Tony Gurr

Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

When DIGITAL Natives… ‘Sleep’!

In Adult Learners, News & Updates (from the CBO), Technology on 19/03/2014 at 10:39 am

Slide628

I have been working far too hard these past few weeks – and, as we all know;

All work, and no play…makes Tony Hoca a “dull” boy!

Tony Hoca (new avatar)

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This weekend, I did a little webinar for those lovely boys and girls (all girls, actually!) over at The Spring Blog Festival – and talked about my own visual literacy “journey”.

I’m still getting the hang of this “webinar busyness” – time just whizzed by and I had so much fun doing it! And, to boot – I made some new cyber-playmates”

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Slide11

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THANK YOUNellie Hocam, Shelly Hocam and Slyvia Hocam 😉

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Doing that session (at 22:00 on a Sunday nite!) really helped me remember how important it is to thunk about visual literacy – in my bloggery…and my life in general:

Slide3

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…but sometimes that “little boy” can go too far!

Camera…software…editing “time”:

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When digital natives go to sleep (TG ver)

When digital immigrants go to sleep (TG ver)

…on the sofa TONITE, I guess!

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Have a GREAT day!

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How to KILL Creativity!

In Our Schools, Our Universities, Technology on 25/08/2013 at 10:23 am

Creativity (Sir Ken quote 01)

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You might not know this…

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BUT, there’s a reason why I have never invited Bill Gates to do a guest-post on the ‘ole blog:

Bill Gates on constructivism (ver 02 TG)

OK – there’s more than ONE!

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However, I think not having a clue about allthingsLEARNing…is a pretty good one!

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To be fair, he did say this way back in 2011…he’s probably LEARNed a great deal since he started throwing more money than God at his pet” “educational” “projects (not quite sure where to put the quotation marks there)!

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When we think about it though – really think about it. It’s kinda funny that one of the “giants” of the IT industry, an industry that prides itself on creativity, should say something like that. I mean Bill has an Education degree (a masters even) and has been in the classroom for well over 20 years, yes?

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Come on! It’s not as if he “bought” his seat at the “educational reform” table!

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Steve Jobs on Bill Gates

What if Steve was right?

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I couldn’t say!

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But, let’s assume…for a minute…that he is – what was it that “killed” the creativity in Bill Gates?

He came from a good family…got the best education money could buyBUT lost something along the way.

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Well, I overheard a conversation on the Metrobus yesterday (who says my posts are based on gossip and hearsay?). It seems Bill Gates was part of the group of kids used in the longitudinal study carried out by George Land and Beth Jarman (a fair few years back).

This study (among others) tells us that only around 2% of adults are “creative geniuses” (after the age of 25) – but, surely that’s better than our kids, yes? We can all learn to get more creative as we go through life…

Study (Land and Jarman 1998)

Ahh…now it all makes sense!

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Yes, me and my dogs…all thunked the same when we saw those numbers, too!

Creativity and My Dogs

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You see:

Creativity (Sir Ken quote 02)

BUT…but…but…

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Steve Jobs (and Margaret Mead’s grandmother) had the solution:

Margaret Mead and her Education ver 02 TG

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BUT…but…but…

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What about the kids already in school? What about the teachers? Do we have nothing to help them out?

Research?

Real, recent…research?

The type not overheard on an İstanbul Metrobus?

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Well, let’s have it, baby!

Creativity Study 01

Creativity Study 02

Creativity Study 03

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MmmmTRANSformation…sounds like one of those “commie plots” my dad told me all about…more like a REVolution!

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Creativity Study 04

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Oh, OK…not too shabby!

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You mean, it’s just that easy?

Let’s get on that! Hey, yes…all you Ministry of Education bods!

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Yeah, right!

…till then – I guess it falls to us TEACHers (again):

Creativity (Einstein Quote ver 03)

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BUT, there is one last question:

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How exactly did Gates become a Master of the Universe (two universes, actually…it would now appear)?

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If you want some “BEDtime READing” – check out Tony’s CREATIVITY Library

In Praise of CREATIVITY (Pt 02 – from GUEST BLOGGER Chaz Pugliese)

In ELT and ELL, Guest BLOGGERS, Teacher Learning, Teacher Training on 17/08/2013 at 5:40 pm

Creative ADULT (Le Guin quote) Ver 02

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In the last post from Chaz, we looked at the concept of creativitywhat it is, where it is and its role in the classroom.

Chaz pointed out that, given the right type of motivation, everyone can be creative. But creativity doesn’t  just happen like that; it needs to be embraced, invited, nurtured and encouraged.

