Oct 18

Six Reasons Why You Cannot Be A Bad Teacher

Year 2011. And it is almost impossible to be a bad teacher.


If you are a teacher who is passionate about teaching and who considers continuous professional development as an important aspect of your career, the opportunities to become a good teacher are ENDLESS.

I am not going to share with you a long list because I find long lists overwhelming and confusing.

Here are my six reasons why you cannot be a bad teacher. In other words, learning opportunities for enthusiastic teachers:)

1. Twitter

It is a global staffroom with endless learning and sharing opportunities. After you sign up and before starting to think desperately what to do next, go to We Follow, search for educators on Twitter and start following them. You can search with keywords like elt, esl, efl or tefl. If you think you need some guidance, you can join the aPLaNet Project. It is a European Union funded project which aims to help language educators become autonomous members of online social networks.

A great way to understand how Twitter works and how wonderful it is to be in a global staffroom, you can join the #ELTChat discussion sessions that take place every Wednesday at 12:00 p.m. GMT and 21:00 p.m. GMT. ELT teachers from all around the world log into their Twitter accounts and for one hour they discuss on a topic they have selected. Read more about the #ELTChat.

2. Nings

Ning is an online platform for people and organizations to create custom social networks. (Source: Wikipedia)

When you join a Ning that is created for educators, you have the opportunity to join discussions, share articles, videos and photos.

Here are four Nings which you can become a member of and start interacting with likeminded colleagues:

EFL Classroom 2.0

The Educator’s PLN

Teacher 2.0

aPLaNet – Autonomous ‘Personal Learning Networks’ for Language Teachers

3. Facebook Groups & Pages

Through Facebook Groups and Pages, you can stay more connected with educators from all around the world. (Click here to read about the difference between Facebook Groups and Pages.)

Here are some Groups and Pages you should check out:

#ELTChat (Group)

EU Educators (Group)

aPLaNet – Autonomous ‘Personal Learning Networks’ for Language Teachers (Page)

Teaching English – British Council (Page)

4. Blogs

There are so many wonderful educator blogs in the blogosphere. Once you start following some of them, you will see that they support each other by giving links to other educators’ blogs and that’s how you will discover other great blogs.

As a beginning, check out these blogs, and their blogrolls* as well:

Teacher Reboot Camp

TEFL Matters

Teaching Village

Reflections of a Teacher and Learner

Box of Chocolates

OUP ELT Global Blog

*Blogroll: A blogroll is a list of links to blogs that the blogger likes. A blogroll is usually included in the blog’s sidebar.

5. Online Workshops & Conferences


IATEFL Online Project has been providing online coverage of the IATEFL Conference for five years. The next IATEFL Conference is taking place in Glasgow on 19-23 March 2012 and I’m sure the IATEFL Online Team will do a wonderful job again and take the conference to teachers who are not able to attend in person.

Virtual Round Table Conference (20-22 April, 2012)

The Virtual Round Table Conference is a 3-day online conference. So far more than 2000 participants and 180 guest speakers have participated in the conference. It is great that all the sessions are recorded and can be found on the Virtual Round Table (VRT) Ning. You can join the Ning at http://www.virtual-round-table.com/.

The Macmillan Online Conference (8-9 November, 2011)

Macmillan is organizing its first online conference. It is a 2-day event with a very good line up of speakers. You can see the program here.

The Electronic Village Online (EVO)

EVO is a set of online discussions and workshops that takes place every year from mid-January to mid-February. Sessions include a range from simple discussions to virtual hands-on workshops. Registrations start on January 2, 2012 and being a TESOL member is not required to register.

6. Webinars

The term webinar is short for Web-based Seminar, a presentation, lecture, workshop or seminar that is transmitted over the Web, specifically a portmanteau of web & seminar, to describe a specific type of web conference. (Source: Wikipedia)

You can check out TeachingEnglish | British Council | BBC, Macmillan and PearsonELT webinars that offer good quality content on a regular basis.

Teaching English Webinars

Macmillan Interactive Webinars

PearsonELT Webinars

It is great that everything I have shared with you here is free and you don’t need any special computer skills to get started. All you need is enthusiasm and some time!:)

Let me finish with a quote…

“Enthusiasm is excitement with inspiration, motivation, and a pinch of creativity.” Bo Bennett



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  1. Brad Patterson

    I love the logic flip of this post— that you cannot be a bad teacher if you’re passionate, and if you’re passionate, pour some energy into these great online communities, and you’ll only become a better teacher.

    Nice to see you back blogging and I like the new look ! Cheers, Brad

    1. burcuakyol

      Thank you Brad! Good to be back:) It was the lack of time that took some of my ‘enthusiasm’ away;) Hope to be able to write regularly.



  2. Adam

    Glad to see you blogging again, Burcu. You hooked me with the title of the post, but I was also nicely surprised by the angle you’ve taken.

