Agile Solutions

Finding agile solutions outside the ELT world 

Most of us, ELT teachers, ascribe our lack of time to the number of lessons we teach in a week. I, oftentimes, find myself trying to design a lesson, study for an exam, read and take care of the house at the same time. Needless to say that this is, in the least, exhausting. Other times, we find ourselves fastened upon a vicious cycle, trying the same old recipes and getting nowhere. But, why don’t we think outside the ELT box?

Juliana Mota, a teacher whom I have met in person only at the ‘Brelt on the Road’, contacted me after the event, stating how upset she was since she didn’t have the proper time to study or read. She felt her English development was latent and she desired to have more time to take care of her house and husband, to read more and also to do her therapeutic exercises. In order to assist her, I asked her to send me her schedule and all the freer times she had, including the ones she thought it was too short. As soon as she did that, I applied life designing and creativity techniques in order to reshuffle and organise her time better. And apparently, it has worked. She has been doing Cambridge CPE tasks and having great results, she has time to read now, she is working of course and she has been having time to do her workouts. It was a quick solution I was able to find based on her personal “obstacle”.

I am sure there is a solution for every problem we face, it is just hard sometimes for us to see it. Alice Turibio showed us that in a very practical way during her workshop at the 8th BT TD SIG – One day chapter. She used different coloured post-its for some of the steps that were taken. Here is a rough map of what was done:

Step 1) Gather all the obstacles you have, write each of them down on a ‘yellow’ post-it. Stick those on your wall or a window.
Step 2) Vote on the problems that are most urgent to be solved. Get those post-its and separate those.
Step 3) Prioritise the challenge according to the efforts they will require from you and also the impact it is likely to have.
Step 4) HMW (How might we?) Reframe the challenge using another coloured post-it. Allow some time to look at the challenges you face and how might you do it differently. As if you were in another person’s shoes. Regroup the ideas.
Step 5) Start building the solutions. Use another colour. Write as many solutions as possible. Brainstorm at this point.
Step 6) Vote on the best or most plausible solutions for that moment.
Step 7) Prioritise solutions.
Step 8) Decide what to execute based on the ‘impact’ and ‘effort’ frame.
Step 9) Work on actionable tasks.

It might seem like a lot of steps (or time) at first, but they become natural after a while. The solutions were taken from authors and specialists from different areas, and they might work for a problem you have in the classroom as well.

Recommended books (outside the ELT box)
“Designing your life” by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
“The agile mind – How your brain makes creativity happen” by Estanislao Bachrach
“Atomic Habits” by James Clear
“The power of habit” by Charles Duhigg
“The complete design thinking guide” by Daniel Ling
“Como ler mais e melhor” by Ismar Souza
“Produtividade para quem quer tempo” by Geronimo Theml