Saturday, 1 October 2016

Pros and Cons of Norming in the EFL Classroom

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While norming has been part of education in some parts of the world, such as the USA for a few decades, in others it's just starting to take place. It's the third part of team building: forming, storming, norming, preforming. While norming can be a good thing, care has to be taken to make sure it is done correctly.  Below you can find a few pros and cons to norming.

  • Rubrics are the same: teachers ensure that students are graded based on the same standards.
  • There are standards to learning: since the teachers know what will be on the rubric, this ensures that all students, even those taught by different teachers, will learn the same thing by the end of the semester.
  • It's fairer: all students are held to the same standard.
  • Teachers can easily find problem areas: and then fix them if most students due poorly in one area.

  • No catering to students' needs: individuality is not acknowledge. Everyone is expect to reach the same level despite their different starting levels, abilities, or majors. 
  • Lots of time is wasted: it's hard for teachers to agree on what to put in the rubrics and they rarely receive any training on how to make them.
  • Teaching to the test: since teachers want their students to do well many just teach to the test. 
  • Data isn't used: all this data is gathered, but teachers don't see how their students did compared to other teachers' students.
As you can see there are pros and cons and both need to be carefully considered before norming is used.

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Thursday, 1 September 2016

11 Tips for Working with People You Hate
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You're not going to like everyone you work with. However, as an adult sometimes you're going to have to suck it up and deal with it. You might even have to work on a project with your worst enemy. Below are some tips to help you work with people you hate, whether it's your boss or your colleagues.
  1. Control yourself: It’s easy to get angry or frustrated. Try to keep calm and not take things personally. 
  2. Keep your lips sealed: Don’t complain, especially to your co-workers. If you need to vent, find a close friend or family member who isn’t in the same field as you are. 
  3. Look within: Maybe there’s something that you do that sets the other person off. See if there are some changes you can make. 
  4. Get to know them: I know that you hate them and don’t want to spend any more time than necessary with them, but if you get to know them as a person, you can find out if there’s some reason they act the way they do. Maybe they had a death in the family or are going through a divorce. Getting to know them personally will allow you to empathize with them. 
  5. Confront them: Sometimes people might not intentionally try to set you off. It might just be their personality or sarcastic attitude. Talking to them directly might make them change. If follow what they say in relationships, to say “I feel ____, when you do _____” you’re just using facts to express your feelings. You could also ask them if there’s something that you do that bothers them. It can be a tough pill to swallow, but they might feel that you’re out to get them. 
  6. Rise above them: Don’t sink to their level. If you do it’ll just make you look immature. Rise above it and colleagues will notice.
  7. Give them reasons: Explain why things have to be done by using because. For example, you could say, “Could you please email me the report by 5pm because our boss needs it on his desk first thing tomorrow?” And mind your Ps and Qs; saying please and thank you always help. 
  8. Kill them with kindness: Compliment them. When they offer a snarky opinion, tell them that that’s an interesting perspective. You could also compliment their hard work and effort. 
  9. Remember that relationships are 50/50: It’s all about give and take. Each person adds something to the relationship; rarely is it all one person’s fault. 
  10. Be aloof: Don’t take anything personally. Sometimes people say something because they expect a certain reaction. If you keep your cool and pretend not to care they might stop egging you on. 
  11. Find a mediator: If nothing works, you might have to take things to another level and get someone else involved. Do this only if nothing else works. As adults, you should be able to manage most work conflicts without mediation. 
Looking for more tips?
Check out these links.

