Κυριακή, 18 Νοεμβρίου 2018

Universal Children's Day, 20 November-Ideas to celebrate the day with your students

"November 20th is an important date as it is the date in 1959 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. It is also the date in 1989 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child...Since 1990, Universal Children's Day also marks the anniversary of the date that the UN General Assembly adopted both the declaration and the convention on children's rights...This year the world is going blue! We're asking individuals, schools and corporates worldwide to go blue to help build a world where every child is in school, safe from harm and can fulfil their potential, and we know you do too. Going blue activities include: sharing our promo video for Children's day, signing the global petition and going blue in support of children's rights in social media and much, much more." (Source: http://www.un.org/en/events/childrenday/ )

Watch Unicef's promo video featuring actress Millie Bobby Brown, the famous YouTuber, Lilly Singh aka SuperWoman, actors, Liam Neeson and Orlando Bloomand and singer, Dua Lipa:
If you are interested in celebrating Universal Children's Rights Day you can find more information on United Nation site http://www.un.org/en/events/childrenday/ . You can also find 3 free, printable lesson plans on The World's Largest Lesson Plan (in partnership with Unicef)   http://worldslargestlesson.globalgoals.org/make-every-school-safe-to-learn/

Apart from these there are lots of and lots of resources online on how to raise awareness on human rights in general and children's rights for the day. I will introduce some tools and sites I have been using with my students for years.


Also if you are interested in further research on the issue you can have a look at the following books. 
In our days it's more important than ever to raise children who are aware of human rights and become strong advocates of them as they grow up. It is our only hope against the cataclysmic changes our world has been experiencing for some years now.

Παρασκευή, 29 Ιουνίου 2018

"Like the Story"(?) I sure did! An unforgettable Erasmus+ training course in Ireland!


It was the beginning of summer and my colleague, Chris, let me know about the call for participation for the training course "Like the story" by the organisation Active Youths of Florina. "I thought you might be interested", he messaged me. And indeed I was. A general description of the course included the following - "key phrases" for me: "empower the young people to be critical of their information intake and source", "explore the concept of storytelling and different techniques", "urban legend", "transformative theatre", "challenging stereotypes", "common values","social diversity", "migration", "refugees","social media". I really couldn't be more interested in a course, since I have been dealing with all these issues through projects  at school for the past few years. I had some experience but experience can never be enough! So I applied. And I was chosen. And I have to say this was the best thing I had done for my professional development in years!

Although the course itself is what matters most, I would describe the programme in general, because it was a superb experience from every aspect!

The participants
Thirteen countries participated in the course, two participants from each country. Ramona and Max from Germany, Anna and Kateryna from Ucraine, Mert and Hatice from Turkey, Flavia and Mona from Romania, Irina and Natalia from Russia, Mariam from Georgia-unfrotunately the other partcipant couldn't make it, Nicole and Ronja from Finland, Akylas and I from Greece, Kristel and Stewen from Estonia, Imane and Adib from Morocco, Janos and Kata from Hungary, Gayane and Syuzanna from Armenia. Also Ireland was represented by Vivian, who was waiting for us at the venue.

The venue
The course took place in East Clare Golf Village, a beautiful, tranquil place in the middle of the Irish countryside.The participants stayed in big, two-storey, fully equipped houses. The sessions took place in a big room in the central building-and when the weather was good we did some activities outside- and all meals, except breakfast, in a separate house in the same area. All meals were homemade-delicious Irish bread, as well-by a former member of Fishbowl Youth!

The food
Another thing that contributed to making this experience memorable was the food . The cook  made sure that the food was hot, varied and tasty every single day. She even prepared homemade Irish bread for us- plus she was willing to give us the recipe- and delicious desserts every evening. A very original idea that worked really well was the international breakfast. Each house hosted breakfast every day, which was prepared by participants of 3 or 4 different countries. They had to make the traditional breakfast of their countries. This was a brilliant idea as we had the chance not only to start our day hanging out with each other and socializing, but also to try so many different tastes from so many different countries.

