. :)

11. With whom from the PLN was your first meeting in person? What was it like? In Korea, I think it was Anne, or Alex Grevett. And internationally, Kevin Stein. It was amazing!Like old friends. I’m still in awe of the phenomena of being so close to people I have never met.

Here are my 11!

Like Anne — she really inspired me in this post :) — I am trying to tag people who may not have been tagged… and that I also want to know more about. :)

  1. @ChopEDU
  2. @BarryJamesonELT
  3. @bucharesttutor
  4. @wilma_luth
  5. @_divyamadhavan
  6. @GemL1
  7. @AlexSWalsh
  8. @dawn_wink
  9. @datEnglish
  10. @yitzha_sarwono
  11. @LauraSoracco

My 11 questions – if you don’t have time, don’t worry about answering. Only do this if it’s fun for you.

  1. Why did you start blogging (stealing this from Rachael)?
  2. What keeps you teaching every year?
  3. Do you have a pet peeve? If so, what is it? If not, have you ever had one, and how did you get over it? Tell me something about pet peeves. ;)
  4. Do you prefer planes, trains, or automobiles when traveling?
  5. What’s your favourite movie?
  6. Has a complete stranger ever showed you kindness? What happened?
  7. Tea or coffee?
  8. What was one of the sweetest moments that ever happened in class – between you and the students, or between the students?
  9. You have the whole day to yourself. What are you going to do?
  10. If you could spend a year focusing on research, what would you research? Why?
  11. What’s your favourite word? :)

Wordless Wednesday: What a way to start the first day of class!

Happy Birthday Josette!

Bloggers go wordless on Wednesdays. Join the fun!

The Laughing Diary Intervention

I just added two new categories to my Feelings & Needs category list (see list on the left): fun and humor. How could they have evaded me for this long?

Just a week ago my sister saw a t-shirt with the word “serious” on it and said I *should buy it. Nothing like a sister to set things straight. It seems that focused attention on all-things-TESOL was starting to take its toll: limited utterances of joy; too many conversations about what’s wrong with the Korean education system; and a vague memory of the term joke. Then the other night I caught myself Googling “Why so serious?“. It was time for an intervention.

PLN to the rescue! It started with Anne Hendler’s self-directed plea for ease and joy in her post Best Medicine, where she put forward a challenge for others to join her in keeping track of things that made them chuckle. If it wasn’t for her, I may not have finally noticed my humor drought.

The ever inspiring and “woopingly” funny Vicky Loras was the first to take up the challenge with a delightful description of family and events that make her smile. Then this afternoon saw two more of our hilarious Twitter friends/colleagues, Kevin Stein and Laura Phelps, list up some items that had me having a healing lol at my desk. Thanks to all this inspiration, laughter came back into my life.

Here are my first picks:

1. Sawyer in “Lost”

When I need a little downtime, I have a few go-to TV series I like to indulge in. I’m now re-watching Lost. Lost fan or not, I think you’ll understand why Sawyer’s one-liners get me all the time.

2. zombo.com

Just click and turn up your speakers. You won’t regret it. Big thanks to Mike Griffin for sharing this with me during one of my bouts of seriousness.

3. Lou and me speaking our household language: Acadian with specially added twists of exaggerated slang, franglais and turns of phrase.

This picture was taken during such a sisterly dialogue:

vargué tight

The words that were uttered for the picture below are what made me vargué tight (Clare Acadian for laughing wholeheartedly). Note: tight is used as an intensifier (see bigtime (adv.) or the synonyms for tight (adv.): securely; soundly.)

H’allons nous gasser tight.

So while searching for videos that could give you an example of what we sound like, I came upon this:

Seeing my family name used for the parody brought a comforting chuckle. Well played (there was a mighty long list of LeBlanc’s in our phone book when I was growing up). I had forgotten how much I loved This Hour Has 22 Minutes, so that was an added laughing bonus.

And through this searching adventure, I remembered this movie: Les gossipeuses by Phil Comeau, filmed in the 70s in my hometown with a homegrown cast.

photo from http://www.nfb.ca

Nothing like the Clare dialect delivered through the lips of a gossipeuse for a good laugh. This is the perfect example of what Lou and I sounded like at times:

  • Gossiping with the gals: from the beginning to 4:30
  • A little franglais svp: 18:50 – 19:35
  • The classic gossipeuse phone call: 40:09 – (especially 41:43) – 42:07  (the woman on the phone, and the main character, used to be my jazz and tap dance teacher back in the day.)

Miss you Lou. Check out her rockin’ blog! Le blog musical.

4. Mullets – Mullets were a big theme on Twitter this week. I had the pleasure of teaching this word to my course participants during a culture class on stereotypes. This was the featured picture:

Photo by Mike Griffin and Jostens

Enough said.


Thank You WordPress! 2011 in Review

This was a fun gift to receive in my mailbox on this first day of 2012! The kind folk at WordPress generate this report each year to help their bloggers understand how their blog fared during the year. I’m quite happy with the results, and wanted to mark this year by sharing it with you!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.