Taking Responsibility for My Emotions

Have you ever blamed someone for making you feel the way you do? Maybe your student swore in class, so you blame her for the frustration you feel the rest of the day. Maybe your colleague vehemently disagrees with your teaching beliefs, and so you make a direct link between his response and your encroaching rage.

can you take responsibility for how you feel?

Some of you may have read the above paragraph and thought,

“Well, aren’t they responsible? If they hadn’t done that or reacted in such a manner, I never would have felt that way. “

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Hello Clarity. I’ve Met You Before.

In the past few weeks, I’ve had the delightful opportunity to explore a concept I hadn’t realized was so dear to me: clarity. Until recently I just thought I was excessively curious. When someone shares something with me, the question, “Why?” lingers on the tip of my tongue, until I have the chance to spit it out. Now I’m aware it is more than mere curiosity.

When I get a clear picture of what you are thinking or doing, I get a deeper understanding. It is in the understanding that I’m able to see you for who you are, and not for who I may judge you to be. Clarity is the pathway I use to see your humanity. Clarity helps me connect to you on a compassionate level. As an educator, I believe this is important.

All my life, I’ve been searching for pathways of clarity so that I could make myself understood, and so that I could understand others. I wanted to create meaningful connections. At first the pathways I chose weren’t life serving and didn’t meet my core values. Finally, I came upon the process of Nonviolent Communication (NVC).

Daegu NVC Restorative Circle

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How Do You Create Smoother Transitions?

Transitions can create cohesive compositions, but transitions can also create cohesive groups. If teachers provide the right context, transitions into new situations or environments can be smooth, and can even help create strong connections between new group members (classmates).

One of my goals for the first session (total of 5 weeks) of our three session program is to help participants understand the basic construction of a paragraph. One of the elements we look at is how to create cohesion. However, what the participants may not notice is that through the process of learning how to write a cohesive paragraph, they are also becoming a cohesive group of learners. Through collaboration and shared understanding, a natural camaraderie develops during that first session.

So how does such a close-knit group feel when they find out that for the second session they will need to separate into new groups? As I discovered during this first session’s closure class, the participants felt scared, worried, apprehensive, and sad. I witnessed more tears than I expected on that last day. They didn’t want to leave the comfort and familiarity.

To support a transition from tears to smiles, the context I provide includes creating metaphors and diamante poetry. In the photo gallery below, you’ll see this context in process. Just click on each picture to get a closer view.

The transition process begins with groups searching for new walking, running and jumping synonyms. Then, using these words, they write individual metaphors, and share them with their partners, explaining why they chose the words they did. It’s at this point that they begin to notice others share similar feelings about both sessions. The whole process finally ends with them writing a group diamante. By this point, they realize that they may just get along with these folks too. With all this, the transition process has taken a softer step forward.

I’d love to know what you do to help your students or course participants transition. How do you support them in their transition from not being a student to now being one? What do you do to help them transition between semesters? Do you have a special routine to help students reconnect after Christmas, Thanksgiving, or spring breaks?

Now please enjoy the gallery walk!

* Previous posts about transitioning: In the post Lesson Planning Flow – Thesaurus Poetry, I write about the language (walking, running, jumping periphery verbs) participants generate in order to create both their metaphors, and their diamantes. In A Joyful Transition, I share the positive experience that past participants felt after they collaborated in writing group diamantes.

Where Our Reflective Practice Came From: SMAT

Two weeks ago, I learned that the MA TESOL grad program I love dearly will see its last summer. In honor of this program and all its alumni, I wanted to write this post. My hope is to bring the alumni together so that we understand the program lives on in all of us. At the end of this post, I’ve posed questions and would be grateful for your comments and participation. There is also a sweet video treat waiting for you :)

Experiential Learning

We first learned about experiential learning and reflective practice during the summer of 2007. The learning continued throughout the fall and winter, and culminated during the summer of 2008. Of course, the learning continues.

We didn’t learn about the concept of experiential learning from a textbook. We experienced it. That’s what was so special about our masters in teaching program: the Summer M.A. in TESOL, Class 26 (SMAT26) at the School for International Training (SIT), a program of World Learning.

Learning through experience - fishbowl teaching of Smattie Cakes

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How Not to Initiate Feedback

The following is an example of how not to initiate feedback:

“Can I be honest with you?”


“I think you bombed your presentation. What happened?”

I can’t remember if the term bombed was actually used, but the implication was along those lines. No matter what language was used, a “you” statement definitely made an appearance in this feedback initiation.

So, after hearing this, do you think I felt willing to explore how I could have done better at my KOTESOL presentation last Saturday? Absolutely not.

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Celebrating Learning and Teaching

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started, and know the place for the first time. – T.S. Eliot

Through my reflective practice, I become an explorer of learning. By reflecting on my teaching, I discover that I have much more to learn. Teaching and learning are my ouroboros.

This blog itself is a celebration of my ouroboros, and the theme of the final celebration of this three part series. You’ve celebrated teachers and learners, and now it’s time to celebrate the experiences these two create.

For the final round of celebrating, describe what you’ve learned about teaching or learning via your blog, email (josette.leblanc@gmail.com), or Facebook, and I’ll post your stories here to this entry. (scroll down to see entries) Thank you so much to those who have participated, and to those who have expressed interest in this series. It’s been a fun process, and something I hope to try again in the future.

Once again, below you’ll find some learning moments my participants shared in their writing assignments. I feel so happy and proud that they are discovering their own ouroburos.

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Celebrating Learners – The Celebration Challenge Continues

Put on your party hats because today we’re celebrating learners!

This is the second entry of the Celebration Challenge series. In last week’s post, Celebrating Teachers, you shared stories of memorable teachers.

For this round of celebrating, describe a memorable student via your blog, email (josette.leblanc@gmail.com), or Facebook, and I’ll post your stories here! (scroll down to see entries)

Disclaimer :P I realize that “memorable” doesn’t imply “good”, but for the sake of this challenge, we’ll veer in a more positive direction. It is a celebration after all ;)

I look forward to your stories! Here are a few from the KIETT participants.

KIETT participants make the switch from teachers to learners

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