The organisers
Fishbowl Youth was the host organisation. Alan was responsible for taking care of every single detail and he did really well. He was there at the coffee breaks, making sure hot coffee, tea, juice and food was on the spot. He always asked if there was anything the houses were short of and provided everything needed. He even did some shopping from the grocery when someone had a special request. All in all, he was very helpful in all cases. Moreover, he shared his love for guitar playing more than once and offered us moments of authentic Irish entertainment.

The trainers
Sophie and Eelin were absolutely fantastic! And I am not just saying this. The girls were well trained, experienced, with deep knowledge of their subject. They cooperated smoothly not only with each other but with the participants, as well. They were friendly, helpful and inspiring. They created the right atmosphere for contribution and they made everyone feel at ease. They fuelled creativity and boosted the group's dynamics! It was such a pleasure working with them!

The course
Day 1: On day 1 we had to focus on "getting to know" one another and "team building" activities.We were also introduced to the programme's activities, aims and objectives in detail. Among other things we all had to give a brief history of our names and how or why we got these names, which I found so interesting, and complete a 60-minute challenge in groups. What I will certainly remember for the rest of my life is talking to myself in front of the window, part of the challenge and one of the funniest things asked!Other interesting things included in the challenge were: "imitate the final scene of Dirty Dancing", "bring back Michael Jackson (from the dead)" and so on.
Day 2: Day 2 was mostly about "borders". We tried to define the term "borders" and what it means to us and we discussed if its meaning has changed through the years or not. The activity was called "It's a small world" and it was made very clear that we are  all citizens of the world. Because of the places we have visited or the places we want to visit, because of our parents' or our grandparents' origins or just because that's the way we should feel especially in our days. A number of  factors today have made it easier for people to move from one country to another, when they want to and even when they are forced to . We talked about all the reasons that may contribute to people leaving their country, that is economic reasons, political reasons, social reasons and ecological reasons. We also had to share our knowledge for terms like immigration, emigration, refugee, expat, asylum. Last but not least we listed a number of reasons why we would suggest someone to move to our country. Later on the day we talked about exploring and sharing values. This is vital when we want to build a common ground of values, which in turn is critical when we want to boost solidarity and accepting diversity.
Day 3:
On day 3 we focused on Urban legends, where we find them and how we can recognise them. We discussed some common characteristics and we also talked about click baiting and how we can avoid false news and support young people to critically analyse what they read online esp. stories in social media. Participants experienced how a story can change when retold from one person to another and had to prepare a poster with an attractive ( but often misleading) title which would attract many clicks online. After lunch we listened to Abigail's story and we in groups had to rank the 5 characters of the story from worst to best according to their values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviours. There was a heated debate in each group and some groups- for instance,ours- weren't able to make a final decision for their ranking. I think, this was a good lesson to everyone that the way we see and judge others, their values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviours tells a lot about the way we are, our values and beliefs, our attitudes and behaviours. It also taught us that good and bad is a very relative notion, sometimes very difficult to tell from each other.
Day 4:
Day 4 was about stories.  How stories can form beliefs and stereotypes according to the perspective they are told. How powerful can a single story be. This was illustrated succesfully through the inspiring TED talk by the famous writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The danger of a single story. You can watch the talk here:  
https://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story  Then there was an introduction to transformative theatre and after that we listened to the Bremen story and we had to retell and recreate the story from a different perspective. The aim of this activity was to try and see the different sides of the same story. Later on we had to perform the story, which was actually one of the most enjoyable activities of the course.  We then discussed the ladder of inference and how we observe, form beliefs and draw conclusions and all these lead to our actions. Finally, we made an exhibition of our collage self portraits.
Day 5: 
Our last day was mostly about reflection, evaluation and wrapping up of the course. We all had to reflect on what we had experienced during the past days. We had to complete the "shield", put some thought to what we had learnt, what we still needed to learn, where and how we could use it and what might make it harder for us to use what we had learnt. We also had to create a song meddling different songs from 4 decades to perform at the farewell party in the evening.Also, we all talked about our organisations and talked about future collaborations or exchanges. Last but not least, we all left post-it notes for one another with comments on our self-portraits. In the evening, we gathered in a house to perform our songs, give youth passes to one another and party.