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Creativity (Sir Ken quote 01)

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In this second post, Chaz talk about three stimulating strategies he uses to boost his own creative potential. For each of these he provides a short outline and an example to illustrate how it can be implemented in the classroom. He also describes an activity teachers can use themselves to overcome blocks and fears and to unleash their own creativity.

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Strategy 1: Simplicity

Keeping things simple in the classroom involves focusing on the learner rather than on the materials to be ‘covered’. Most importantly, to teach more simply is to teach more purposefully and with a minimum of needless distraction. If necessity is the mother of invention, then frugality definitely plays a big role in boosting our creativity.

The simplicity strategy can be spectacularly applied in the language learning classroom – in activities that require little or no preparation time and which are designed to use the students as our primary resource. What you need, to put this strategy into practice, is some knowledge of who your students are as people, what they like and how they like to learn.

The rest is down to some thinking, some work and, to a lesser extent, some inspiration.

Creativity (Emerson quote 01)

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Blind portrait (a warmer)

Level: Any

Preparation: Have some pencils and A4-size sheets of paper ready.

Method:

  1. Put the students into pairs and make sure they have a piece of paper and a pencil each.
  2. Ask them to draw each other’s portrait without ever looking at the paper.
  3. When they’ve finished, ask them to compare their portraits (this inevitably triggers laughter).
  4. The lesson can now start.
  5. Alternatively,  and especially if the students don’t know each other very well, you can ask them to draw the same object in the classroom – again, without looking at the paper.

Comment

Over the years I have found that using a touch of humour in the classroom is a great tool to diffuse tension and relax the students (and, often, the teacher).

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Strategy 2: The ability to “play”

Think, if you can, of a life deprived of play. You give up? I don’t blame you.

The ability to play is the capacity to have serious, purposeful fun. This is seen by many creativity researchers as an important step in the creative process. In the words of psychologist Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, ‘there’s no question that a playful attitude is typical of creative individuals … but coupled with its antithesis, a quality of perseverance and endurance’. As early as the 16th century, Erasmus and Montaigne both recommended games as mnemonic devices, and recently Guy Cook has explained how play has a cognitive function that supports and fosters creative thinking.

A playful attitude is important in the classroom because it helps the teacher create a stress-free environment, and is essential because it allows us to pay heed to the child within us that is still longing to be creative and playful. We can approach self-expression with a greater sense of balance and, in some cases, with renewed enthusiasm, making it easier for our creativity to flourish.

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Lingo Novo

Level: Intermediate and above

Preparation: None, as such, beyond keeping an eye open, as always, for the best time to do it.

Method:

1.Ask the students to work in pairs.

2.Tell them they have ten minutes to invent a new language. This language should include:

  • a greeting
  • a farewell
  • expressions for:
  • thank you
  • please
  • sorry
  • why and because
  • if
  • a positive comment (I like the weather.)
  • a negative comment (I’m not Jean Jacques.)

3.When they are ready, ask the students to form new pairs and to teach each other their new languages.

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Strategy 3: Risk taking

Risk taking is about getting out of one’s comfort zone. Charlie (‘Bird’) Parker is one of the most influential jazz musicians who ever lived. The first time he played in a jazz club, he got booed off the stage, and the drummer even threw a cymbal at him in sheer anger. Parker’s sin had been to venture into new territory: he wasn’t interested in playing mainstream music, and that’s the risk he chose to take. He persevered and contributed to the birth of a whole new chapter in the history of jazz. Bird was prepared to be wronghe had the guts to challenge the establishment, and that’s perhaps the lesson for all of us: creativity takes courage.

Risk-taking (quotes)

Taking risks doesn’t come naturally to a lot of us; it makes us feel uncomfortable and edgy.

This comes from a fear of being wrong. As children, we feel free to experiment with reality and we don’t care about the results. By the time we are adults, we lose that capacity and become frightened of doing things differently. This is largely because we stigmatise mistakes. So, what we do, according to Sir Ken Robinson, is to ‘educate ourselves out of creativity’.

However, there is only one alternative if you don’t want to take risks, and that is to play it safe – to give in to the sirens of routine, an approach which never really pays dividends. Risk taking in the classroom is about assessing the situation, daring to try different approaches and entering the discomfort zone. The outcome won’t be spectacular at first, but taking risks is a necessary step if one intends to engage oneself seriously on this path.

Creativity (Scott Adams quote 01)

Picture this

Level: Intermediate and above

Preparation: You will need a set of pictures of works of art.

Method:

1.Put a collection of pictures of works of art on your desk. Invite all the students to come up and pick one picture they’d like to do some work on.

2.Ask them not to show their pictures to anyone.

