training resource recommendation share and request

Hi there,

It is the last week of August as well as the last week of vacation for me. At this time next week I will be frantically scurrying around as I prepare for the first lesson in a course I have never taught before.
This week is also the last week of an on and offline (I think the kids are calling this a hybrid) course that I have been working on since January. We are finishing up the 26th of 26 weeks online (the course included 2 super intensive weeks in the winter and 2 super intensive weeks in the summer). As is often the case, my feelings could mostly be described as bittersweet. This feeling might be massed because it looks like it will be the last time for me to run this course and I have been working on it since 2009. The main focus of the course is helping experienced Korean public school teachers be better helpers of other teachers in their schools. A main emphasis is on observation and feedback but we also focus on leadership, being a resource in schools, planning and delivering workshops and helping other teachers with lesson planning. Sometimes this higher meta level of thinking and focus can be a bit daunting and confusing for course participants, some of whom are at first much more interested in adding to their activity stockpile as teachers than they are in thinking about how to help and work with other teachers.

At times on the course it can be confusing to determine where we are and what “level” we are thinking and talking about.  I like to use the idea of “hats” to help make this distinction clearer (although to be fair it can make things more confusing at first). For example, we might do an activity where participants act as students and then they think about this might apply to their teaching. This is what we might call thinking with their “Teacher Hat” on. They might have experienced the lesson with their “Student Hat” on but when we start talking about how to apply it to their teaching back at school they are most certainly wearing their teaching hat.  I hope this makes sense. Other hats that we consider and wear on the course are “Teacher Helper” (we actually have another word for it but I’d prefer to keep things as simple as possible here) and “Human Hat.” The teacher helper hat speaks to the aspect of helping other teachers and the human hat is about themselves as a person or as a member of the group. An example of this might be something like active listening (which could of course be a teacher helper hat situation as well). Among the main teacher helper areas are observation and feedback and coaching.

Why am I telling you all about these accessories? Well, since the course is winding down we trainers thought it would be a good idea to share some resources with the participants (actually we wanted to do it earlier, but time was not always on our side.) In thinking about what to share and how to share it we decided to share resources from three areas/levels of headgear: human, teacher, teacher helper.  So, below I am sharing some of the resources that came to mind for these areas.  I would very much welcome any suggestions or additions to the list(s). 

Stack of hats

Resources for humans

This is probably the area I am least comfortable recommending things, even though it has been remarked that saying “human” much more often than the average English speaking human is part of my idiolect. As I see it, in terms of the resources to be shared in this section, the human hat could just be something interesting or useful for us as people and in this case might be things that help us work better with others or know more about the world and our place in it.

  1. I have a feeling that another trainer will share the Ted Talks page. I have recently discovered there are podcasts as well from the good people at NPR. It is very tough to mention NPR without mentioning the excellent This American Life Podcast.  (Credit to Kevin Giddens for insisting that I listen to this a while back.)
  2. I can’t really mention podcasts without mentioning the Freakonomics Podcast.
  3. I have really enjoyed books by Chip and Dale Dave Heath. These include Decisive, Switch, and Made to Stick.
    “Decisive” is about how to make better choices in life and work. 
    “Switch” is about making changes when it seems difficult. 
    “Made to Stick” is about communicating ideas and how some of them tend to, umm, stick and stay in our minds while others seem to fly away immediately.
    I just now noticed the author’s page has a variety of extra resources. While these books seem to be written with business people in mind I think there are very clear links to teaching.