*I should not omit refering to all the energizers and outside activities we did which gave a refreshing touch to our sessions. There was such a variety that I really looked forward every time to see what new we would do.

Our day out to Mountshannon:
On our fourth day we visited Mountshannon. Everyone loved this idyllic place by the lake. We walked around the place going shopping and taking photos. Later we went to a local restaurant to have delicious pizza and wine. There was a festive atmosphere and after our dinner we went on with songs and dances from each country. Alan performed some Irish songs with his guitar and we had a great time there. The entertainment went on with a visit to the local pub to get a taste of Irish beer and the traditional gathering around the fireplace telling stories and jokes.

All in all, this course was an unforgettable experience from every aspect. It was beneficial not only for my professional development but also for the expansion of my PLN. It will remain in my memory for many years and I will make use of many things I learnt there in my job.

P.S. I wrote about my experience from memory mostly, so please forgive any omissions, mistakes or twists of memory.

These are some photos from the course.















Παρασκευή, 4 Αυγούστου 2017

To read and how to read? That is the question! - 10 sites to boost your students' reading skills

Tampering with the famous Shakespearean quote I feel that many of you may agree with me that trying to teach reading to students, in a world that students do not read anymore, may turn out to be a very challenging venture! Because the sad truth is that most students do not like reading, either because they don't know what to read, or because they don't know how to read or even because they read for the wrong purpose!

So, it is widely accepted that students do not generally read long texts. They read in the social media. Bits and pieces- short posts, messages, comments, twits. They read, yes, but do they do any serious reading, even in L1? And how can we, teachers of English, expect them to not only cope with long reading texts in a foreign language  but also do tasks on these texts, under these circumstances? It must sound crazy to them! "It is often difficult to convince students of English as a foreign language that texts in English can be understood even though there are vocabulary items and stuctures the students have never seen before. But this is the case, not only for non-native speakers, but also for speakers of English as a first language." (J. Harmer, 191)

Taking all these under consideration, reading is a skill that should be taught from an early age and it should also be practised- a lot! Because, as with all skills, the more you practise, the more efficient you become. A very important factor to encourage students to read something is to arouse their interest and give them a purpose to read. Because in real life we rarely read something without a purpose. Reading always serves a purpose, whether our students realize it or not. We read to gain information, to find out about other people's views, we read about travels and places we've never been to, we read for pleasure-just because "reading takes you places". So it's imperative to first teach our students to recognise the reason they are reading for. Not all texts will be interesting, not all of them will be easy, but we have to read each one of them for the purpose they were written. For this reason the pre-reading or lead-in stage is very important!

No matter what approach we decide to follow as teachers,  the pre-reading stage must always be the first step. Because we have to make our students interested in what they are going to read. We can ask them to predict what the text is going to be about by reading the title, looking at the pictures that may accompany it, stating their personal experience-if any- on the subject matter or just applying their knowledge of the world to relate to the subject matter, ask them to guess some relevant vocabulary that may appear in the text, anything that can help them be more prepared for what is going to follow. If there is little they know about the subject matter, you can ask them to think about what they would like to know about it and then when they read,check if their questions were answered.

Then of course, we can go on with teaching different strategies for reading, scanning, that is reading to extract specific information, skimming, that is reading for general understanding, reading for gist, that is reading for the main idea, or reading for detailed comprehension , which may not be so often but it may still be the case. Of course, all these strategies being taught does not mean students will develop a love for reading. They may just improve their reading skills for the exams. Thus, if you are interested, as an educator,  in raising readers and not only train your students to tackle a reading exam, you may need to think of other ways to deal with reading in your classroom.

Reading may become a daily or weekly routine for pleasure. You may read a funny story to your students to make them relax and have fun. You may read a poem you like. You may read a mystery story and ask them to solve the mystery. You may ask them to bring their own favourite stories to read in class. Finally, you may have a reading club, but keep it as simple as possible, for students to participate with joy and not see it as just another activity they have to do. Of course, you can also talk to them about the benefits of reading in the long run, depending on their age. Or even show them the following table if you think it will help.
                                         (Source: http://www.scilearn.com/blog/daily-reading-practice )

There are many sites for developing reading skills, but I will mention here the ones I have managed to look into a little closer.

