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
You
  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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Saturday, 2 April 2016

Allow Your Students to Give Themselves Participation Points

In 2012, I wrote a post about having students grade themselves and I still stand by that post today. I don't think it's fair for a teacher to judge how much effort a student puts forth. After all, you could get a student who's lived abroad and speaks English fluently, so English is easy for them. Or you could have a shy student who isn't comfortable talking in front of the class.

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I used to have students grade themselves at the end of the semester, but found that it was hard for them to remember what they did on a daily basis. Now I have them grade themselves at the end of each class. Below you can find what I do. Here's another rubric a teacher uses. It discusses participation, collegiality, and conduct. Some teachers downright refuse to grade participation. Here are their reasons why.

The first day of class I give them all a note card. They write their name, school ID, and class ID at the top. On the front there are two sections: Active and L1. On the back there are also two sections: Phone and Materials.

The first section is worth 3 points each. If they're active in class they can get up to 3 points. If they use their L1, they can lose up to 3 points. The back is worth 1 point each. If they didn't use their phone for texting or social media they can get 1 point. If they didn't bring their materials (pen, book, A4 paper), then they can lose 1 point. If they're absent, even if their absence is excused, they get no points for that day.


At the end of the semester, they add up all the points and subtract the points they lost. I then grade them on a curve and give participation points out in increments of 5. The top people get 25%. The bottom people get 5%. I don't usually give 0% for participation unless they never showed up or slept in every class. I've found this works as you have proof of their participation, makes grading easier, and students are becoming responsible for their grades. It's also much better to do this daily as they are more likely to tell the truth.

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Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Is Not Getting Renewed the Same as Getting Fired?

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The short answer is no. There are many reasons teachers don't get renewed ,such as . . .
If you truly did something bad, a school wouldn't keep you on their staff and wait for your contract to run out. Don't take it personally. The bubble burst long ago and it's an employers' market.

Pick yourself, dust yourself, and move on. There are better jobs out there (the best TEFL jobs in the world is a good place to start looking) and you might as well get one of them. 

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