Resources for teachers

  1. Blogs. Duh.
    Perhaps I need to think a bit about which blogs to recommend.
  2. Twitter.  Of course. Including #KELTchat and #ELTchat
    I think I would also specifically recommend the #KELTchat Facebook group for those that are not on or interested in Twitter.
  3. Understanding Teaching Through Learning” by Josh Kurzweil is always a favorite recommendation.
    (It might be difficult to find but it can be done)
  4. Another book that might be a little difficult to track down but I hope all English teachers in Korea could read is “The Tale that Wags” by Tim Murphey. Here is an interview with the author. 
    (Readers in Korea: I have a copy of this book. It is currently being loaned out. Anne is next on the list. After her, you could be next. Just let us here at the Griffin lending library know. Charges may apply)

Resources for teacher helpers

  1. I wasn’t completely sure if I should put this one in the Teacher section or teacher helper section but I was sure I needed to include it. I think “Professional Development for Language Teachers” by Jack Richards and Tom Farrell is a really nice start which offers an overview on a lot of issues (like workshops, journaling, peer observation, team teaching, peer coaching and action research.)
  2. Although I (unfortunately) never mentioned the book specifically to participants “Contrasting Conversations” by John Fanselow was a very useful resource.
    The same Dr. Fanselow has led  courses over on #iTDi. 
  3. Another book I have found quite helpful when thinking and talking about Observation and Feedback is “Classroom Observation Tasks” by Ruth Wajnryb.
  4. A book we used on the course at times was “Tasks for Teacher Education” which served its purpose (although an update would be quite welcome).
  5. Scott Thornbury’s An A-Z of ELT is always nice to have on the bookshelf as well.
    And I could imagine Big Questions in ELT being a handy resource for leading discussions, too.



Some more books that were quite helpful as a trainer on the course are as follows.

  1. Trainer Development” by Tony Wright and Rod Bolitho.
  2. Mentor Courses: A resource book for trainer-trainers” by Angi Malderez and Caroline Bodoczky.
  3. New Ways in Teacher Education” (edited by Donald Freeman and Steve Cornwell) was also an extremely useful book to have around.

More extras:


  1. purpleHand

    I’d love to borrow the Tim Murphey book after Anne! 🙂
    Now you are making me feel guilty again… I had “Switch” in my to-read as well… for a long time.. I think it was one of your recommendations. I think it’s about time to make up my mind and start reading more. Thank you for sharing!

    • mikecorea

      Hello PurpleHand,

      Thanks very much for the comments. I am happy to push you into reading some good books. You have been registered for the Murphey book after Anne. As for Switch. If you don’t have a copy…I also have a copy of that which could be sent to you (from someone else.)

      I am off to read some excellent teaching related books from the good people at Oxford University Press!

  2. geoffjordan


    David Crystal: The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language.
    Earl Stevick: A way and Ways
    John Faneslow: Breaking Rules
    Jim Scrivener: Learning Teaching:
    Guy Cook and Henry Widdowson: Applied Linguistics
    Henry Widdowson:: Defining Issues in English Language Teaching
    Tricia Hedge: Teaching and Learning in the Language Classroom:

    • mikecorea

      Thanks very much, Geoff! Very nice choices.

      Funny thing is I thought for a while about including “Breaking Rules” but felt it was a bit difficult to get into
      (perhaps especially for Korean teachers).

      Also, I think your recommendation will cause me to give the Hedge book another chance. It is lonely and nearly untouched on my shelf.

      Great stuff, thanks!
      (and I hate to sound like I am making excuses but Learning Teaching had already been mentioned by another trainer!)

  3. Kevin Giddens

    Here are a few more resources… they can switch hats depending on how they’re being used 🙂
    Edutopia has a wealth of easy to digest and thought-provoking articles.
    American English, while challenging to navigate has some very interesting resources for teachers and students. They also have a new webinar series.
    In terms of Podcasts, don’t forget Radiolab
    And finally for teacher trainers there’s Algeria TESOL which was designed for a project working with teachers in higher ed. in Algeria. It might not look like much at first glance but it is an gem of hidden resources 🙂

    • mikecorea

      Thanks Kevin.
      Very much appreciated.
      I hope you liked the artwork in the post.

      Ah, that Algeria site is awesome, thanks. You might be surprised how often it came up in google searches (or you might not be surprised at all!) For example, this page on PDP is about as clear and helpful as I have seen:

      I am not super familiar with Edutopia or the (new?) American English so I will have to check them out.

