Only ten???

Adam Simpson is the one to blame for this post. He started a twitter challenge: Ten People I Follow on Twitter and Why. People who follow me on twitter (@cecilialcoelho)/ regularly read my blog know I have very little willpower when it comes to declining challenges ( if you’re interested on previous challenges you can read The Day Nothing Became Everything – my guest post on Ceri Jones’ blog – or What Comes Out of Unsuspecting Students + Wandrous Board Challenge  not to mention all my responses to Karenne Sylvester’s Dogme Blog Challenge). And as Adam says in his own post, the intention here is to promote a bit of ELT appreciation.

I follow so many fantastic people that choosing only ten people was really hard. But Adam said ten was the number – and I abide by the rules. Each of the people I listed has a special reason for being in it, and I hope I am able to clearly express that on the justification. Some people here are recurrent from both Adam’s list and Dave Dodgson’s (another tweep who’s taken up the challenge), so bear with me 🙂 I guess this means they’re just so great they’re on many people’s top 10. So, with no further ado, here are my ten people (and why I follow them) in alphabetical order:

  • Ceri Jones (@cerirhiannon) : Ceri is a teacher in Cádiz, Spain. She is very committed to teaching and shares a lot of the great things she does in her classes on her blog Close Up  (lots of ideas there!). She’s also the one who gave me the final push to start my own blog after opening her own blog for a guest post so that I could tell the result of my taking up my first challenge . Add to that a person who I greatly identify with, who teaches me Welsh (ddiolch ‘ch cariad!), who I have wonderful fun (and serious) conversations with, who tweets during conferences she attends so we can follow from a distance and is always so supportive… One of my very favorite people twitter has brought into my life and who I’ll (hopefully) meet face to face at IATEFL next year, in Brighton.

  • David Dodgson (@DaveDodgson): No, this is not payback (because you added me to your list Dave). Dave is the most recent tweep in the list. He’s an Englishman in Ankara, Turkey, teaching English to 4th graders. But after a few twitter conversations and comments on each other’s and other people’s blogs  we discovered we had a lot in common – as far as values, practices and beliefs related to teaching and life. We did a joint response to a Dogme Blog Challenge, where we shared our voices – literally . This joint venture (where he taught me a new tool) not only turned out great but more importantly was great fun to do. He’s such a committed teacher he did research about Recife – where I live – prior to our conversation, so he could mention pubs we have here. Dave has great insights and ideas, is very participative in both the twitterverse and the blogosphere. And he has promised to come with his family to Brazil and share a Devassa (great beer) with Rick and I. Just for the record… I’ll take a blond one 😉

  • Henrick Oprea (@hoprea): Only after joining Twitter and following Rick (after being introduced to his fantastic blog Doing Some Thinking) I discovered we had recently been in the same ELT Conference last July in São Paulo (Braz-Tesol National Conference). On the cover of Braz-Tesol’s Newsletter’s last issue there’s a big photo taken on the final plenary – and we’re both there! How crazy is that? We live in the same country, are members of the same organization (Braz-Tesol), spent 4 days in the same school and only met each other through Twitter. Rick is an EFL teacher in Brasília, capital of Brazil. He has a lot of knowledge on ELT, its theories, practices… I’ve learned a lot by discussing teaching with Rick, participating in #ELTChats where he also took part, and sometimes just lurking on his discussions with other tweeps. He’s also fun, eager to share and a great guy all around. And we’ll get together some time to show Dave Dodgson around Brazil 😉

  • Jason Renshaw (@englishraven): Jason is a must follow to anyone involved in ELT who likes to reflect upon his/her own practices. Jason lives in Geelong, Australia and mostly teaches online, but has recently gone back to the classroom. He has the most fantastic, thought-provoking blog : English Raven, read by everyone on twitter (one of the first I ever felt comfortable with commenting on). He is sharp and absolutely open and honest. He’s always proposing challenges for us teachers, challenges that he not only creates but also takes up and sets the example. He’s extremely creative and is always questioning his own practices. He’s also one of the most efficient bloggers I know (a talent I greatly envy), devoted father to 2 beautiful kids. His tweets are great, and he was the biggest support for me to increase my participation on twitter, making me feel and see I had something to contribute with. And he (along with Ceri) motivated and pushed me to start blogging. His posts and challenges have made me reflect upon my teaching a lot, experiment with new things and develop.

  • Jeremy Harmer (@harmerj): I believe anybody who’s in ELT has come across Jeremy – be it by reading one of his books or by attending one of his fabulous workshops or talks. I had the pleasure of meeting Jeremy in this year’s Braz-Tesol Conference in São Paulo – the same I didn’t meet Rick at. And I discovered he’s not only a great ELT trainer, author and presenter. He’s a great person too, and a music lover. He was the one who “took my hand” and showed me the power of Twitter for teacher’s professional development, he told me what a PLN is and told me who to start following. So deep down, Jeremy is the one to blame for my being here 🙂 His tweets during the many conferences he attends are great, as well as his blog – which was recently home to one of the most interesting discussions about dogme, with over 200 comments.

