BLOG CHALLENGE: Teaching is like…



Yes… it’s true.  I’ve done quite a few over the last year and I’ll admit it… it’s because they’re just plain fun, and because I love the creative interactions that ensue within the ELT community.

A PLN member had said recently that things seemed a bit slow in the blogosphere… end-of-the-year doldrums maybe… or are you just pretty darn busy like me? ;-)


So in an effort to shake things up, here goes my challenge:

1) Challenge one:  what is your “teaching is like____ ” metaphor?

2) Challenge two: what experience, activity, or lesson that is completely non-teaching related has brought more to your classroom than anything else?


Feel free to blog and link back here, or if you’d rather just toss in a comment below that’s fine too.  My two cents:


1) Teaching is like surfing. It requires patience and often more observation than action. Knowing how to push up, stand and guide your board is useless if you’re not in tune with the ocean, its movement and timing.  Each wave is unique and never again will you enjoy the one you’re on now, so carpe diem and enjoy class!

Beach where I go surfing a few times a year near Bordeaux.


2) I think my experiences with yoga and being a massage therapist have brought more to the classroom than I can easily express in logical terms.  They’ve brought me an awareness and sensitivity that would have otherwise been hard to learn through a training course, or “tough”to pick up while on-the-job.

Being able to observe reactions to our efforts and attuning oneself to learners is a balancing act, just as noticing how students’ energy is throughout the day, knowing when to wait, when to be firm, smile or just move on… these are things that I feel I cultivated in these more physical-mental-spirtual arts and they have served me well in the classroom.

Though, I’ll admit it’s been too long since I’ve done a sun salutation or sat in the splits as below (summer plans!)

Action shot from Tesol France with three disguised PLN members. Photo courtesy of @IrishMikeH


Look forward to hearing your responses to the challenge(s)!    -Brad


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About Brad

--- i'm a learner-teacher, language geek, outdoorsy kind-of-guy --- U might miss the next tweet... Wanna subscribe by email ? ;-)
  • Language Garden

    Om namah shivaya

  • Brad Patterson

    and i know you dig the wave analogy too, señor Warr!

  • Susan Young

    Teaching is like reading a good novel.  There are many characters, each has a different personality  and part to play in the plot, and you never know–really–until the end how it’s going to turn out.  My experiences of becoming a marathon walker over the past 3+ years have brought more to my classroom than anything else because I have become more energetic and aware of the joys and difficulties of kinesthetic learning and competence.  This has helped create an in-the-guts understanding of learning styles and giftedness.  

  • Emilia Carrillo

    1)      Teaching is like latin dancing. If you attempt it on your own, you’ll look like a seal
    clapping for attention. If you let students take the lead, you’ll end up with
    the most marvelous, engaging, dynamic salsa party you could ever attend.

    2)      Experience: traveling the world, as it has given me tremendous cultural awareness and knowledge.

  • Brad Patterson

    Love it Susan.  A novel indeed!

    And yes, there’s so much to be said for kinesthetic learning as well as the impact of physical exercise on the brain in general.  Congrats on your marathon! ;-)

  • Brad Patterson

    Hey Emilia.  Really enjoy the seal teacher image, and yes, travelling works wonder for being open to different ways of seeing life, and hence different feelings, thoughts, ways of acting in the classroom.  Cheers, Brad

  • Sylvie_guinan

    Brilliant challenge & fun pics:)Excellent questions indeed….Well, my teaching life has changed a lot in the past two years since I decided to work mainly online.. I’m very focused on content creation now, blogging and sometimes swamped in social media.Teaching is like catching fireflies……This because teaching online requires you to search for content or create it, or just learn from best blogs, PLNs etc.So you may to sift through the mundane till you find something quirky, or unusual that sparks off some funny ideas. The quirky, sparky thing is an EduFirefly… Teaching is also like a live tracking device for neurons…I mean that whenever I’m on facebook, for example, my EduRadar is switched on at all times – I think that my subconscious is over-trained in this respect, but you need the radar to survive trivia and keep your sanity, and keep you focused on time and productivity.I track quirky EduFireflies, as I have already mentioned – sometimes they are original poems written by ESL global students, and I take them into my virtual classroom or put them on my blog. Mostly it’s a way to get global students to start writing their own poetry and stories.Or sometimes they’re funny photos that become my content  – like this…….and teaching is like a mental fitness programme – for me, teaching is not worth it if you are not learning anything yourself. Strong PLNs are a must for the fitness regime:)One more – to link up with Brad’s martial arts analogy – Teaching is like rolling out flow  - being able to flow and roll out some rapport, as well as observe what’s going on, really helps students to just click, be themselves, and very often, surprise themselves when they are challenged with open-ended creativity tasks.

  • Sylvie_guinan

    Sorry that’s so long – the paragraphs didn’t work, or the link.