3.Put the students into pairs (A and B). Explain that the As are going to describe the opposite of the picture they’ve chosen, and that the Bs should draw or write (see the Comment below) the opposite of what they hear from the As. Thus: If A says: ‘In this painting there’s a cat sitting in a tree’, B may draw or write: ‘The monkey’s eating a banana’ or even ‘There’s a dog sleeping on the sofa’.

4.Give them a good ten minutes for this. When they’re ready, ask them to check B’s picture or description against the original. How close did they get?

5.Invite the students to exchange roles.

Comment

The idea of an ‘opposite’ is naturally very subjective, hence there’s an element of creativity that makes the activity more engaging. It is important to provide the students with options. Some may prefer to write a description, others may like to draw. By giving them a choice, hopefully the activity will more inclusive.

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Overcoming blocks and fears

Not a single person I have met finds it easy to nurture and unleash their creativity.

As teachers, we have to deal with all sorts of fears that may keep us from being creative, including fear of change, fear of accepting failure, fear of rocking the boat, fear of standing out, fear of disappointing and fear of uncertainty. Working in an environment that doesn’t value creativity is another huge mountain to climb.

Creativity (Matisse quote 01)

Having worked with hundreds of teachers on creativity courses, I know from experience that discovering that we can actually begin to create is the real trigger. There are no magic wands and no easy tricks, but please try the activity below. It is easy and powerful, and it should get you started.

Remember two thingsthat there is no such thing as right or wrong and that you need to trust the process.

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Comment:

The same exercise can be done using pictures. Visualise a picture you’re familiar with and, when the image is clear, change its colours, add or eliminate features, etc. Remember to experiment and to let your imagination run free. It is the process that matters: you may feel particularly proud of the end product – or not!

The same exercise can be done using pictures. Visualise a picture you’re familiar with and, when the image is clear, change its colours, add or eliminate features, etc. Remember to experiment and to let your imagination run free. It is the process that matters: you may feel particularly proud of the end product – or not!

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The music of change

1.Take a few moments to relax, unwind and ‘gather attention’. Feel every muscle in your body relax and let your breathing become even and deep.

2.Now visualise a piece of music you like: anything, a song or an instrumental piece. Play it in your head. Play it loudly, as if someone were performing it in front of you.

3.Focus on the details. When the image is clear, change just one feature of the music. For example, change the tempo from slow to fast or from fast to slow.

4.Now change another feature in your imagination. For example, hear different instruments performing the music.

5.Keep changing the music as ideas spring to mind until you hear a whole new different piece of music, something neither you nor anyone else has ever heard.

6.Be as daring or as subtle as you wish, but allow your mind room for something new each time.

7.What does the creative experience feel like? Take some time to think about this.

8.Make notes and share with a partner or discuss with your colleagues – according to the possibilities of the situation you are in.

Change (Margaret Mead quote) Ver 02

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If you want to learn more about creativity, why not take a look at Chaz’s book – “Being Creative: The Challenge to Change in the Classroom” (DELTA, 2010).

Chaz also recommends the following “bedtime reading”:

  • Cook, G – Language Play, Language Learning OUP (2000)
  • Csikszentmihalyi, M – Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention HarperCollins (1996)
  • Robinson, K – Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative Capstone (2001)

Creativity (Sir Ken quote 02)

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ALSO, in case you want a bit more BEDtime READing – check out Tony’s CREATIVITY Library! Now, tell me if you can’t find 3 (or 6) books there to keep you going!

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Tony’s CREATIVITY Library

In Praise of CREATIVITY (Pt 01 – from GUEST BLOGGER Chaz Pugliese)

In ELT and ELL, Guest BLOGGERS, Teacher Learning, Teacher Training on 17/08/2013 at 5:12 pm

Am I creative enough (TG ver 01)

We’ve all asked ourselves that question, haven’t we?

I know I have…still do – every day!

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Today, we have a guest post from Chaz Pugliese, a teacher-trainer and musician (he plays a mean blues tune or twobased in Paris. Chaz and I met in Istanbul a few months ago and when I learned his “passion” was allthingsCREATIVITY – I just had to ask how he felt about allthingsBLOGGING!

I’m glad I didTake a read – feel free to contact him at chazpugliese@gmail.com.

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He’ll be back soon with “Part İki”

Creativity (Niebuhr quote 01)

We live in a culture that doesn’t encourage us to be creative unless there’s a chance we are going to strike it big with a commercial hit. Creativity, like so much else in our world, has been co-opted into consumerism and its worth calculated by how much money it generates.

The teaching world is no exception: the big pull is towards standardization, exams, regimented syllabi, a senseless don’t rock the boat attitude, intellectual shortsight that will do nobody a favor. The Victorian art critic John Ruskin, when asked why he was teaching factory workers to draw, said:

“I’m not teaching them to draw, I’m teaching them to see”.