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Friday, 1 July 2016

25 Tips for Keeping Cool During the Dog Days of Summer

My post with 26 tips for staying warm in the cold winter months was pretty popular, so I thought I'd write one about how to save money while keeping cool in summer.
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Eating and Drinking
  1. BBQ. It's fun and you won't heat up your house by cooking.
  2. Certain foods like mind, cucumber, and spicy foods can help cool you down. 
  3. Don't use your stove or oven. They really heat up your house. 
  4. Drink more water or drinks with electrolytes
  1. Airism by Uniqlo will help keep you cool by wicking away sweat.
  2. Breathable clothing with natural fibers, such as linen, cotton, silk, and bamboo is a must.  
  3. Cooling toiletries like lotion with aloe vera can really help.
  4. Dress appropriately. Cover up, and wear light clothing and a hat like people in deserts do.
  5. Ice your feet. A cold foot bath with or without ice will help cool you off.  
  6. Hand held fans with or without water are great to take with you anywhere.
  7. Put your hair up. Bonus points if you wet it first. 
  8. Splash water on the back and front of your neck and your inner wrists. 
  9. Spray bottles are great for a quick pick me up. 
  10. Take off your socks. You'll cool off instantly.

Your house
  1. Blackout drapes will keep the hot sun out.
  2. Change your bedding to thinner cotton or bamboo sheets.
  3. Cold packs. These nifty devices can be used again and again. 
  4. Cover your sofa and chairs with light fabric so they don't get too hot. 
  5. Fans. They're much cheaper than running the AC all the time. 
  6. Get out of the house. Go run errands, hit the library, or go to a friend's house.
  7. Open the windows and get a breeze going in your house. 
  8. Go swimming! That's what summer's all about!
  9. Turn off the lights. You'll save money and keep your place cooler.
  10. Watch movies or read books about cold places. 
  11. Put wet towel or glasses of ice in front of a breezy window or a fan.
NB: I'll be on vacation in August. While I'm gone you can read posts by other TEFL Tips authors as well as my other blogs. I will start posting again in September.

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Wednesday, 1 June 2016

3 Ways Reverse Culture Shock Hits Me

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It's that time of year again, when I go home for the summer. I've been living abroad since 2003 and even though I'm still abroad, I get reverse culture shock when I go home to visit. Knowing about culture shock and what to expect will help you get used to life back home. I wrote about some tips to help people deal with reverse culture shock. Even though I know what to expect there are 3 things that get me every time I go back home.

#1 Tipping
I am not a fan of tipping. The history behind tipping is bribery. While it used to be optional and that you only had to tip for exceptional service, nowadays a tip is expect, even if the service is mediocre. 15-20% seems the norm and when you add that on top of taxes and the bill, things can get pricey.

#2 Sales Tax
Where I live tax is included in the bill, so there are no surprises when you go to check out. Although it varies state to state (some states don't have sales tax and some have local taxes on top of sales taxes), the average in 2015 was 5.45%. However, sales taxes and tipping can quickly increase how much you'll pay for things.

#3 Friendly People
I live in a very hierarchical society, where titles and bowing are the norm. While sales clerks may greet you as you enter a store, no one would think to greet you on the street or say hello unless they knew you. Since I'm not used to random people I pass saying hi, sometimes I get accused of being rude and cold back home.

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Sunday, 1 May 2016

3 Reasons Why I Closed My LinkedIn Account

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I closed LinkedIn in September 2014 wary of what would happen when I deleted over 2,000 contacts and 3 dozen recommendations. Now nine months later, I have no regrets and feel less stressed thanks to backing away from social media. There were 3 reasons why I decided to close my LinkedIn account.
  1. Spam: It came in many different forms. There were people selling gold, asking for dates, and just random "just my business" spam. I didn't want to deal with any of it.
  2. Privacy: Lack of privacy was a big issue. Although I was partly to blame since I had so many contacts and had added my information, I wanted to get away from it and protect myself. I don't think everyone needed to know where I went to school, where I had worked, or what conferences I had been to.
  3. No leads: I had originally joined LI in order to network and learn about jobs. The only job offers I had were from pyramid scheme or multi-level marketing.
LinkedIn Isn't the End All
Some people never had a LI account. Others have decided that they'd had enough and closed theirs.
  • Chris Brogan closed his in 2012.
  • Doug Belshaw closed and then re-opened his account.
  • Finding the Forest listed a number of issues leading to why they closed their account. 
  • Heather Bussing from HR Examiner closed her account.
  • Simply Zesty closed theirs in 2011.
There are plenty of ways to network and get good jobs without using LinkedIn.

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