1. Storyplace
https://www.storyplace.org/
A preschool activity library, with online stories, online activities, videos and take home activities. Easy and fun!

2. Breaking News English
http://www.breakingnewsenglish.com/
Easy English news materials, according to level. It also provides a techinque to improve your reading speed. There are also other things like mini lessons, dictation and speed listening.

3. Books that grow
http://www.booksthatgrow.com
This is not a free site but it is quite interesting, as it offers many classic books written at different reading levels and it very easy for the teacher to organise and monitor the reading activity of their students. There also other features such as predict, summarise etc. for each book. So, if you are interested in organising a reading class more systematicaly this may be of use to you!

4. Dreamreader
http://dreamreader.net/
This offers free online english reading practice for learners. Categories include easy English-pictograms, interesting English, fun English, practical English and academic English.

5. The Reading Agency 
https://readingagency.org.uk
This is a site with tips on how to set up your own reading club and encourage reading for pleasure. There are many downloadable resources for young children, teens and adults.

6. Pernille Ripp's blog
https://pernillesripp.com/
This is an inspiring blog for those who wish to help their students develop a love for reading. It contains lots of advice and ideas for student engagement, global collaboration etc.

7. Reading Rockets
http://www.readingrockets.org/
This site has it all. Ideas and advice on teaching reading, helping struggling students, many reading topics, children's books and authors and lots of research, guides and resources.

8. Whooo is reading
https://www.whooosreading.org/
A site that promises improvement in reading comprehension through graphic organizers, differentiated activities and questions that address key reading strategies.

9. Storynory
http://www.storynory.com/
This site features a collection of original, fairytales, and classic children's stories, which students can listen to. The text is also included in the site. You can also download the story or leave a reply or comment as to whether you liked the story or not.It also contains translation of texts into different languages.

10. Readtheory
https://readtheory.org/
A free site with easy reading comprehension activities and a record of each student's progress.

Last but not least, a bonus for teachers and students, is a site for a new way of choosing your next book. You can choose from different combinations of factors to find the book that closely matches your needs. Which book http://www.openingthebook.com/whichbook/ ) has lists according to style, guest lists, or the option to create your own lists. There is also a section for children and schools called Bookflavour.

If after all these your students are not convinced about the benefits of reading, this infographic may be illustrative of them. What reading does to your brain and body:
                                               
( Source: https://ebookfriendly.com/reading-habits-successful-people-infographic/what-reading-does-to-your-brain-and-body/)
You can find more infographics that promote reading here.


REFERENCES for further reading:

1. The Practice of English Language Teaching, Jeremy Harmer, Longman, Cambridge,1991


2. The New Yorker- Books smell like old people: Do teens read seriously anymore? 
http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/books-smell-like-old-people-the-decline-of-teen-reading

3. KQED-Mindshift: Steps for cultivating a love of reading in young children
https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/03/17/how-do-you-foster-a-love-of-reading-in-young-children/



Τετάρτη, 5 Απριλίου 2017

International Happiness Day


I started the lesson with the video of the song "Happy" by Pharell Williams (feat.Minions)! The video is colourful with lyrics so pupils could sing along and get into the mood of the day easily! As a listening activity I asked them to count how many times the word "Happy" is heard. This was actually fascinating as the word is actually mentioned about 50 times in the song. After the counting had finished, I asked them how they felt listening and singing along-because they had been singing along! They said they felt happy! This is when I wrote on the board: Happy International Day of Happiness evrybody! And the fun began! This is where you can find the video:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOWDb2TBYDg


We went on with colouring the happiness colouring sheet. Students had to pick up their favourite colours and notice how they felt as they coloured in their happy word. Other students chose another worksheet in which they had to design their own T-shirt of happiness. Here you can find these sheet, together with other wonderful ideas, such as bookmarks, happiness meter, calendar, a book of happiness, a family happiness recipe, etc.:

http://www.dayofhappiness.net/pack

While colouring and designing we were listening to music. Students were able to choose songs that made them feel happy and I was writing them down, so we could compile our class happiness playlist later. You can listen to some of the songs in our playlist here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Um7pMggPnug
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdfMDJU8MxA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Kx-ke9RKww

These are some of the things we did on 20 March! The aim was to make students feel happy and relaxed and I think it was achieved!