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Isn’t learning a language, too, a way of learning to see anew? I would venture to say that enhanced seeing and feeling are the real reasons to create, whether it is an exercise, a song, a haiku, or a brand new thought.

Creativity (Angelou quote ver 03)

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A creative teacher knows how to get his/her students’ attention. and help them keep it. A creative teacher knows how to teach in ways that are meaningful to the students. A creative teacher will always find ways to make her lessons stick.

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Creative teachers can do all that.

Creativity is not an optional extra for a teacher, but rather the foundations to base our practice upon. Think of the word creativity and images of imposing Renaissance men or 20th century iconoclast physics will come to mind. Well, luckily for us common mortals, the story is a little more complex than that. If you’re after a genius type of creativity and you’re wondering whether this article will make you attain the heights of a Leonardo da Vinci or BachI’m sorry to say that, no, it won’t. But please read on, there’s hope. If we talk about an everyday type of creativity, absolutely everyone can be creative.

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In this post we will tackle a few important questions such as:

  • What is creativity?
  • Why should I bother?
  • How can I become more creative?

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What is creativity?

But what are we talking about when we’re talking about creativity? There are as many as 125 different definitions of creativity in the literature.

Creativity (Sir Ken quote 03 definition)

One thing is certain, there’s more to creativity than just thinking outside the box (or divergent thinking as it is called by creativity researchers). In fact, there seems to be general consensus that rather than just a single trait, creativity is best thought of as a cluster of skills used to produce an idea that is novel and culturally appropriate or valued.

There’s another definition I have always liked by professor Robert Sternberg, perhaps the world’s leading researcher in the field. For him, creativity is a decision we take. Wanting to be more creative is the main drive, the rest is up to hard work.

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Why should I bother? 

Creativity (Einstein quote 01)

A few years ago a few hundreds school kids in the UK were asked to name the qualities they thought a top teacher should have. What came first was ‘originality’, followed by ‘fairness’. This is hardly shocking news: great teachers have known all along that you can’t teach anyone anything if you haven’t managed to get through to them. And the best way to get our students’ attention is through a surprise: yes, kids like to be surprised (but don’t we all?), and anything that smacks of routine is bound to fail. So, a surprise gets us attention.

Interestingly, this seems in line with neurobiology research findings on the quality of attention: one of the four factors that has an impact on attention, and gets the students in a state of mental arousal is novelty (the three others are a perceived need, meaning, and emotions). Without creativity, we wouldn’t be able to come up with any surprises. Without creativity, we wouldn’t be able to cater for the great diversity of our classrooms: mixed levels, mixed intelligences. And without creativity, we wouldn’t be able to inject new life in the coursebook, either.

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How can I become (more) creative?

Creativity (Scott Adams quote 01)

The idea that creativity is a gift bestowed upon a few select ones by the gods above is one of those myths that tend to stick around for a long time. Just like intelligence, creativity is not a fixed, unitary trait, and can be in fact developed. But creativity needs to be invited, welcome, embraced. There is a myth about the creative soul that if you don’t feel inspired, you don’t have it.

I’ve been a musician for 30 years and if I had to depend on my inspiration every time I picked up my guitar, the guitar would stay mute. I’ve experienced every emotion imaginable when I play—from abject terror to sheer frustration to feeling absolutely nothing—and through it all like a recalcitrant mule, I have plodded on.

Creativity (Steve Jobs quote 01)

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There’s no quick fix, no magic recipe, but  below are just a few things that may get you going:

  • Cherish the company of creative people around you. Engage them in conversation, ask questions, tease them.
  • Seize the moment. Always keep a notepad and a pencil ready. When an idea strikes, don’t EVER brush it aside thinking you’ll remember it later. You won’t. That’s not the way our brain works, once that synopsis is gone, it’s probably gone forever.
  • Is there a time of the day that seems to be conducive to better thinking? If so, try to stick to it.
  • Don’t be disappointed if what had seemed a great insight doesn’t lead to much. Put it on the back burner, you’ll come back to it later. Sometimes an idea needs a good incubation period. Nurture it, take it apart, play around with it. Play, play and play.
  • Take baby steps. You’re not out there to blaze new trails, or revolutionize the ELT world. Just keep telling yourself that every little bit helps. Fail, but fail better each time, to quote Beckett.
  • Value feedback, but believe in what you do and persevere. Charlie Parker was mercilessly booed off the stage for playing something new. Negative reactions didn’t stop him from pressing ahead and become the greatest jazz musician who ever lived.
  • Take sensible risks. Remember: learners like to be surprised, but they certainly don’t like to be shocked.

