Sunday, 11 December 2011

How to overcome the Lonely Teacher Blues

Image by @ij64 on ELTPics;

Teaching is, often, a lonely job. If you're lucky, you get to talk about your problems, exchange ideas, or periodically receive some level of motivation in the staff room. Most of the time, however, you get thrown in the deep end, with only a marker and the coursebook to clutch.

Some seek to fight this problem by attending conferences, and others do courses, but these tend to be costly, and teaching is not noted for a generous pay scale. So, unless some form of backing is available, most of us can't do either of those.

However, the situation has improved tremendously in the past decade or so. As Barbara Sakamoto said in my interview with her, "Get online!" There's a bewildering amount of information and resources available on the Internet, so much so that one can easily get lost. If you're reading this, you're probably among those who are already fairly knowledgeable about the world of blogging, Twitter, and webinars. It is our duty, then, to enlighten the uninitiated.

If you want to know which blogs to read, a good place to start is my recommended blogs list. This list is, naturally, constantly updated. Twitter is an incredible world, but I'd probably need a few hours to explain its ins and outs - why don't you get your school to call me and I could give a talk? ;-) Alternatively, read the articles which I've scooped here.

If you're interested in personal professional development, follow my scoops here, and if you're in need of some motivation, why don't you check out some of the teachers here.

As for webinars... these are getting more and more popular, and it's easy to see why. Most of them are FREE, and you can attend them from the comforts of your own home. Don't you know what webinars are? They are basically online conferences. To attend them, you are sometimes required to register. You will be given a url (the address of a web page) to go to. When you enter this page, you'll be asked to download a small Java file. Follow the instructions from there and before you could get comfortable, you'd be 'apparated' (to borrow a word from J K Rowlings) to the conference room!

Talking of webinars, next Saturday, 17th December is a very special day. Two free webinars are taking place, practically one after another; here's a terrific chance to experience first hand what many other teachers around the world are doing!

iTDi (International Teacher Development Institute) will be running, very shortly, online courses, designed by teachers, for teachers. Their free webinar has already attracted 300 teachers from 57 countries, but they are still accepting people for their waiting list, so don't wait any longer. It's free, isn't it? The webinar is titled "What is a teacher?" For the full line-up of internationally-acclaimed presenters, schedule and registration, go to:
It runs from 09:00 to 13:00 UTC.

Right after that, from 14:00 CET onwards, TeachMeet International start their own exciting event. This promises to be a truly dynamic affair, each presenter being given 3 minutes of "floor" time. Don't miss that either!

For those who are not able to attend either of these conferences, there is a good possibility that the recordings will be made available, but you'd need to be in touch with "us" to know where and when they are released!



  1. Well, this is weird... it could be a coincidence, but I wrote this About section of my blog a year and a half ago and it very much reminds me of your post... >

    What do you think?

  2. Thanks for the comment, Marian. However, I can assure you that I've only read the About section once, and that's a second ago, after having followed your link.
    In any case, although the basic thought is similar, I don't see many other similarities. And if that thought is similar, it goes to show that it's a common teacher 'problem' and I'm sure millions of teachers have the same blues.

  3. Incidentally, I'd spent the whole day thinking of the post, the slow writer that I am.

  4. Maria Markaki School11 December 2011 at 20:43

    See you in the iTDi webinar, Chiew! You are one of the people who drives melancholy away! I am sure lots of others will agree! :-)

  5. Maria Markaki School11 December 2011 at 20:44

    Oops, I was hoping to sign in with my Blogger ID! I am Christina Markoulaki, anyways, in case you got curious!

  6. I'm afraid that my insecurity got the better of me, Chiew - I commented without allowing myself the time for thinking it through and for considering all implications of my words before clicking the "post" button.

    I should have allowed myself more thinking time before commenting - exactly as you did, when you were writing your post.

    As I said on Twitter - while we share common starting point, the feeling of being alone in our profession, you take the all-important next step and develop the ways of dealing with these feelings and overcoming them.

    Thank you for a wonderful post and patience, with which you dealt with my implied accusation.

    It's wonderful to see we share more than just professions.

  7. Hi Chiew!

    A great subject you have touched upon. In fact, last year, when I congratulated a fantastic speaker via e-mail, he said that a common theme teachers talk to him about is that, being lonely at times. But how right you are! How important networking is, how important webinars and online conferences are! And how fortunate we are, for on Saturday we have not one, but TWO online PD opportunities!!!

    Beautiful post that makes us all feel much better and connected - reminds us all: we are not alone!

    Thanks so much Chiew,

  8. That's all right, Marian. It's difficult for us at the best of times. We write & share for love and some respect, and it hurts when people use your stuff without crediting you. So, I can understand how you'd feel if you thought I'd ripped the idea off you. But like I said it before, I hadn't read your post before.

    Scott dealt with the idea of 'stealing' ideas wonderfully in O for Ownership:

  9. Thanks Maria...or is it Christina? ;-)
    I look forward to 'seeing' you again on Saturday!

  10. Thanks, Vicky :)
    I certainly don't feel alone with you around! :)

  11. Hi Chiew, Great post - as usual. Succinct and to the point. I find myself going to conferences to tell teachers not to go to conferences unless they go for the physical company of other teachers (which IS an important and useful reason for doing so). I have only recently started using and love it, now I'm following both of your scoops, they are really useful and interesting. Thanks again.

  12. Thanks for your comment, Tamas! Conferences take a whole new meaning meeting members of our PLN, don't they? Unfortunately, I fall into the category of those not being able to afford... hehe.

  13. Hi Chiew

    Great post and so true. I am fortunate that I have great colleagues with whom I cooperate well but when I enter the classroom it is indeed just me and the students. For me the loneliness comes mainly in he form of insecurity: was it a good lesson, shouldn't I have done something else, in a different way? etc etc

    'Getting online' has really made a difference! I could never have thought the support of all of you could be so strong, also in difficult moments. I can only recommend that to every teacher.
    Thank you for the many useful links in this post, which has been forwarded to my non-tweeting colleagues:-) .

    I really look forward to the iTDi webinar next Saturday and to your future blog post and interviews!

    All the best


  14. Thanks for your comment, Mieke. You are, indeed, lucky to have supportive colleagues, and you are right, of course, about insecurity, but even the most experienced and positive among us get those insecure moments, those moments when we doubt ourselves, when we doubt our strategy or methodology, or when we couldn't answer questions whose answers we were expected to know...
    Just a few kind words from a peer can do wonders, can't they?

  15. See you online next week, Chiew. And let's chat on Skype very soon.

  16. The CLIL Forum Rubio15 December 2011 at 19:00

    Great post on a key teaching topic. I totally agree about the importance of online seminars and social networks when it comes to sharing experiences and go further in our professional development as teachers. I took a look at the sites that you link and they are a great source of resources. These posts help to build up community. Thank you :)

  17. Thanks for the visit and the comment!


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