  • Lindsay Clandfield (@lclandfield): Lindsay has one of the most interesting, fun and insightful blogs I subscribe to: Six Things. I have recently discovered (through his latest post) that it was a project and that he’ll soon stop posting in it, but considering that I’m new at the blogosphere I reckon there are still plenty of great posts in it I haven’t read yet. I think it will be a big loss to the blogosphere, but he has his reasons for ending the project. He is an ELT teacher and author (recently won the ESU Awards for his “Global” ). With his tweets I have learned, found great resources or just had a good laugh. 🙂

  • Luke Meddings (@LukeMeddings): Luke co-authored Teaching Unplugged (with Scott Thornbury – @thornburyscott), the first book to discuss Dogme and has recently started a new blog: The Unplugged Index. It’s already in my blog roll 🙂 Luke is active on twitter, always sharing good resources and he’s also really participative in the Dogme discussions. Moreover, Luke is a really cool guy, accessible, a great guy to add to anyone’s PLN. And a insomniac like me 😉

  • Shelly Terrell (@ShellTerrell): Shelly has got to be the most passionate, committed teacher I’ve ever come across. She tweets the best sources, tools, articles… She created “The 30 Goals Challenge” , works at Parentella, TheConsultantsE and has an inspiring blog: Teacher Reboot Camp. She’s also a moderator at #edchat and #eltchat, always willing to help, retweet, support any teacher or cause she can, and always involved in initiatives to improve education in the world. On a personal note, she a real sweetheart and has the cutest dog ever (Rosco)! I was lucky to Skype with Shelly for an #ELTChat podcast and it just proved to me that live (as live as we can get since she lives in Germany and I in Brazil) she’s just the same sunny person she is on twitter. A must follow for educators in general.

  • Sue Lyon-Jones (@esolcourses): Sue is multitasking as well.  She lives and teaches in the UK. She also has a website filled with activities for teachers to use in their classes and a great blog: The PLN Staff Lounge (her latest post where she responded to Dogme Blog Challenges 1, 3, 4 & 5 at once is wonderful, I recommend it!). She’s always sharing great resources, tools and anything she finds worthy. I always enjoy her participation in the #ELTChat, and have learned a lot from her as well. And we’ve had some great convos over twitter as well. And she had the scariest, coolest twitter avatar during Halloween 😉

Thanks to Dave Dodgson for teaching me and helping me to finally put this word cloud here!

What about you? Feel like taking up Adam’s challenge? I’d love to discover more incredible people to follow!

Here are some other posts  from people who joined the (impossible) challenge of picking 10 people from an amazing PLN:

• Dave Dodgson’s Ten People I Follow and Why

• Mike Harrison’s Ten Twitterers to Tweet


My First Post

After much thought on what to write on my first post of my blog… I came out with nothing. So I decided to write about what made me take the step and start writing. For people to understand me better, maybe it would be nice to give you a little background information.

I’ve been an EFL teacher in Recife (where I was born and raised) since 1993. At first I didn’t think I wanted to be an English teacher forever. I have a BA in graphic design and teaching English, up to a couple of years after I got my degree, was something I really enjoyed but that I did on the side (on Saturdays to be specific) while I got through school and later worked at an advertising agency. But one day I had to choose between teaching and design – and I couldn’t leave teaching, because it was what I really loved doing. I taught at the university for a couple of years, the history-related subjects of design. But something was missing…it was not only teaching that I enjoyed – it was teaching ENGLISH. And then I really threw myself into it and committed to it.

I love teaching and I always put a lot of dedication and effort into it. But lately I had been feeling unmotivated. Stuck in time. Feeling as if I kept doing the same things, reading the same texts, listening to the same ideas. Any teacher needs to feel like she (or he) is constantly evolving, changing, questioning. And I missed that. It got to a point where I started questioning whether I shouldn’t think about switching careers. THAT is how desperate I was. Until… I discovered Twitter.

Now, don’t think I hadn’t heard of twitter before. I had. I even had signed in already. But I only followed a couple of friends and while it was fun, I didn’t see how it could be a source of profesional development. But during the Braz-Tesol conference in São Paulo last July I discovered a new side to Twitter. I met Jeremy Harmer who knows what Twitter can do for a teacher, and started following him. He encouraged me and told me of some educators I should follow. And as I started reading those people’s tweets I discovered more interesting people, engaging discussions about teaching and ELT. I was introduced to the wonderful world of blogs written by educators. I was given links to great articles, activities… And most of all I met so many inspiring teachers from all over the world.

Being presented to this new world turned my world around. It was a breath of fresh air, new life, new energy. I know everybody says that, but that’s because it is true, and I can think of no better way to put it. I have read more about teaching and English than I can remember ever doing. I have learned, reflected upon my practice, upon my beliefs. I’ve learned about so many great tools available to help us teach better. I’ve made new friends, who share my enthusiasm and interest in teaching. I learned what a PLN was and started building one.  And most importantly, I have shared. I believe sharing is such an innate characteristic of teachers, we just can’t control it. And the sharing among educators on Twitter and the blogs is unbelievable. Powerful. Enpowering. Now all I can think about is “How hadn’t I heard of this before?”. Was I the only one who didn’t know what a PLN was? How many teachers all over the world haven’t heard about this? And after asking myself these questions I’ve made it my mission to help spread the word and get more teachers aboard. After all, I can’t refrain from sharing, right?

So, my first blog post is actually a big THANK YOU to my PLN, my new friends. Thank you for helping me, encouraging me (thanks @cerirhiannon!), challenging me (this one is for @englishraven!), sharing with me, teaching me… or just having some much needed fun. May everyone who hasn’t discovered the world of Twitter and the blogosphere be as lucky to have such a great PLN. 🙂