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So here’s what I’d like to see:  creativity training in ALL Teacher Training programs, from the newly-initiated or the inexperienced all the way up to MA level!

Creativity (Matisse quote 01)

THUNKS…for Teachers (this time)!

In Adult Learners, ELT and ELL, Teacher Learning on 27/07/2013 at 8:26 am

Teacher THUNKS 01

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A short while back I did a couple of posts on “THUNKS”:

…and highlighted the great little book from Ian Gilbert  –  The Little Book of THUNKS – 260 questions to make your brain go ouch!

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A lot of you seemed to like this notion of THUNKingas any TEACHer worth her salt should. One of my friends also suggested that I read the follow-up book that Ian also did… – there was another?

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As it happened, I had actually bought that one , too – The Book of Thunks – but as I was moving house (I have done this soooooo many times over the last 17-18 years). The book remained packed…and it was not until I moved to big, bad İstanbul last month (and to a new house…again) that I re-discovered it.

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As was the case with the first, it was chokablock with some great thunkssome of them about LEARNing:

Teacher THUNKS 03 (three from Ian Gilbert)

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The problem was…as I worked my way through the thunks, very few of them were directly linked to TEACHers. This is probably because Ian had set up this book as a set of dinner-party conversation starters – designed to annoy the bloody hell out of unwanted guests, no doubt.

So…I decided to adapt a few of them – like the one in the very first image of this post.

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Now, that one might not make your brain go “ouch”…but it sent shivers down my back! Go on…THUNK it over for a minute – and then ask your “boss” what she thunks!

I dare YOU!

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I started by playing with this one:

Teacher THUNKS 02

OMG! That’s a bit serious, Tony…I work in the Gulf!

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Here’s another:

Teacher THUNKS 04

Now, this is a topical one!

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What about this one:

Teacher THUNKS 05

İsa, Meryem and Yusuf! Tony…

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Try this one:

Teacher THUNKS 06

Now, that’s a conundrum!

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Hey, try this – with a few TEACHer-pals:

Teacher THUNKS 07

Bet they never RT your tweets again!

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This one is for any TEACHer that has taught in a Turkish primary or high school – to lighten things a little:

Teacher THUNKS 08

I thought they were both “dead“!

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I thought they would all be good for TEACHer pot-luck parties (most of us can’t afford to host a dinner party).

If your brain is not hurting too much, drop us a comment with your reflecto-THUNKS!

Enjoy…

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If you like these THUNKS….and want to do some of your own – why not pop over to www.thunks.co.uk and “add” a few yourself!

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Bedtime Reading: The Book of Thunks

When Spoon-feeding the “Kids” is NOT Enough… (not a RE-boot)!

In Adult Educators, ELT and ELL, Teacher Learning, Teacher Training, The Paradigm Debate on 09/07/2013 at 11:53 am

Spoonfeeding TEACHers 02

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This was a question a very irate TEACHer-cum-PARENT asked me the other week. She was, of course, talking about LEARNing our kids to feed themselves.

“They are turning my kid into a little test-drone” – she told me. Here, she was talking about her child’s school…and, probably, she wasn’t far wrong.

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Most of our schools are firmly grounded on 4 ways of “doing business”:

Spoonfeeding TEACHers 03

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Yeah…sorry about that – but, if it’s any consolation, that little image up there took me ages to do…guess I was making up for that last, imagesiz blog post I did.

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I don’t want to get into all of them – one-by-one – and, besides, most of you know what I thunks:

LEARNing (cannot be delivered) Ver 02

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You also know…in your heart-of-hearts that:

High Grades and LEARNers (Wiggins quote)

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I do not really care how many practice books, online resources, mock tests, or so-called “extra-curriculuar” tutoring sessions a school offers its kids…if these materials or opportunities are of the just-in-case, EXAMocracy type (rather than the just-in-time, LEARNing type) – the result is the same.

Pigeon holes (even of the “multiple intelligence variety”) are too small for our kids!

Hey, I did manage to cover them all!

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Twilight Zone 01b (TG edit).jpg

However, the story did not stop there.

I got a call from one of the “team” at the school (where my friend sends her kid) – quite by co-incidence.

They wanted me to to come to their school at the end of August and…wait for it…. “deliver a lecture” to their TEACHers…a 60-minute lecture, no less / no more (because, I was told, TEACHers cannot focus for more than 50-60 minutes) on….wait for it… “creativity with the new textbooks they have adopted” .

Do they not know me…at all?

