#TESOLfr made me think thrice


A question that has been plaguing me for the past month (and really ever since I started teaching) is:  What are the roles that teachers and students should play in classroom management.  Even that word management feels a bit funny as Willy Cardoso explains here.

Two weeks ago I blogged about “Control in the Classroom“, specifically the fascinating origins of the word “control”.  It’s always the words, words, words and of course their ORIGINS that get me thinking.  BIG SURPRISE… they followed me throughout many of the TESOL France presentations, and I’d like to share some gems here with you.

All of the words mentioned below will lead us back to this original question of what could be our role in the classroom.  Hope you enjoy the word journée ! ;-)





In the opening plenary, Stephen Brewer asked if anyone knew the origins of “school“.  I was almost embarrassed not to know as a number of the PLN looked right at me and all I could do was shrug my shoulders. ;-)  Hilarious.

Stephen went on to explain the greek roots of skhole meant “lecture“, “discussion” but also “leisure” as it was for the privileged few and viewed quite differently at the time.




In her presentation “Addressing attitudes and ExpectationsDivya Brochier explored the roles, emotions and motivations of teachers— specifically how we see ourselves, but also how our students see us.  She shared an anecdote of a student who didn’t respect her authority, and Divya—through discussions with the boy’s mother—-finally uncovered it was because she didn’t hold a “ruler” as had his previous teachers.

A ruler… an object of authority.  We will come back to this word RULER.



With this photo, Luke demonstrated how streets were straightened in Paris to enable the government to better manage popular riots


Luke Meddings leapt over multiple technical issues to deliver a wonderful plenary.  Two points really stuck with me:  1) the art of getting lost to discover (both a city and a language) and an ‘opposite’ of  getting lost, the 2) “regularising tendency”.

The latin root, reg (to direct, to guide in a straight line) is very closely tied to the latin root rex, or the king, the commander, as in Tyrannosaurus rex, the “King of terror lizards”.

Now, let’s come back to the word ruler a cognate of rex… and its MANY other cognates

(including “king” in spanish, french, hindi and german)

So much division, top-down power, or ‘straight’ tied up in these words.  Not as much room to ‘get lost’, or to seek one’s way when things need to be right, rectified, corrected, regulated, directed…

Personally— and I’m not standing out on a limb “regulating” what should be, but simply stating what has worked for me— nothing has given me a greater boost in my language-learning efforts than actively seeking— reaching to understand or to express language.  I actually left formal language classrooms after Uni (and still learned Spanish and Chinese) because there wasn’t enough room to get lost, to personalize languages, to wonder, to move at my pace.


FOURTH EXAMPLE: (post conference… a feeling many of us shared)


Did you know that friend, friday, free and even love have similar origins ? More here

And thinking of friends and the classroom… we probably shouldn’t be rule-bound, regimenting regents of the classroom, nor can we be friends with our students either…

With all of these ideas of power, classroom management and student-teacher relationships, I leaned on Larry Ferlazzo and his community to gain perspective on how other teachers approach the issue.  I asked Larry for his weekly EdWeek post,

Can we be friends with our students? Where do we create barriers? How about social-media wise? I’m interested to hear about your experience, lessons learned, regrets, what you would offer as advice for new teachers.”

His 3 part answer can be found here, here and here and it is really worthy of a weekend perusal.  My main take-away was that 1) the word “friend” these days has been loosened quite a bit and is more superficial than before (facebook effect) and 2) teachers can be friendly, but that it’s best not to be friends.


Wonder what you think ?


Are we kind kings of the classroom ?


I wouldn’t say that… i’m just making an etymological pun as kind and king come from the same root of “kin”… so saying “This kind of king is especially kind with the kindle-using kindergartens related to his kin” is actually very repetitive etymologically-speaking…. more here.

Thanks to Stephen, Divya, Luke and Beth for inspiring my word wonders and I would love to hear how you see your role vis-à-vis your students, or your reactions to any of these etymological musings.




etymologically inspired here as always



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  • http://twitter.com/naomishema Naomi Epstein

    Although I believe in a classroom of “choice”, where the pupil must take ownership of his/her learning, I certainly don’t believe teachers and students can be real friends. We are not on equal footing. Even though I’m not much of a discplinarian at all, the students can’t talk to me the way they do with each other and I give limits and frameworks. Friendship requires a reciprocy that in my opinion, can’t exist in this situation.

  • http://twitter.com/seburnt Tyson Seburn

    Your post is an awesome example of how to bring together workshop sessions into a meaty post, rather than simply summarising… ;)  We all value your etymological angle and obviously (as evidenced when everyone looked at you) look to you for enlightenment in this area.  As I’m currently in the midst of showing students how to break words into their affixes and roots, your knowledge would very much have come in handy when considering what the roots are and mean.

    Now, on to your metapedagogical rumblings with regards to friendships with students.  I have none to add, really.  ;)  We’ve talked about this before (on your posts I believe), so it really deserves more contemplation on my part, likely, before I can comment more.  Suffice it to say that I’ve run into a new situation – students following me on Twitter.  Although it’s largely used for professional purposes as opposed to socialising on a non-ELT level, I’ve found my principle of not friending students on Facebook having a certain application on Twitter too–something I still need to suss out fully on my own.  I feel fine about them checking out 4C and even getting to know that the world of communication opportunity expands greatly being on Twitter, but now I also need to be cognisant of what I allude to in my tweets too.  Sigh.  

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    Thanks for your thoughts, Naomi.