    Funny photo as content

  • Sylvie_guinan

    oop – challenge 2
    Well I don’t run marathons or do massage – I’m just a simple book worm who loves psychology – but my interest in personalities and psychology definitely influences my teaching & writing – it helps me to look at things from unusual angles, and link up diverse bits of info. to create something different or guide my students to do so.
    and I love helping students discover themselves and become confident – this is all a kind of effortless thing stemming from the psychology obsession.

  • Brad Patterson

    Haha. i’ve seen that prezi tale before ;-)

    Nice.  Pyschological bookworming EduFireFly-catching action it is!  Love how we all bring so many different colors to our classrooms (and just as Susan said above, we are but one of the actors in the novel of the classroom).  

    Thanks for taking up the challenge, Sylvia!   

  • Sophia Mavridi (@SophiaMav)

    is like jogging. It may seem easy to do but only few will actually be
    good at it. Being a good jogger takes lots of practice combined with
    good technique and passion. You need to plan your route before you set
    off and warm up thoroughly otherwise you will get painful muscle cramps
    and bad aches. You should remember not to burn yourself out in the
    beginning ending up out of breath but maintain your effort level until
    the end. It’s absolutely great to jog on sunny days (i.e. great classes,
    institutions, equipment) but passionate joggers don’t let bad weather
    put them off. After some years you may reach a plateau and you may need
    to consider changing routes and practices. It may be exhausting but in
    the end, it will always be rewarding. Most of all, jogging makes you a
    better person and so does teaching :-)

    I loved this challenge, Brad! Thanks for making me talk about two things I really love :-)


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  • Tyson Seburn

    Surfing – I would never have thought of that (partially due to the fact that I’ve never been), but very well put.  And yet another reminder of things to do in Paris in November on the list (massage, not surfing).

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  • Brad Patterson

    haha… i’ll be busier with “Ty Tesol France” than the real thing.  Look forward to it!

  • Brad Patterson

    “jogging makes you a better person and so does teaching”

    love it.  you sound like a jogger, Sophia!  It does take a lot of dedication and you’re absolutely right: it’s not for everyone (especially if the weather ain’t the best).

    Thanks!  -b

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  • Adam Beale

    Hi Brad,

    I put my response on my blog. Didn’t want to take up too much room on here. hope you like it. 

    Here’s the link -


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  • Language Garden

     Surfing and teaching: both look ridiculously easy. The reality is far from it.

  • Brad Patterson

    Fine read and wonderful pics.  Thanks Adam!!!

  • Brad Patterson

    They did seem like they were having a good time ;-)

    Shoes and pilates… go figure, but you’ve drawn the metaphors out perfectly.  I was hoping for as much diversity and creativity and we’re certainly getting it!  cheers, CC!

  • Brad Patterson

    That is so true.  

    And the reality is that even when we start to get a really good feel and enjoy them (surfing and teaching), we can still get swallowed by a big wave which makes us think it all over again!

  • naomi epstein

    It took me time to offer up my own metaphor. For one thing, everyone has been describing theirs so beautifully that I find myself relating to every one!
    Another reason is that I can’t seem to remember the metaphors I’ve used in the past. I seem to have different ones at different times.
    So, since it IS Brad’s blog, I would say teaching is like cooking.
    You start off with a recipe, being topics you are supposed to teach. But even though you may officially teach the same topics every year, with every class it is a different experience. The mix of ingredients (especially the seasonings) is never exactly the same. Non teachers often ask if it isn’t boring teaching the same things every year. but not only are the familiar dishes never exactly the same, new creations are being created, whether intentionally or not!

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  • Brad Patterson

    Love it…and you knew I would, Naomi!  

    The funny thing is that I never ever use recipes when I cook (literally dislike it). However, in class I almost always have a running list of activities and think I’d feel uncomfortable if I didn’t. 

    Goes to show that we’re all different cooks and teachers, eh!

  • datEnglish

    Hi Brad!
    This is my first blog challenge and I just loved your metaphor and your pics are so lovely!
    1) Teaching is like swimming
    2) travelling has brought much to my class. 
    I posted in my blog, as once I started writing I just found it hard to stop. You know, we like stories …

  • Brad Patterson

    Great, Debbie.  Just read it and am glad I tempted you into a first blog challenge.  Hope it’s the first of many.  Ah, blogging is a fine addiction ;-)

  • Stephanie Mueller

    Teaching is like playing a sport. It may look easy from the sidelines, but once you get your hands dirty and make mistakes you’ll realize how wrong you were! Teaching can be challenging and sometimes we feel like we can’t make it. But once you start developing your skills, it becomes natural.

  • Brad Patterson

    Love this and as someone who’s both taught and participated in sports for many years it is a metaphor that instantly makes sense! Thanks for sharing ;-)