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HULK (keep calm TG Ver)

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To add insult to injury…they also asked me if I knew any other native-speakers that would be prepared to come a give a 60-minute session on…and this was the killer… “any topic they wanted!

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The SECRET (Expletive)

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Now, I’m not going to get into the whole “NS vs. NNS TEACHer thingy” (though I would really love toI would)! But, it’s worth exploring some of the the other underlying assumptions…behind this seemingly simple request.

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There are many schools (and universities, too) out there that are basically looking for a way to “fill up” the Summer schedules of their TEACHers…called back to work far too early…when nothing of much value has been planned.

Now, I’m not saying this is the case here…Vallahi Billahi…(yep, Google Translate still sucks!) – but the request “smelled” of something…something very fishy!

Balik bastan kokar (TR ver)

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Why would a school want to invite a speaker or trainer to “do” a session on “anything they wanted” ?

Thunk about that for a minute…

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Even worse…why (oh, bloody why) would they want someone to come and deliver a lecture on a topic area or theme that is clearly so grounded on critical thunking, classroom practice and collaborative co-creation?

We’re talking about “creativity“, guys – not exam prep classes!

Duh (TG ver 4 blog)

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Now, call me old-fashioneddoesn’t happen very often…but I’m OK with it.

I’ve always believed that:

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The ART of TEACHing (van Doren quote) Ver 02

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…it just makes sense that TEACHer LEARNing (TRAINing, even – though I do prefer my other term), should follow the same principle…similar processes.

You know, all that stuff about “walking-our-talk” and “being the change we want to see in the classroom” –

posing and answering questions together,

working stuff out together,

solving real problemsTOGETHER!

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Motivation (the CHALLENGE)

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But, then again, maybe some schools just feel it’s easier to “manage” their TEACHers…when they manage their “diet”, too!

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Feeding our TEACHers is important…

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The problem is, however, that wonderful advice that Neila Hocam (yes, click on that link – it is a “real” book) gives us:

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If you dont feed the TEACHers (Connors quote) Ver 02

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…is also dependent on the “type of food” we make available to our TEACHers!

 

When does a THOUGHT turn into a THUNK?

In Classroom Teaching, Our Schools, Our Universities, Teacher Learning on 21/06/2013 at 9:57 pm

When it’s used by a TEACHer!

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Looking differently (Gilbert quote)

And…if we don’t do it, who will?

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I once heard a very wise woman (might have been a man) say “The raising of kids is far too important…to leave to parents”!

OK – that was another “fib”…just made it up!

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A few days back, I did a wee post based on one of my favourite books – The Little Book of THUNKS – by Ian Gilbert.

A couple of you asked me to elaborate a little…so, at the risk of breaching Ian’s IP rights, here you go (BUT, do try and get a copy of the book…it is lovely)!

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What I didn’t tell you (then) is that Ian is a TEACHer.

His whole book and it’s wonderful 260 thunks (I actually think there maybe 264 in there…but let’s not quibble) fell out of his work with Matthew Lipman and his P4C Programme

Go on, have a guess…

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P = ?

“4” is easy-peasy

C = ?

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Philosophy for Children!

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What a wonderful bloody idea…sorry…THUNK!

Ian describes how using this type of “approach” (Socratic…in essence) with this type of “content”…really allows kids to use that little creativity gene they have (you know, the one most schools try and surgically remove before graduation).

This is because THUNKS act as “thought hand grenades” (love that phrase)!

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Just look at these TWO:

THUNKS 01 and 02

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…or better – a couple that touch on SCHooling:

THUNKS 07 and 08

What kid is NOT going to have a field day with those?

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BTW – if I hear that any of you have told your kids (or young adults) that the “opposite” of LEARN is…UNlearn…I will hunt and track you down and then eat your first-born…click HERE to find out just why!

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The “trick”?

Well, programmes like P4C (or any “inquiry-based” approach) are designed to help kids “take back” their creative (and critical) thinking skills. They are designed to give students a “voice”…and, the stuff they “create” is nothing short of amazing!

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This means?

TEACHers need to throw the “grenade”…and get out of the bloody way!

Ian actually gives a wide range of “tips” for TEACHers (in the book)…tips that I have boiled down and ranted about on the little ole blog (from time to time):

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TEACH less CONSULT more

You know I am “right”…

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I want to say…a CONSULTing TEACHer can often do a far better job than a TEACHing TEACHerand I’m trying to predict the thunk that might be making a noise in your heads:

Consultants WHY

Sounds like the “job” most of us “signed up” for…YES?

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Take a look at a couple more thunks from Ian:

THUNKS 03 and 04

Are you shiriously telling me that Pages 67-8 of the textbook are BETTER?