    Reciprocal is an important word here, and it was mentioned a few times in Larry Ferlazzo’s article.  The tough part is definining what those boundaries are.  I’m a person who defines and learns by experience.  I never went into class thinking “Oh, I couldn’t talk about this, or help a student in this way”.  Obviously we’ve seen the teacher-student roles throughout our time as students, and yet there so much more potential, especially if we’re dealing with different cultures too.As I said, this has and will continue to be something on my mind and I have no high expectations of ever “closing the case”.  I’m really happy to be able to share it and discuss it with caring teachers like yourselves.  Cheers, Brad

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    Thanks for your kind words, Ty.  If some of the teachers I respect online enjoy these posts, it makes it all worthewhile… and either way, they’re sitting their up in my head and it’s better that they come on out !

    Once that student-teacher realm exists on twitter or facebook, it does constrain our expression.  I know other teachers who have multiple accounts for this reason.  Interesting to hear about a teacher who was fired because there were pictures of her drinking beer on her facebook… now the game is much larger than the way we perceive our relationships with students… now it’s the way society at large expects us to behave both off and online.  
    (http://beerandwhiskeybros.com/2011/02/08/teacher-fired-over-beer-photo/)It’s an odd one to say the least, which is why I enjoy these kinds of conversations.  Thanks again for sharing your point-of-view which is always well-thought out and honest.  Cheers !

  • http://marisaconstantinides.edublogs.org/2011/11/14/going-to-conferences-connecting-with-fellow-teachers/ Marisa Constantinides – TEFL Matters – Going to Conferences, Connecting with Fellow Teachers – #TESOL France

    [...] #TESOLfr made me think thrice [...]

  • http://celtathens.wordpress.com/2011/11/13/going-to-conferences-connecting-with-fellow-teachers/ Going to Conferences, Connecting with Fellow Teachers « Teaching & Learning Foreign Languages

    [...] #TESOLfr made me think thrice [...]

  • http://twitter.com/seburnt Tyson Seburn

    Interestingly, their interest in Twitter was as a result of a lesson we did on an article on smarter cities from Scientific American, which introduced the idea that social media could be used in a bottom-up approach to city technology need.  I showed them Twitter and got some responses from PLN saying ‘hi’ and such.  They were fascinated and signed up, found me, and followed me.  They proceded to try on 4sq too, but I was present enough to not friend them there since they’d more obviously know where I was.  I didn’t give their following me on Twitter much thought (as I didn’t follow them back) until one class they were chuckling to each other at my profile picture.  That first threw up a doubt in my mind.  Next, I was tweeting during break time, something about the fact that I needed to find new ways to engage this particular group of students because the class was going down the tubes, and I thought twice, because I wasn’t sure how carefully my student-followers were paying attention to what I tweeted.

    So here I am in my conundrum.  Do I have two accounts?  If so, students will follow one even though they know the other exists. That’ll beg the question of how to use this new account, which is a commitment I haven’t really anticipated.  And I refuse to be absolutely lame and set my tweets to private.  

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    A conundrum it certainly is, and you’re not the only one in it.

    The way the 2 accounts work is if one is a bit “less easy to find”, ie not having your name, an alias of sorts.  For example, a majority of young french people do that with facebook.  Most of my friends here use a fun 2nd name as they’re not interested in connecting with anyone but their best friends, and they want their privacy in tact.  Ex:  Marie Belouze =  Mari Bebe…

    Obviously, you now need to monitor what you tweet, most specifically about the students.  Then again, you would need to do that on the blog too.  

    I think in the end, it’s a pivotal choice we have to make whether we mention our social media activity to students.  If we do, then they’re probably going to run off and check us out and maybe follow us (even if we don’t mention, they might find us).  

    If that’s something we don’t want, then we should avoid talking about it.  Luckily this is just one group you have, so you can decide what you’d like to do in the future.  Hmm….

  • Anonymous

    Great post! I just have to say that I was watching the opening plenary from home and I was thinking of you too when that question about “school” was asked. I was sure you would know the answer. So funny! I learn so much from your blog posts. Thanks for taking the time, Brad. Missed you all at TESOL France! 

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    We missed you too, Tara !  Glad you enjoyed the post… i have such a blast writing these kind of etymology posts that make us think about it all again, from another angle.

    Hope to see you soon.  Cheers, b

  • http://twitter.com/seburnt Tyson Seburn

    I swear I replied to this this morning already.  It used words like these:  No, streamline, tasks, OK, and oh well.

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    i feel ya… and if disqus lost yer comment, i’ll have to have a few words with it…

  • http://twitter.com/nadiyahjan nadiyah jan

    Always great topics you offer, I learn a lot from your blog posts, Teacher Brad :)  your topics coloring my thoughts and views on various things, thanks!

  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    You’re too kind, Nadiyah.  It’s a two-way street.  All of these comments and discussions bring so much back to me as well.  Thanks for sharing !  cheers, b

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  • http://blog.edulang.com Brad Patterson

    Hi Meeta-

    Thanks for taking the time to read, comment, share a few kind words and even a professional opportunity !  I would certainly love to teach in Korea, but the tide of life has me elsewhere this year.  Cheers, Brad

  • http://www.edulang.com/blog/whos-excited-about-tesolfrance-moi/ Who’s excited about #TesolFrance ? MOI! | A journée in language.

    [...] meetup and also a great “brainstorm” of new classroom ideas inspiring the posts “TesolFrance made me think thrice” and “Standing on our PLN’s [...]