    Interestingly, I’m doing a conference presentation – tomorrow, aaaggghghh – on what students perceive a good teacher to be. This will be the subject of my next blog post. I’m happy to say that students really value passion and development as important teacher traits, too.

    Please drop by my place in a few days to see what else students value in their teachers.

    1. burcuakyol

      Well, how our students see us is actually more important than our own perceptions about ourselves, right?

      Looking forward to reading it Adam!



  3. OUP ELT Global

    Thanks for the mention in the Blogs section, Burcu. Can we make one more shameless plug? OUP now run ELT webinars as well. The full list is available at http://oxford.ly/ELTevents.

    Thanks! (and sorry!)

    1. burcuakyol

      Thanks for sharing that:) I hope I can attend the “Translation in language teaching and learning” session.



  4. David Warr

    Same as the others, and love the birdies!

    1. burcuakyol

      The birdies also remind me of Twitter:))

      Thanks, David! :)


  5. Janet Bianchini

    Fab post Burcu and love the new design of your blog! Lots of lovely links and resources for teachers to delve into and explore. Thank you so much for sharing your enthusiasm with us all! Enthusiasm is indeed infectious, and that helps to make things change for the better.

    Warm wishes


    1. burcuakyol

      Thank you Janet. I agree with you that enthusiasm is infectious, that’s why being in a global staffroom is great!



  6. Torn Halves

    Burcu, it’s nice to see your post and the positive comments, and I do agree that the design of your blog is lovely, but in an impish sort of way I want to disagree. Of course lots of people who get into teaching with passion and an interest in getting on in their chosen career are going to be fantastic teachers. Passion and ambition, though, guarantee nothing. Have you never met anyone who really wanted to be a good teacher, but who just couldn’t make it? And if they can’t hold their own in the classroom – if they are starting to think they need a few stiff whiskies or another Prozac before heading to the school – no amount of tweeting or ninging is going to help. In my experience, beyond passion and ambition, there are certain psychological preconditions that someone needs to meet before they stand a chance of becoming a good teacher. Sometimes I see frail, bookish girls who doodle a lot in the margins of their notebooks, and through the long hair half-obscuring their eyes they tell me they want to become a teacher, and I try to gently suggest other career ideas like horticulture or handicrafts.

    1. burcuakyol

      Hi Torn,

      Thank you for the comment. Do you think a teacher who works with a difficult class can turn negative situations into learning opportunities rather than bowing to his faith and starting to take Prozac before going into the class?

      Of course I’m not talking about extreme cases that are impossible to cope with, like violence in a teenagers’ classroom. In such a case, I would probably put the curriculum aside and seek for solutions until I can continue teaching in a safe classroom.

      But I agree with you that teachers should have certain character traits as well as positive beliefs and attitudes. And passion and ambition are two characteristics that are essential to success in teaching:)


      1. Torn Halves

        Yes, you are right. Good teachers CAN turn apparently negative classroom situations into opportunities and rise to the challenge. I was only making the obvious point that a few of us are just not that good.

        1. Ken Wilson

          Oh dear, Mr Halves – what a dreadful thing to write –

          ‘Sometimes I see frail, bookish girls who doodle a lot in the margins of their notebooks, and through the long hair half-obscuring their eyes they tell me they want to become a teacher.’

          Was it really necessary to use this image as a template for someone who may not make a success as a teacher? Are there no frail, bookish long-haired BOYS with the same problem? This sexist, old-fashioned chauvinism undermines the more important point you make about how teaching can be – or become – an unsettling and alarming occupation.

          Thankfully, the welcome side-effect of the factors Burcu lists in this blog is that in the modern connected world, teachers of all subjects and of all dispositions can feel more part of a community than they ever did before. Some of the fears that send teachers in the direction of Prozac or whisky can be diluted when shared.

          The biggest advantage of modern tech is the connectivity it provides, and the potential for sympathetic understanding and advice from your peers.

          1. Torn Halves

            Mr Wilson, I always think long and hard before writing anything which breaks the rules of political correctness. I do many mock interviews with students and in every interview I ask them what their ambitions are. Now, although the sample size remains small relative to the total population, and the sample is only drawn from one country – Greece – with children who share a narrow cultural background (still decidedly patriarchal). In that small sample it is predominantly the girls who have told me they want to become teachers, which correlates well with the fact that the teachers in Greece are overwhelmingly female (especially the foreign language teachers).

            Some of those girls will become the sort of great teachers Burcu is talking about. A few others (a small minority) say they want to become teachers (I think) because they have a good relationship with one or more teachers and because they have come to see their favourite subject as a kind of refuge from a world which is just a bit too brutal. My guess is that they don’t always have a fantastic time at school socially. They like some of the lessons and get top marks, but break times can be a nightmare.

            I was once one of those girls. And I know from experience that that kind of background and that kind of psychology don’t provide a good basis for a successful career in teaching. And things like Facebook can end up being seen as another refuge, instead of the sort of springboard to further professional development that Burcu is describing.

