How I won the TeachingEnglish (British Council) Best Blog Post Award for May

A time to celebrate, reflect, express gratitude and share insights.

I was thrilled to be nominated for ‘Best Blog of the Month’ for May, and very surprised to see how fast my article was shared around Facebook. I’m very grateful to The British Council for their recognition of my contributions, and to my global colleagues for their appreciation and support.

I want to share my thoughts so as to encourage other teachers and writers, who are publishing online. I also want to encourage people to do what they love.

What does the award mean to the ELT community?

Many teachers selflessly blog, create YouTube videos and give away free lesson plans online. Online teachers, in particular, do this as a matter of course. Apart from the fact that we are establishing an online presence or digital footprint, this kind of creative sharing is very rewarding as it deepens professional development, and enriches the global ELT community. This spirit helps freelance teachers to stay motivated as no one wants to work in an anonymous vacuum.

I think that educational awards were created to allow the kinds of celebration or peer evaluation that used to happen in smaller scales offline. We are all enriched by this. I have learnt a lot from other bloggers and there is much daily excitement on the TeachingEnglish/British Council page on Facebook because we all love to go there and learn from innovative teachers around the world.

As a global community of teachers, it’s good that we give recognition to each other other for passion, effort, inspiration and hard work. When someone is recognized for an achievement we can learn from what they have done and then become passionate about our own unique skill sets.

Here is an appropriate quote from David Ddeubelbeiss in his book the Zen Act of Teaching.

“ Do not look at your colleagues and think ‘what a poor teacher am I’. Look at yourself and think ‘what a better teacher I can become’.

The only competition is with what you could potentially become, given your own inner qualities. These qualities do not match any other teacher’s. They are your own and unique. Treasure them, and let them grow without the noise of competition.”

I’ve read many books and this is my favorite educational quote. If we can impart this concept to our students as David has imparted it to us, our classes will be full of happy little campers (children, teens or adults).

When I write, there is no noise in my head. I am not competing. I am expressing my personal insights into the teaching or learning experience. My article about ‘ 10 Online Tools to Master Language Teaching ’ was really the fruit of three years hard work, experimentation, perseverance and lofty dreams. I also put myself completely into the task and shared everything. There was no holding back on ‘premium’ information.

That doesn’t mean it took me three years to write it 😉 . It does mean, however, that the links and ideas were projects and thoughts created over the course of three years – the foundation of which was my 15 years teaching experience prior to that.

Judging by the feedback I received from the British Council and my peers, this recognition is really for sharing ideas. That’s because anyone can read the article and adopt, adapt or expand upon these umbrellas of ideas, and create many, many, more projects from these. Creativity is endless. Inspiration is fed by appreciation of our peers and what they share with us.

There is no magic or luck as an objective reality. But there is magic in loving what you do, and then creating your own luck by default. If you love the process you won’t ‘need’ awards. When you don’t feel desperate for recognition, reward will come your way. If you love what you do, that’s everything.

Where does the dream begin?

Despite the fact that I was a bookworm as a child and that my favorite school activity was writing essays, and despite the fact that I studied English Literature in university, I never really wrote anything professionally (apart from with private students) till I went online.

In my early career, I felt that the publishing market was for the elite, and I basically lacked the confidence and drive to persevere against that elitist ‘reality’. I grew up in the eighties in Ireland, where unemployment was at an all-time high. In my first lecture for teacher training for the Higher Diploma in Education, our professor predicted that upon graduation most of the 300 students sitting there in the lecture hall would not find a job upon graduation.

Despite having talent and a great education, I decided that writing was out of my reach. That was a very negative way to think, though. This negative mindset was probably inherited from the bleak times of the eighties and early nineties, though not from my parents who always encouraged our talents. Also, in those days, optimism meant getting an education and finding a job, few people dreamed higher than that. Entrepreneurship wasn’t entertained as an idea in school or at home.

 

When I got older and wiser I thankfully threw away that harmful security blanket and became much more positive in outlook. By then, of course, I had a preschool child and three babies to take care of. I was now in a poorer country with tiny mouths to feed. My family challenges ( and there were many) served to make me stronger and more determined. With each success the dream got bigger. This time my dreams led me to online teaching, blogging and self-publishing. Is it any wonder that I love technology?

I hope that this is helpful to other teachers in poor countries who have limited resources.

No matter where you are, there is no limit to talent or passion.

Here are two concepts to keep in mind.

“Give every person more in use value than you take from him in cash value”
(That’s what bloggers do)

“You must get rid of the thought of competition. You are to create, not to compete for what is already created.” (W.Wattles)

(That’s also what bloggers, writers, passionate teachers and Edupreneurs do.)

I’d like to say that The British Council is doing much to bridge the gap between severe academia and inspiring edutainment. The British Council websites are full of creative, artistic ideas, which goes to show that learning can be fun while students are building up language skills to ensure success, including exam success. This is also obvious when we see the kinds of blogs and articles that are being recognised by the British Council and ELT in general. The future looks bright in this respect.

As for educational blogging and publishing I’d like to mention two initiatives leading the way for the rest of us. Learn Out Live and ELT Teacher 2 writer.

Finally, I’d like to relate the awards to how we view competition in the classroom. Just as there is great, positive excitement generated on the Teaching English/British Council page on facebook, we can generate excitement amongst students without allowing it to be ‘competitive’ in the narrow sense of the word. I think we should encourage them to compete against themselves and their previous successes – and then celebrate each others’ success without feeling that there are winners or losers. That’s brain-friendly fun, community-building excellence, and training for success in later life!!


is an online English teacher, writer and blogger who facilitates professional development online. She uses brain-friendly techniques to help students and teachers around the world. She designs educational materials, develops courses, writes resource papers and publishes ebooks. Her work is the result of much research into the psychology of learning, as well as hands-on experience with multi-media technology.

Comments

  1. David Bradshaw Says: June 23, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Thanks for this post, Sylvia. A lot of what you say resonates with my own experience and ideas, particularly the idea that writing was for the elite., which is something I have thankfully laid to rest since I started blogging a few months ago.
    Congratulations on your award, and I look forward to reading more from you in the future.

  2. David Bradshaw Says: June 23, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Thanks for this post, Sylvia. A lot of what you say resonates with my own experience and ideas, particularly the idea that writing was for the elite., which is something I have thankfully laid to rest since I started blogging a few months ago.
    Congratulations on your award, and I look forward to reading more from you in the future.

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