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OK…you don’t have to “replace” the textbook totally – but you could start more classes with thunks like these:

THUNKS 05 and 06

You know…many TEACHers already do – and they are much happier with their lot!

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It is these TEACHers that can also get to other questions

THUNKS 09

…questions that MATTER, questions that make a REAL difference!

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Hey, maybe we could even organise some evening classes for “those parentals” – now that would be progress!

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John Holt Quote8

So You Think You Can TEACH?

In Classroom Teaching, Teacher Learning on 19/06/2013 at 7:33 am

SYTYCD 01

Yes…even I have a fewguilty TV pleasures”!

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Now, you would know this…if you read the blog closely:

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The show – So You Think You Can DANCE – brings my wife and I to tears so often we are embarrassed (but NOT with eachother).

The BEAUTY of being able to express yourself so well…through dance…is something both of us are totally new to (or we were…till a few years back).

Actually, many people said (when I was a younger “delikanlı) that I was not half-bad when I trip the light fantastic or shake the old hips (they were so much younger then). I just loved letting my hair down…and “did” what I do in the classroom – expressed MEself!

My darling wife, Nazlı Hanım (OMG! Google Translate is as awful as ever), was at the back of the queue…when this “stuff” was being dished out – same with cooking skills! Tell me again why I took a Turkish bride – no belly-dancing, no love of cooking (but she has done so much of it – for her family…day-in-day-out)!

…25 years of marriage is built on many things…many other things!

DarlingI SEE YOU (always will)…nuff said!

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BUT, we both LOVE the show!

Heck, we will even lie (OK…tell little “fibs” – go to #07) to family members and friends (we love so much – sorry guys) and turn down dinner invitations…just to sit at home and watch these “kids” do their thing…together!

TOGETHER…that is the deal!

 Success (what it really looks like) TG ver

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There’s a bit of the show that we both loveadore, even!

All the “kids” get to Las Vegasto dance for their lives…literally! They have to compete (over days and days) to get to the “Top 20”.

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OK – as an EDUcator, I always hated “competitions”…schools pick the “best” kids (to “show off”), “coach” them to death, and take credit for what the kids would have done anyway!

BUT…this is a DANCE competition…and only the best can survive!

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SYTYCD (TG ver)

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During “Vegas Week”, after days of grueling “battles”…there’s a TEAM-based phase. All these super-talented (and ambitious / hungry) “kids” are asked to listen to a bit of music and CREATE a new dance piece…in a group of 4 or 5!

This part of the show has Nazlı Hanım and I wiping our eyes for hours (and more than a little bit pissed off about all the “prima donas”).

The THING is...

…this phase is where CHARACTER “shines”.

These exhausted kids (after 3 or 4 days) have to stay up all nite and CREATE a routine…a routine that will make the judges “cry” (NOT just Tony Abi and Nazlı Abla)…and get them closer to that “magic Top 20”!

I cannot repeat what Nazlı Hanım says about Adam…and all his crying (he is BTW – a lovely guy)!

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Of course, there’s a lot of “hype” and “fake drama” (Tony Abi and Nazlı Abla are not that “thick”)! BUT, these dancers try to do (and are tested on) what matters!

For a performance…that will bring tears to Tony Abi and Nazlı Abla’s eyes…these kids will find out what each dancer brings to the “game”, they will interpret the MUSIC (the classrom environment and LEARNers…for us TEACHers)…LEARN to ADAPT to eachother and work to make the “audienceFEEL (also the LEARNers…for we TEACHers)…

They stay up all night…they question…they fight! 

They work it out…they WIN!

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UNcover Welcome NEO 02

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In the world of EDUcation…we TEACHers also stay up all nite (hopefully not just to grade tests), we question…we fight (with our wives mostly…Nazlı Hanım refers to my string of desktops, laptops and mobile devices as “Tony’s mistresses”)!

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Isolation (Wagner quote) Ver 03

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But, what a lot of us do not do (enough) is…do all this “together”…

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We “dance“, we do… but…many of us look at it, sadly,  as an individual sport!

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Here’s what I thunk

I wish more of us realised that the notion of MY course is really a bit silly!

What matters (really matters) is the kidsand their LEARNing! More of us need to look at SCHool not as a series of courses (and their tests) – but rather as a number of years that make up the LEARNing “career” of a student.

From the mouths of babes (TG ver)

WHEN…HOW…WHY…did “we” LEARN “them” this!

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If we did that, we might be more tempted to stop preparing individual lessons plans…and start looking for ways to produce the best LEARNing opportunites we can – the best LEARNing environments

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TOGETHER!

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Nigel…if you ever need a co-producer (cum judge) or two for SYTYCTNazlı Abla and I are in!

