Thursday, March 29, 2012

How to build a Language Switch in Students

Hi Guys,

It's been a while since my last post but I'm glad to see that my page views are steadily going up. It means that the effort I put into my blog isn't wasted. So please if you like the blog, recomend it on google or facebook, thanks.

Today I want to write about building a 'language switch' in student's. What is a language switch you may ask? Well for those who don't know yet, a language switch refers to the ability to be able to think in the target language. The benefits of being able to think in the target language are very obvious but I feel it's still important for us to remind ourselves of them before we go on. The first and foremost benefit though is of course the 'snowball effect' which I will talk about later and the next is 'smoothness in speech and comprehension'.

Smoothness in speech and comprehension (AKA Proficiency):

Have you ever heard somebody talk half in their mother tongue and the target language at the same time? That is called inter-language. Another phenomenon is people replacing thoughts with 'ah eh errr' which is a normal habit (authough a bad one) for native speakers but for an L2 speaker it can be disastrous. As by the time they find the words they are looking for, the moment is lost. The reason for those 'ahs ehs and errs' is usually because the L2 speaker is going through their own language first and then structuring the L2 which creates many problems.

To quote one L2 learner from Argentina studying in America he said " first I tried to find similarities in the grammar of my own language and English, but then I realized that it wasn't working. For me to speak English well I had to learn English directly, not through my mother tongue...".

Some things that show a language switch is in effect are:

  • People dreaming in the L2
  • People playing out conversations in their head in the L2
  • Spontaneous production of the L2
  • An effort to switch back into the L1 (accidentally speaking in the L2 to an L1 speaker)
  • Effortless production and comprehension of vocabulary and grammar already learner
The 'Snowball Effect':
The snowball effect as its name suggests is where the student's L2 ability and scope gets better only through the momentum of the amount of L2 already acquired.
The best example of the snowball effect can be seen in a Total Immersion School. A Total Immersion School is a school where all subjects are taught in the target language and the target language is the language used on campus. If you are interested in finding out more about Total immersion Schools you can google 'The French Immersion Program in Canada' Immersion Schools have been running in Canada since the 1950s.
In an immersion school students see an immediate need to use the language and use the L2 they already know to navigate in their surroundings. This is by far the most natural and best way to learn a language as they are living and breathing it on a daily basis and have no way around it. Even doing a simple activity in class like building a cardboard castle or exploring a new concept in science can be a language acquisition experience.
The second example of the Snowball Effect is of students who once they have a language switch in place, explore English by themselves in their free time. This is done through, books, comics, TV programs, Movies, Songs, Twitter, Facebook, Online Games, Offline games (in English) etc. and most of the time the students aren't doing these activities because they are interested in learning, but because they are interested in the medium and activity.
So if we aren't teaching at a Total Immersion School how can we Build the Student's Language Switch?
The easiest way I've found to develop a language switch and meet our claim of 100% success is to use the Total Physical Response approach (TPR). First developed by Dr. Prof. James Asher it is by far the most effective method I've found for students of all learning abilities.
Many teachers have turned their noses up at TPR because they feel it teaches a limited scope of the language, which is true. Then again though, to develop a language switch, love for the language, confidence in learning and an impressive amount of vocabulary, we don't need a broad scope. We need a scope that is practical, real and can be used/understood right away by the students.
Here is a demonstration video of the first lesson in a TPR course, where the instructor is teaching Indonesian:

As we can see from the video the students are having fun, aren't stressed at all, immediately begin to comprehend and store the language and aren't pushed to speak at all. There is no failure and immense success shown in this lesson.
Dr. James Asher described the factors for language acquisition (which he modeled of how a child acquires their first language):
1. A Stress-Free Environment (in alignment with Krashen's 'Affective Filter Theory')
2. Comprehensible Input
3. The Right to Remain Silent
When the students are ready they will speak up by themselves, and they will even be raring for the challenge when the time comes. That time however is different for different students, forcing them to come out of their shell too soon can sometimes set them up for failure and leads to them shutting themselves off.
That's all I have time for today, I hope to continue this article another time where I will give information about the 'steps of TPR' (of in full are not well known) and perhaps some more tactics for developing a language switch in students.
Thanks for reading guys and don't forget if you have any questions you can comment here or post them up on our facebook group page.
Until next time, peace out and let's change some lives!

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Origin and Current State of Active Learning

Hi Guys,
Today I decided to write up a little about Active Learning. My great claim here is that 'Active Learning' is probably the most overused and misused phrase amongst teachers here in Indonesia. It sounds shocking I know, which is my intention. Now that I've got your attention let's look a little further into this 'modern' concept of 'Active Learning', or is it?

