How did I do? A look back at 2017's goals


It's no use just making goals. You need to assess them.

How did I do with last year's New Year's Resolutions? Let's find out.

I scored myself a pass or fail for each one...

2017's goals were:

1. Blog more


I published 26 blog posts in 2017, up from 11 in 2016.

That's not the one a week I planned (it's literally half that!) but I'm still pretty happy.

I was helped along the way by an adorable twitter bot created by my student @EliteFreq which tweeted at me when I didn't blog that week:

This was genuinely very motivating.

Conclusion: PASS. Tell your friends your goals, so they can support you along the way.

2. Finish some books


My plan was to read more fiction and to actually finish a book instead of getting excited and moving on to the next one. This didn't exactly go to plan.

However, I reckon I read Japanese news every single day in 2017. I'm pretty proud of that.

I also completed Zero Escape 999, and two (nearly three) Ace Attorney games. Visual novels are reading too...


Conclusion: FAIL but maybe that's fine


3. Watch more drama with my students


This goal didn't come to fruition either. I was on the lookout for things to watch but never found anything "just right".

I planned to use Terrace House (Netflix's Japanese reality TV show - think Big Brother circa 2003), but the logistics of showing Netflix in class got the better of me...

We did watch some Japanese TV ads in class though. That was a lot of fun.

Conclusion: がんばれ! (KEEP TRYING!)


4. Have more parties


From Origami Night, to the Summer Barbecue, to the end-of-year Christmas Party, this year has been really busy. Good busy!

We definitely had more parties and attended more events this year. Onwards and upwards!


Conclusion: PASS


5. Be reflective


I think I have actually spent less time reflecting in 2017 than in previous years, and more time actively doing things. This is probably a good thing.

Conclusion: いいじゃないですか? (That's alright, isn't it?)

How did you get on with your New Year's resolutions in 2017?

And have you made this year's yet? I'm still whittling down my list...

"You Said, I Did": Using Your Feedback To Improve Classes


Ever wondered what I do with your feedback forms?

Student feedback is super useful - it lets me know what I'm doing right, and what I can improve about our classes.

Here are some of the main points from February's mid-course feedback, and the action I took based on it in the Summer term.

It's what "you said", and what "I did"!

You said...

"Listening is difficult. Can we do more listening?"

I did:

Now we do listening practice in class every three weeks. It's on the course outline, so that I don't forget.


You said...

"We should have to ask questions in Japanese and not use English." 

I did:

In all classes next year, we'll learn some key questions like "How do you say...in Japanese?"

And then - this is the key point - I'm going to remind you all to actually do it!


You said...

"I like the fun and friendly atmosphere (including the drawing and singing and games)."

I did:

I've included even more singing, videos, drawing, and some board games too. Learning should be fun!


You said...

"I learn visually, and by repetition. Using more visual aids in class would help me remember."

I did:

I've tried to bring more picture flashcards. It's good to be reminded that people learn in different ways.


You said...

"Could we have a review week every month where we go over everything?"

I did:

We actually already do this every four weeks, so I obviously haven't explained that well enough! 

I started the summer term by explicitly telling students about review week and explaining what it's for.


You said...

"We'd like more one-on-one conversation with the teacher."

I did:

I've worked to make sure not every activity is pair work. I try to include myself in speaking activities too, so we can talk one-on-one.


You said...

"The class size is good - it gives us an opportunity to discuss complexities of the language."

I did:

I've set a maximum class size of 12 people.


You said...

"Can we do more "Step Up" questions? I like having the chance to say something a bit more complex, and more exposure to more complicated sentences."

"Step Up!" is the bit on your homework where I ask you to freestyle a bit. "Write about you" or "Write about your weekend plans". It's optional, but I highly recommend it. It's often my favourite bit of your homework to mark!

I did:

Since April, I've tried to put a Step Up! question on the bottom of every piece of homework.

You said...

"Sometimes we’d like a bit more explanation and time to absorb the more complicated aspects of the grammar."

I did:

I've added in more time in my lessons for you to absorb new ideas before I ask you to apply them - especially when we're covering something new and complex.

You said...

"I'd like to speak more about everyday stuff - go off piste, and have more opportunity to just talk amongst ourselves in Japanese."

I did:

I've introduced fortnightly "Free Talk" sections where we talk only in Japanese for 10 to 20 minutes. 


Thank you so much for your feedback - it helps me work to keep making things better!

P.S. Thought of anything else? Click here to get in touch.