Other Ideas




Moreover, searching further I found some other interesting  material which can be used on this day,


  • On the site makebeliefscomix.com the following printables:

-clouds for you to fill with joy
http://www.makebeliefscomix.com/Printables/print.php?category=Joy&file=415_Print.GIF

- a wonderful thought that keeps playing in your head
http://www.makebeliefscomix.com/Printables/print.php?category=Joy&file=410_Print.GIF

- a page for someone that makes you happy
http://www.makebeliefscomix.com/Printables/print.php?category=Joy&file=403_Print.GIF

- think about something that brings you happiness
 http://www.makebeliefscomix.com/Printables/print.php?category=Joy&file=401_Print.GIF


  • For more advanced levels the TED videos:


- Dan Gilbert: The surprising science of happiness
https://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy

- Graham Hill: Less stuff, more happiness
https://www.ted.com/talks/graham_hill_less_stuff_more_happiness

There is also a worksheet based on this video. You can find it here:
https://en.islcollective.com/resources/search_result?Tags=less+stuff+more+happiness&type=Printables&searchworksheet=GO


  • other worksheets on happiness on the site en.islcollective.com
       4 ESL happiness is worksheets

  • a nice lesson plan including role playing dialogues and a song on the site busyteacher.org

and many other worksheets, as well. 

  • Another nice idea would be to print some of the famous Happiness is... images and discuss them with your students and then ask them to draw their idea of Happiness is...

For the end I left some of the photos we took on this day:





*Credits to Irene Pateraki-Creative Classroom Group!
 I got inspired for the day because of her suggestion to celebrate it and some material she provided us with. This is the site she directed us to
http://www.dayofhappiness.net/#join


Πέμπτη, 11 Αυγούστου 2016

The creative use of Voki in our etwinning project 2016 "Using Web Tools 2.0 to communicate, collaborate, create"

We have used Voki with my 6th graders for our etwinning project last year, too!So you could say we had already been familiar with it and maybe-just maybe-we wouldn't find it as exciting anymore!  But, no,  this year, we have found a new way to use it, a way that made it the most exciting, entertaining and successful activity of the project. Students had a great time and Voki is still on the top of the list with their favourite web tools!
Those of you who have used Voki would know that students love making up characters and they could spend hours choosing the right eyes, nose or mouth, the appropriate background for their characters and they could go on forever experimenting with voices and  accents when they give their characters a voice to speak! This happens everytime! They are never bored because they have a large number of alternatives!
The title of the activity was "Famous people in disguise". Specifically, what they had to do was the following:

  • Students were divided in groups and they had to decide on a person from the country famous around the world. They could choose anyone they liked, an actor/actress, a singer, a politician, a writer, a composer etc.
  •  Then they had to collect information about this person and write a short text with the most striking pieces of information.For example, their profession, what made this person famous, when this happened etc.
  • Then they went on to create their characters,but they had to make them completely different from what they really looked like, because they were supposed to be disguised. Partners would guess who they were based only on the information they gave on themselves. 
  • Then they gave their characters voice so that they gave the information the students had collected about them. 
This is what some of the Voki characters looked like:


Some of the characters we have created can be found here:



http://www.voki.com/site/pickup?scid=12406315&width=575&height=323&chsm=735c4dfb59e8abdeb8e27819f8e14387

(note: unfortunately, it seems that the "embed"option which was free until a few weeks ago,  is not incuded in the free version anymore. We were able to embed our Vokis on Twinspace some months ago.)