LEARNing (Adams quote) Ver 02

To THUNK or not to THUNK…

In Our Schools, Our Universities, The Paradigm Debate on 17/06/2013 at 5:34 pm

Are you man made (thunk)

Does that make your brain go “ouch”!

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A lot of people ask me why I use the word thunk so often – and I do…sorry!

I’ve even had people leave a little note on my laptop (after a workshop session or presentation) saying things like this:

THUNK (post it)

Ahhh, that’s so sweet!

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The term THUNK is not mine…well, it is (it belongs to everyone now), actually – after Ian Gilbert gifted it to us in his wonderful book The Little Book of THUNKS – 260 questions to make your brain go ouch!

…way back in 2007.

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Some of Ian’s questions are just so much fun

3 Thunks (Ian Gilbert)

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I think I found the book a year later, when I was in Australia.

I used it so much with advanced LEARNers…and people who wanted to take their (already great) language skills to the next level…that I wore out my first copy! But, even younger adults just love them, too.

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Neyse, when I started the blog…it just fell into my bloggery lexicon – but my questions were not necessarily designed to make anyone’s brain go “ouch”.

I guess I just wanted more of us to “thunk”…in verb form!

…and, I wanted to build my blog on educational issues and questionsEDUthunks, if you will.

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You know, questions like:

EDUthunk 01

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Yeah…I know, my questions are a lot longer!

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This one is not too bad:

EDUthunk 02

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And, what about from that lastmini-dizi I did:

Motivation THUNK

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My head is still “ouching” from that one!

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These “ouches” are good for us all – afterall, is it not questions that drive all our LEARNing? 

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LEARNing (Adams quote) Ver 02

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Ian tells us that “THUNK” is also the “noise that the brain makes when it starts to think about a thunk“! I loved that…and I listen to my own head whenever I get a thunk down on the blog…

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Are there any EDUnoises your head is making today?

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MOTİVASYON – …when TEACHers “LEARN” other TEACHers!

In Classroom Teaching, Our Schools, Our Universities, Teacher Learning, Teacher Training on 15/06/2013 at 5:25 am

A couple of posts ago…I left things with the word LEARNacy!

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Nativation (blog)

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That was a test…and a few of you still need to hit that “little, red word” (I have one of those lovely chaps/chapettes, their “happiness engineers”, at WordPress just sitting there…just for me…analysing my blog data…and she works 24/7…for “free”)!

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LEARNacy is a real word…honest to God!

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But as I have already done a load of posts on it, suffice to say…time to hit the “little, red words” again”:

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Come on…it’s weekend… – “bedtime READing” is what weekends were imagineered for!

X

LEARNacy (new ver TG)

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When I work with TEACHers on motivation, sometimes I get the feeling that we (as a profession) thunk that it is a whole different story…when it comes to kids in the CLASSroom.

To get round this, I try a little exercisea little “pop quiz”…if you will:

Motivation (the QUIZ)

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TEACHers actually like this question (esp. when we take “money” off the table – I am sorry…there is nothing wrong with wanting to “feed your family” and it’s high time we stop beating up on TEACHers for “needing” what every single one of us needs) …and the answers we get would surprise you:

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Motivation (the ANSWERS)

Yes, we TEACHers are human beings, too!

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Now, I think I may have actually “stolen” this idea from somewhere – but, can’t…for the life of me…remember where. The point is that we all need to see that “kids” are not that different to us (when we get them away from the EXAMocracy mentality…and the silly pressures that parents…yes, mummy and daddy…place on their kids)!

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Many of our motivations for coming to school…are social, emotional…all that touchy-feely stuff!

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When we ask TEACHers (as I did with the idea in the last post) if they can apply (or adapt) these “understandings” to their CLASSroom practice, they can…they do:

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Motivation (the AKP plug)

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…but for some reason – this little graphic has been getting me in trouble of late! I paid bloody good money for that image!

so TOLERATE ME!

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Neyse…this is where…and all TEACHers “love” this…we get people to:

Share Share Share

YES! …again! TEACHers looovvveee sharing…and giving helpful ADVICE!

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but...

Even with all this thunking and sharing going on in my TRAINing room…I still get the occasional “question”, every now and again. The kinda question no trainer wants to get when they have just run a great workshop or seminar:

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Motivation (final question from TEACHers)

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Tony! Go on…TELL ME!

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I have another “graphic” up my sleeve…for times like that:

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Motivation (the CHALLENGE)

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Your choice!

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Just remember this one thunk – TEACHers always do it better with other TEACHers!

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BTW…Put these books on your SUMMER READing Listyou will not be disappointed!