            P.s. One thing that helps us girls cope is our sense of humour – especially our ability to laugh at ourselves. The intention, Mr Wilson, was to include a dash of that humour in the comment that you so humourlessly trashed.

            Thanks for the connectivity.

  7. Gökçe ARSLAN

    Thanks a lot for sharing these links. I’ve realized I did not know lots of them and forgot to check the ones I know. Thank you for reminding me to be enthusiastic again.

    Best wishes,

    1. burcuakyol

      You’re very welcome. I’m glad you found the post useful.



  8. Josette

    Hello Burcu!

    Thank you so much for the clear and helpful information. You have really changed my perception of blogging and tweeting. I’ve been blogging for two years, and realized I’ve been using social networking at a minimum. I thought I was doing okay, but when I started following the links you provided, I realized I was missing out on a lot of other options. I’m starting to get the hang of Twitter, and loving it! I’m embarking on whole new journey!

    Again, thank you so much!

    See you in the blogosphere, on Twitter, and on Facebook!

    PS. love your blog header! Very creative. Did you design it?

    1. burcuakyol

      Hello Josette,

      Thanks so much for your positive comment which made me very happy:) I loved the name and the concept of your blog by the way, and would love to add it to my blogroll. A good reason to update it and add some new blogs as well:)

      Re my blog header, a friend of mine who knows me well designed it:)

      Look forward to meeting you in the global staffroom:)


      1. Josette

        Hello Burcu,

        So kind of you to add me to your blogroll. I’ll be doing the same!

        And thank you for the compliments about my blog :) Isn’t spreading happiness fun? :)

        See you!


  9. Kurtis Hewson

    Great post Burcu – great post! I’m actually doing a workshop next week for Education undergraduate students at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada regarding the importance of establishing a digital footprint and a PLN. I’m hoping that instilling this mindset early will have a huge impact on our next generation of teachers. Thanks for the thoughts (and links!).

    1. burcuakyol

      Hi Kurtis,

      Thank you for your comment. I agree with you and I think CPD (and using technology for CPD) should be a lesson itself rather than a module in a lesson.

      Good luck with your workshop! :)



  10. Marisa Constantinides

    Dear Burcu,

    Your friend does know you well and the overall aesthetic effect of the blog is very much you! – the allusion to birds and tweeting included :-)

    I share the sentiment of the post – I think you can’t be a bad teacher if you are keen on becoming a better teacher. It’s only people who are indifferent and complacent who close their ears to voices like yours and of many others in our PLN who are convinced that by connecting, we can all be better together.

    I want to thank you so much for including #ELTchat on your highly recommended list of sites for professional development.

    It has been such a great buzz and wonderful learning and sharing opportunity to have been involved as a moderator over the past year!

    Many thanks for also including my own blog in your suggestions list! It’s a thrill and an honour to see it up there!

    But more than anything, I want to say it’s been great working with you on the aPLaNet project.

    Your commitment and professionalism are exemplary and you are a great role model for all teachers!

    I look forward to more the next part of the journey we have embarked together, when we begin to disseminate all the wonderful materials our partner teams have been putting together!


  11. Vicky Loras

    Hi Burcu!

    I will also add that I absolutely love the new design on your blog – super! Nice and colourful and I love the birds : )

    Your post should be required reading for all educators – experienced, newbies, everyone! I love the list of ways teachers can develop that you have here. There are so many ways to develop professionally, be motivated and help our students on an almost daily basis – and I feel very fortunate for that.

    I am forwarding this post to all the teachers I know!

    Thanks so much Burcu for a great post.

    Çok te?ekkürler,

  12. Cecilia Lemos

    Hi Burcu!

    Like everybody else I absolutely love the new designer and especially the header. It does look a lot more like the colorful, artsy, creative person you are :-)

    I loved the post, have shared it with other teachers who are not really in the blogosphere. I agree with you. If you’re a passionate educator and take your PD seriously, you can’t be a bad teacher. And it is much easier to be good – and stay good – these days. For all the reasons you wrote.

    I am most humbled and proud to be among the blog suggestions you made – thank you.

    Thanks for a great post – something worth sharing and hopefully it will show others what they may be missing out on.

    X Ceci

  13. Rakesh

    The message is in the medium…. your new design says it all ! Let me join the chorus of congratulations.

    Sorry, have not been too active recently checking up on blogs and other things but getting back to ‘normal’.


  14. Tarun Patel


    How are you. I am glad to discover your blog through freeeslmaterials.com.

    I run englishteachingdaily.com, a portal that offers a summary of latest ELT blog posts from the blogosphere, event updates, articles and more.

    We would like to reprint your articles on my site. We will give appropriate credit to you for your works and link to your profile and the website.

    Kindly have a look at my website at englishteachingdaily.com and let me know if we could work out together.


    Tarun Patel

    email: tarunjpatel@gmail.com
    skype: tarunjpatel

  15. Carmina

    Another nice post…….thanks for sharing.

  16. Nicole Weaver


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