After we had created our Vokis, schools had to listen to the information the Vokis from another school gave and guess who each person was. We listened to the information twice in class, pupils took notes and went home to search, based on the information they had extracted from the listening. Our guesses were posted on a  Padlet wall. This is what it looked like: 





It has been such an exciting activity, both the creation and the guessing! Students worked with enthusiasm and they were eager both to guess and see if others would guess their creations. All in all it was meaningful, fun and interesting.It included reading, listening and writing and it promoted both individual and collaborative work. It also involved both cultural and intercultural exchange of
information. For all these reasons,  it was voted the best activity of this year's project!

Παρασκευή, 8 Ιουλίου 2016

#30GoalsEdu Goal:Explore a Past Reflection

I have been working as an EFL teacher in the public sector for about ten years. I never really taught exactly what I had to teach-that is, the books set by the Ministry-I always liked to supplement them with materials of my own. And still that was not enough. There was constantly this feeling of inadequacy in me. I thought that to have the privilege to be around children every day and just teach them the language was not enough. I had to change something.

 I gave it a lot of thought till I decided that I wanted to teach my students the same things I teach my children. I didn't want to give them solely knowledge. I wanted to teach them values, I wanted to raise their environmental awareness, I wanted to teach them about Human Rights, about Citizenship and Digital Citizenship, about bullying and racism and stereotypes. And many more...

So a couple of years ago, I started having these "special days". A day raising awareness against bullying, a day raising awareness against racism, a day dedicated to environmental awareness, a day about how to use the Internet safely. And every year I try to add days.This year we have dedicated some time on Human Rights and Children Rights and Refugees, working on our project for Teachers4Europe 2016. We have also completed a programme with the British Council on Life Skills, and worked on themes such as citizenship, values, streotypes. Next year I am planning to add a day dedicated on HateSpeech as well.

 And I know now that you can find different ways to teach a language.One of them is to think first as an educator and then as a language teacher. This is what I have chosen to do.

This is my past reflection-about a year ago.

Raising awareness in the English classroom


Σάββατο, 2 Ιουλίου 2016

Teachers4Europe 2016, Human Rights-Refugee Rights-Solidarity: A collection of poems written for the refugees

During school year 2016, Grade 5 (E2) of the 1st Primary School of Amyntaio, Greece worked on the theme of Human Rights and Refugees Rights within the frame of our project for TEACHERS4EUROPE 2016.

At the beginning of the activity students read a poem written by a student  from Canada who won the first prize in 2010 in the first Refugees and Human Rights Child and Youth Poetry Contest, organised by the UNHCR Toronto Office and COSTI Immigrant Services in commemoration of World Refugee Day, June 20. The title of the poem is "I am". The student describes how he thinks being a refugee may feel. In spite of being only 12 years old the student uses very strong images of torture, death,slavery, war, sorrow, despair, lonelinessin the poem. We tried to discuss the meaning of the poem and the feelings it evoked. I have to admit it touched them a lot. Then the students were asked to compose their own poems based on some phrases taken from the poem such as, I am..., I am looking for..., I am hiding from..., I want..., I hope...After completing their poems they could accompany them with an illustration-this was not compulsory, but everyone did it, anyway.

The result amazed me! It is so beautiful to let children express themselves through poetry. Here is our little book of poems entiteld "I am a refugee calling out for rights".

Πέμπτη, 30 Ιουνίου 2016

PERMA or the scientific definition of happiness: Applying the PERMA model in Education



Martin E.P. Seligman, an internationally known psychologist, of the Positive Psychology movement, introduced the PERMA model of well-being (2011), in which psychological well-being is defined in terms of five elements: positive emotions (P), engagement (E), relationships (R), meaning (M), and accomplishment (A). According to Seligman having PERMA equals flourishing.  According to Peterson (2006) schools are ideal institutions to provide opportunities for these elements and they should start focusing not only on academic learning but also the promotion of character and well-being.

Let’s see what the acronym PERMA stands for and how we can link each element to our teaching:  

POSITIVE EMOTIONS (P)
Positive emotions are directly linked to happiness. Positive emotions coming from positive thinking and optimism help us feel less depressed when bad events occur and focus on the good things, make us feel better about ourselves and thus stronger and more confident, ready to face new challenges. They also  make other people like us more, since everybody likes positive people and last but not least promote better physical well-being.