      Thanks again for the excellent additions. I am so happy I followed your advice regarding This American Life. I am obsessed. 🙂

  4. David Harbinson

    Hi Mike. A really interesting post. I like your idea of ‘switching hats’ to help trainees understand the perspective from which they should be thinking. I have been in quite a few training sessions/meetings as both a trainer and trainee, and on more than one occasion I have thought that we were talking about something from one perspective only to find that the trainer or trainees were thinking about something from another point of view. Working in a private language school for adults, a big thing that we are constantly being reminded about is that we are offering a service. While I understand the need for customer service, I am usually wearing my ‘teacher/educator’ hat and therefore often find myself thinking about things from a pedagogical angle.

    I appreciate the mention and link to my site also :). I agree with Geoff Jordan about David Crystal’s Encyclopedia being an excellent book. Definitely not an easy one to carry around, but a great reference.

    A couple of other recommendations that come to mind are: Psychology for Language Teachers (Williams and Burden) and The Psychology of the Language Learner (Dornyei)

    I think Dornyei’s book especially could be used by many different hat wearers.

    • mikecorea

      Hi David,
      Thanks for commenting. One thing I didn’t mention in the post is that sometimes we make a bit of a show of it and have people make motions of actually changing hats. In the past we have had people actually make hats out of paper but that was maybe one step too far. I have found the concept very useful in terms of “Where are we now?” type questions and also to help us see when we might be thinking as a student when we *should be thinking as a teacher (or whatever combination). I think you make a great point of the distinction between the educator hat and the business/customer service hat. Maybe just being aware of this difference is helpful as well.

      Thanks for the additions to the list. I am vaguely familiar with the first and I owned the second for a few weeks before giving it away as a gift (without reading it). I might have to reacquire it. In any case it sounds like it would be a good addition for these teachers.


  5. kevchanwow

    Hi Mike,

    The Human/Teacher/Teacher Helper Hat (I guess that’s what you would call a hat-trick…sorry): The Speech Accent Archive ( which I think is super cool to help humans hear each other speak with all kinds of accents, is awesome for teachers to listen to and realize how intelligible all sorts of English really is, and the teacher helper hat to help relieve the stress of less experienced teachers who might be worried that they need to use a “correct” pronunciation.

    The Teacher Hat: Diane Larsen-Freeman and Marianne Celce-Murcia’s The Grammar Book, for being the kind of grammar book which really does make teaching English a bit easier, especially when students ask you questions like, “Why do people use ‘that’ instead of ‘who’ when talking about someone else and using a relative clause? Don’t they know that they are making a mistake?”

    The Teacher Helper Hat: A list of local, inexpensive conferences where teachers can get a chance to meet all kinds of fantastic and supportive people who can serve as great role models for how to lend a hand (or an ear).

    Thanks for the liste of books. I’m taking Classroom Observation Tasks off my bookshelf tonight.


    • mikecorea

      Thank you sir for reading and commenting. Much appreciated.

      I think you suggested some great additions to the list here, and in directions I hadn’t really considered. Excellent stuff thank you. I can see all of your suggestions adding to the bookshelf/toolkit/resources available to these teachers.


      Ps- I managed to just shutout the pun.

  6. Pingback: An interview with Geoff Jordan | ELT Rants, Reviews, and Reflections
  7. ashowski

    Hi Mike!

    Thank you for this great post. I feel the blogosphere is becoming an ever-growing place for ELT professionals to share their ideas and resources. A former colleague of mine set up a Facebook page called ELT Blogs ( and it is open for anyone to share anything they would like connected to ELT – I’ve tried my best to post a few things there. It’s something to consider and share, I think.

    You mentioned TedTalks under the “Human” section; what about “TedEd” under the “Teaching Resources” section? (

  8. Pingback: Hats Metaphor and Teacher Training | Wednesday Seminars

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