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Recognizing the Worthy

“Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.”

Abraham Lincoln

I started blogging to explore a belief that “we are stronger, better teachers when we work together, share our knowledge, and connect with others.” I’m only marginally better at the tech stuff now than I was at the start, but I’ve learned a lot about the power of the internet to create a community of teachers.

I’m thrilled to be nominated for an Edublog award for best new blog. However, in the six months I’ve been blogging, nearly half of my posts have been written by other teachers. It feels a bit strange to be up for an individual award for something that isn’t really an individual effort. Much of the success this blog has had is a result of great teachers sharing their personal stories as part of the Front Lines of EFL series. They told their stories without expectation of being recognized, and often not believing that other people would even be interested in what they had to say. In some cases, their guest post was their first foray onto a cyber stage and took a fair bit of courage. So, for me, the best part about this nomination is that it gives me an opportunity to give these teachers the recognition they deserve.

First, there was Özge Karaoğlu, an amazing educator in Turkey. Her own blog and wiki have earned a number of well-deserved awards of their own. Shelly Terrell was just as quick to offer her support and a guest post. In addition to having an amazing blog (which has also been nominated for best new blog in addition to several other awards), Shelly does more online than just about anyone else I know. Both she and Ozge do what they do really, really well.

The fact that they were willing to contribute to the Front Lines project without actually knowing anything about it, on a beginner’s blog, speaks highly of their generous natures.

Steven Herder and Dayle Major were also brave souls who said “Sure!” when I first contacted them with the idea of sharing individual teacher’s stories. I met Steven at the recent JALT national conference, and was thrilled to discover that he’s just as nice in person as he is serious about his research. In his plenary, Paul Nation recognized Steven’s extensive writing work with young learners as a fluency model for other teachers. Steven doesn’t have time to post on his own blog and website as often as he’d like, but he took time to write two posts for me, AND helped encourage another teacher to take a chance. Dayle doesn’t (yet) have a blog, but if you follow him on Twitter, you’ll discover that he’s the kind of teacher everyone wants to have in a personal learning network. He’s a great resource if you’re interested in learning about teaching English in South Korea, but even more importantly (in my mind) Dayle engages in conversations. I’ve had some of my best Twitter-talks with Dayle.

Troy Nahumko wasn’t sure that his story would fit with the theme because it wasn’t a very optimistic view of teaching young learners. However, his honest account of his own experience in Spain has received more comments than just about any other post in the series so far. He pointed his spotlight at inequities in our profession that we all recognize but too seldom address. He shines the same clear light on a variety of topics regularly on his blog. He also persuaded another fabulous Spanish teacher, Conchi Martínez de Tejada, to share her story. Conchi is proof that great teachers recognize that they remain perpetual students. She has also recently entered the blogosphere, and her blog, Ken and Karen, is turning into a great resource for EFL teachers of very young learners.

Christina Markoulaki blew me out of the water when I saw what she was doing with young learners in Greece. Between Ozge and Christina, I’m envious of young learners studying English in Turkey and Greece. Christina’s Students’ Page is a fun peek into her classroom window. Recent activities include global warming and geocaching–what great ways to connect language to the global community!

Rob Newberry teaches both technology and English at an international school in Thailand. Rob doesn’t have a blog (yet!) but he’s a great Twitter friend to have. He frequently shares messages from class, and provides a great real-life model for his students of ways they can use technology (and English!) to connect to a larger world. He also organized the first TED.com event in Thailand.

Tomo Wakui is an incredible high school English teacher in Japan. Steven Herder persuaded her that others would enjoy her story. She mentioned in her post that she was a student at International University. What she failed to mention was that she’s at the tail end of her masters, as in trying to finish her thesis (in her second language) while teaching full time. Tomo gave us a look into a teaching environment few of us get to see. At one point in the process of posting her story, I asked Tomo why she decided to become a teacher. Her response was so wonderful that I’m planning to share that as it’s own post in the future.

The most recent contributor to the series is Anita Kwiatkowski. Anita just emailed me her story–I didn’t even have to ask! Her story about her days teaching in Poland is proof that teachers don’t need gadgets or gimmicks to inspire. Good teachers thrive in whatever circumstances they find themselves. Anita’s blog is one I guarantee you’ll enjoy. I always appreciate her insights and sense of humor.

Every one of these teachers is worthy of recognition. So, in the spirit of the Edublog awards, I’d like to ask you to visit their blogs, or visit their posts on this blog, and let them know that you appreciate their efforts, and their stories.

And I’ll strive to continue to be worthy as well.

P.S. The project isn’t over. I’ll continue running the Front Lines of EFL as long as I receive stories to share. So, if you teach EFL to young learners, please consider joining the project. The more we share, the more we all learn!


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  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Barbara Sakamoto, Sara Hannam. Sara Hannam said: RT @barbsaka: Just blogged: Recognizing the worthy http://bit.ly/5rmvMd #efl […]

  3. You aren’t marginally better with tech stuff. I was with you on SecondLife and I thought you did a wonderful job at leading me through to your favourite spot. You, my friend, is worthy of praise. Have a great december holidays.

  4. Barbara says:

    Ah, Annie, you are so good for my ego! I look forward to playing with you in Second Life again, when your computer is more cooperative :)

    You’re pretty praiseworthy, yourself. I really enjoy your blog posts, too. You have a great perspective on teaching EFL!

    Enjoy your holidays, too!

  5. Hey buddy,

    What a heartfelt, beautiful piece of writing. You made me, and I’m sure everyone else, feel special and unique with your kind words. I’m so thankful to have been approached by you sometime in 2009. Becoming your friend has been one of the biggest highlights of my year. I see a long road ahead for new ideas, new projects and further collaborations. It’s so nice to know that you are just a few clicks away.

    A big hug,


    1. Barbara says:

      Thanks, Steven. Meeting you was one of my highlights, too. I look forward to working with you more in the coming year. It’s nice to think of you being “just up the road” in Osaka. Means we might even have a chance to hang out for real!


  6. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by barbsaka: Just blogged: Recognizing the worthy http://bit.ly/5rmvMd #efl…

  7. Thank you Barb for this great piece! Your blog definitely deserves to be up there. You have written some spectacular pieces including the one about PLNs and you are the genius behind the EFL Forefront Series which I have learned a lot from! I look forward to reading more!

    1. Barbara says:

      Thanks, Shelly, for your kind words. The series certainly wouldn’t have the reach it does without your kick-start at the beginning. Your support has meant a lot. You amaze me with all that you accomplish on a daily basis. You’ve built an incredible community of teachers through your blog and through edchat on twitter! Getting to know you was definitely one of the luckiest things that has happened to me since I decided to move online. I’m grateful to be able to claim you as a friend, and extremely proud to be able to claim you as a colleague!

  8. ozge says:

    Barbara, what a great and a heartwarming post! You’re doing a great job on your blog and I like reading your posts and your “the Front Lines of EFL” blog series. You definitely deserve your nomination. I’m happy that you are in my PLN, I feel lucky!!