How can we make our students feel positive?

Create a positive school/classroom climate. It all depends on building real bonds with our students. It all starts with trust. Care for our students and let them know we care. Show them they are respected. Give them chances to play, create, express themselves. Have a shared vision and work together to realize it! And don’t forget, happy students learn better! We tend to remember more things when we learn them in a happy atmosphere.

ENGAGEMENT (E)
Being completely absorbed in an activity and enjoying the process of it (also known as flow, a term introduced by M. Csikszentmihályi)is something we all wish to experience as often as possible in our lives. It is also something we all wish for our students. It’s when the bell rings and they go “How has time flown?”  It means they were so engaged in an activity, that they don’t even want to have a break! This is the ideal situation for all teachers and causes feelings of achievement for everyone, the  students and the teacher.

“In education, student engagement refers to the degree of attention, curiosity, interest, optimism, and passion that students show when they are learning or being taught, which extends to the level of motivation they have to learn and progress in their education. Generally speaking, the concept of “student engagement” is predicated on the belief that learning improves when students are inquisitive, interested, or inspired, and that learning tends to suffer when students are bored, dispassionate, disaffected, or otherwise “disengaged.” Stronger student engagement or improved student engagement are common instructional objectives expressed by educators.”   (The Glossary of Educational Reform)

How can we engage our students?

Here are some ideas.
14 Classroom Activities That Increase Student Engagement

RELATIONSHIPS (R)
Relationships are one of the most important aspects of our lives. We are all happy when we build positive relationships with our parents, friends, and teachers. We recognize the importance of other people in our lives and try to be liked by others and connect with the ones we like.

How can we build strong relationships in class?

Building strong relationships in class not only between the teacher and the students but also among the students themselves is a key element for success.  Authenticity of feelings, respect and co-operation promote good relationships. Taking responsibilities and having rights. Conflict resolution within class and by the students themselves. Teach our students to be tolerant, accept diversity and be empathetic.

Here are some tips:
Strategies for Teachers to Develop Positive Relationships with Students



MEANING (M)
Anything that gives meaning to our lives is important. It can be offering help to those in need, volunteering, participating in activities that go beyond just living for oneself. It can be religion or anything that brings fulfillment and the sense of a meaningful life.

Here is an interesting How to…

How can we teach meaning to our students?

The best way is to set an example. As James Baldwin has put it “Children have never been good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” Involve students in charities, volunteering, international organisations supporting a cause and also programmes and projects which promote values and a deeper meaning in life.

ACCOMPLISHMENT (A)
Having goals and working our way to them is what gives a purpose in life. Accomplishment builds our self-esteem and the way others see us. Even the effort we put in order to achieve something brings satisfaction. Even if we don’t succeed from the beginning we know how to try again.  Life would be useless if we didn’t set goals and tried for the better. Even small, everyday achievements give us pleasure and keep us going.

How can we help our students accomplish things?

We should first teach them how to set goals. We should always start our lesson with making our aims or objectives clear-even write them in a corner of the board for students to have a sense of progress and achievement by the end of the lesson. Then we can ask: “Have we achieved our aims/objectives?”, “How have we done so?”, to also make them aware of the process we followed , “What can we do to improve in what we have learnt so far?”, to make them think that everything we achieve needs further effort to keep. This way they can connect accomplishment to clear goal setting followed by a process that requires effort.


It is more than obvious that we are no longer just teachers who teach their subject-that is the foreign language. In a world that changes and knowledge can be gained easily, the teacher is no longer the only source of knowledge, as used to be the case. Students can get as much information as they want in a snap of a finger. We are above all educators and it is absolutely essential to teach our students other things as well. Teach them skills, teach them values, teach them happiness! This is what the times call for and this is something we should all commit ourselves to.

REFERENCES
1. Seligman, M. E. P. (2011). Flourish. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
2. Peterson, C. (2006). A primer in positive psychology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
3. Csíkszentmihályi, Mihály (1990), Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, New York: Harper and Row

 Online References

  •   How to find meaning in Life
  •  FLOW

  •   Flow: the secret to happiness