December reflection challenge

A reflection from 2018 😉 (A garden in Granada, Spain).

When I saw this reflection challenge on the That is Evil blog (great name!), I couldn’t resist taking part.

Apart from the ones which describe activities, I’ve tried to keep it short and sweet.

So….here goes!

Day 1: your favourite activity from 2018

It’s got to be the “I’m an expert” activity that my friend Charlie showed me. It’s prep-free and really gets students talking. I’ve done it with several different classes and it’s always gone down well.

It goes something like this:
1) Students write their name and the sentence “I’m an expert in __________________” at the top of a piece of paper. E.g. Emma. I’m an expert in vegetarian food. 
(Some of my students were very modest and didn’t think they were experts in anything, so we said that they could write “I’m interested in ______________” instead).

2) Students leave their paper on their desk and walk round the room, writing questions for other students. It’s really important that everyone writes their name next to their question (I’ve learned from experience to demo and ICQ this stage…).
E.g. Emma. I’m an expert in vegetarian food.
What’s your favourite dish? (Charlie).
If you could only eat one vegetable for a month, what would that vegetable be? (Katie).

Monitor and help students with vocab / question form. Ideally, allow enough time for everyone to write a question for everyone else in class.

3) Students mingle, finding the people who’ve written questions for them and answering them. Monitor and note down language to upgrade as necessary. This stage always takes a lot longer than I expect because the students are generally very into their conversations.

4) Do feedback on content (students share the interesting/surprising things they’ve learned from their classmates) and language.

I did this activity with my intermediate group in an unassessed lesson during Delta Module 2 and we had a great time – it took up a whole hour, and we ended up talking about a huge variety of topics (the NBA, how to design a race car, the role of religion in Cuban society, typical Spanish and English food, and Brexit).

Day 2: most memorable story from 2018

It’s only vaguely teaching-related: being in a house fire the day before the Delta Module 1 exam and having to move flats immediately because we couldn’t stay there. I was pretty shaken up, but my friends and colleagues couldn’t have been kinder. And Delta seemed so unimportant after that…

Day 3: the best piece of advice you were given in 2018

Teach the students, not the plan.

Day 4: the moment in 2018 you felt proud as a teacher

Working on my YL teaching and noticing improvements. And presenting at an online conference for the first time (IH TOC 10)

Day 5: your favourite memory as a student

Studying abroad in Chile and experiencing a very different university culture (the stray dogs, the Friday parties, the tear gas). I’m still in touch with a lot of the friends I made then.

Day 6: the funniest story from 2018

My adults’ end-of-year test coincided with the Poland-Senegal match during the World Cup. As they obviously couldn’t use their phones during the test, they persuaded me to keep a scoreboard, and their reactions every time a goal was scored was hilarious.

You mean you don’t have a special column on your board for the football scores?!

Day 7: your favourite coursebook in 2018

Ready for First was good for FCE writing and Use of English. Apart from that….pass. I’m not a great fan of coursebooks in general.

Day 8: a new idea you implemented in 2018

I tried to focus a lot more on learner autonomy and resources for self-study with all my groups. It worked best with my intermediate adults, as I did the same challenge with my Polish.

Day 9: your favourite teaching aid in 2018

Scrap paper (I’ve been trying to use fewer materials, and scrap paper is so versatile).

Day 10: the best joke you’ve heard in 2018

Pass (I’m terrible at remembering jokes). Have this vaguely ELT-related meme instead.


Day 11: the moment in 2018 when you felt proud of your student

It’s really hard to choose just one student… almost all of my students made me proud. But if I have to choose: realizing how much more confident a particular in-company student was and how hard she’d worked.

Day 12: your favourite teaching website in 2018

I can’t pick just one….

Lesson Plans Digger and Tubequizard.

Day 13: the person who inspired you in 2018

My mum (a former secondary school history teacher). She still lives in the town she taught in, where I grew up, and regularly bumps into her old students, who always seem pleased to see her. I hope some of my students remember me as fondly in the future. She taught me that teaching is all about the people.

Day 14: the moment in 2018 you realised WHY you’re doing your job

Seeing my “difficult” YL class get excited about making story books in English, and working really well together.

Day 15: your greatest challenge in 2018

I left my comfort zone a lot (doing Delta, and teaching some challenging classes). It was a bit stressful.

Day 16: your strongest point as a teacher

I know that there’s still so much more for me to learn.

Day 17: most motivational idea/quotation/picture in 2018

“Be the change you want to see”.

Day 18: 3 reasons why you became a teacher

The pay?  (Joke).

I love languages and working with people. And I really wanted to go back to Chile.

Day 19: your favourite teaching application in 2018

Quizlet 🙂 (one of my students described it as “better than Facebook”).

Day 20: a piece of advice you would give to a rookie teacher

I wrote a whole blog post about the things I wish I’d known as a new teacher 🙂

Day 21: the best CPD book you read in 2018

Listening in the Language Classroom, by John Field (over one weekend, in the middle of Delta Module 2…).

Day 22: your greatest frustration in 2018

Lack of work-life balance (I studied for Delta Module 1 and 3 while working full time).

Day 23: one thing you want non-teachers to understand

I am a “real teacher”, not just a backpacker. I’m qualified and I care about my job.

Day 24: your most memorable teaching experiment in 2018

Videoing myself teach. I hated doing it, but it really helped me pinpoint things I could improve on. I suppose I’d do it again…

Day 25: your personal success in 2018

Getting a Distinction for Delta Module 1 (I have terrible exam-related anxiety, so this was a REALLY BIG DEAL).

Day 26: one thing you plan to change in 2019

I want to have a better work-life balance. No to taking work home!

Day 27: your greatest discovery in 2018

I feel so much more confident than I did before.

Day 28: which superpower would make you a Super-Teacher

I wish I could magically help my students believe in themselves more.

Day 29: one area to improve in your teaching in 2019

I want to spend more time reviewing and recycling vocab with my classes (I always run out of time!).

Day 30: how do you plan to start your first lesson in 2019

My first lesson in 2019 probably won’t be until March….some GTKY activities, I suppose.

Day 31: the most important thing you want to remember tomorrow

The things I worried about most in 2018 didn’t happen/weren’t that bad after all… and I feel happy right now.


A moment of absolute calmness (celebrating my birthday by going hiking in Torres del Paine, Chile, with a good friend).

2018 was quite an intense year but, overall, a good one. I lived in 3 countries (Poland, Spain, and the UK) and finally managed to go back to Chile and visit my Chilean friends. I met some amazing people, who I hope to keep in touch with. I feel that I’ve developed a lot as a teacher and I’m really excited to start my new job in Chile in March


4 thoughts on “December reflection challenge

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