Active Learning is often explained to parents here wanting to put their children into 'elite' schools as 'learning by doing' (unfortunately many teachers with degrees in a Subject rather than Education know AL only as that) this is fantastic, to 'learn by doing' instead of just being a passive recipient to information; but it is only a scrape off the surface of the Active Learning concept, a concept which I hope we can explore in a little more detail in this article.

Brain Based Learning:

Last century and especially in the last 25 years (thanks to modern scanning technology) we have learned a great deal about how the brain works. Around the middle of last century notions that learning was an active process where the learner had to be involved to succeed started flourishing in the west. These studies were not to be acted on at large until a few decades later,( now the norm in the USA, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Europe). Many developing countries are only starting to catch on to these movements now.

Where and when did it begin in the West exactly? Well, after the work of Jean Piaget who in 1936 explained 'how a child's thinking develops and matures in stages, as a result of natural curiosity to explore the environment.' in his book 'Origins of Intelligence in the Child' and the 1920s work of Lev Vygotsky was translated into English where he presented his theory that a child learns through experience. Nothing much happened in the classroom. This is of course with the exception of Dr. Maria Montessori who in 1906 had already begun to apply the 'learning by doing' aspect Active Learning without the need for intensive studies or theories on the matter because she knew it worked.

Why and how did she know it worked? Because she noticed that by giving disabled children more autonomy in how they learned they succeeded beyond expectations. She thought it only logical after studying Philosophy (much of which was what we call Psychology today) that the same should work for regular children. Maybe through her studies she got a taste of the knowledge of our forefathers and their 'learning by doing'. Yes! Our forefathers already knew about this, they just didn't formalize this knowledge as it was probably considered common sense.

Most of our forefathers lived in small village communities. Much of their life consisted not of theoretical activities but of practical applications. Thus the best way to learn how to milk a cow was to watch it get done, do it under supervision, then do it by themselves. This brings us to the next parts of active learning. Stepping away from 'Learning by Doing' there are three other aspects to Active Learning:

1. The Mind as a Processor

2. Meaningful Input

3. The Spiral Curriculum

Let's have a look at these three aspects in the context of our forefathers activities in their small communities and also my own learning experience in school.

The Mind as a Processor:

learning can be rephrased as the processing information because essentially to learn something and to commit it to long-term memory the information must go through a lengthy process in our brains it looks a little like this:

1. Information gets presented ---> 2. We choose to focus on it or not ----> 3. if we choose to focus on it our brains will then choose to store it as something real or forget it as something of no use ------>4. the information will then be criticized by our sub-conscious and our perception of the world around us-------> 5. The meaningfulness of the experience will determine whether it is to be remembered in long term or short term memory-----> 6. Long term memory puts information into groups and builds connections, the stronger the connection the stronger the memory.

I'm probably off by a couple of points but so far the research that I've seen shows a similar if not more complex process.

Meaningful input:

By understanding this process we can then realise not only that we should involve our students in the information delivery through experience (learning by doing) but we should also make sure it's meaningful, something which has been a little forgotten as teachers try to make all information meaningful, where clearly all information is not meaningful to everybody. An example of this is mathematics, I found out after year 7 or 8 that the maths I was being taught was not of any real use to me and my dreams and goals in life. No matter how much work the teacher put into making the subject fun and trying to link it with real life activities (trying to attach meaningfulness) my brain knew through my subconscious that it was all a waste of time. The mathematics I learned after year 7 and 8 was all forgotten as a consequence. Which is not a bad thing, it's just a proof that our brain is built to learn, and unless teachers (and more importantly education departments and schools) understand about that build they will continue to try and make things meaningful for everybody. Thus setting themselves and their students up for failure, wasted time and perhaps a loss for the natural love of learning and inquiry, inbuilt in every child.

The Spiral Curriculum:

Ahh I made a promise that I would use the example of our forefathers in their small communities, didn't I? Well in their small communities there was huge importance (thus meaning) to them in all the practical information they were learning. This is because it was all connected in relation to their lives and the lives of their family, friends and neighbors in there community. If the cow was milked they all had milk to enjoy, if they had milk to enjoy they could be strong to plow the fields well, then they had bread, bread gave them the power to build structures and fix roads, this made their life better. They saw the result of their labours in front of them and how everything was connected. This didn't need to be written about of theorised about as it simply was the way of life that they had been dealt by God.

The Spiral Curriculum developed by Jerome Bruner (one of the fathers of Active Learning) and published in 1960 in his book 'The Process of Education' consisted of three stages going outwards in a spike spiral:

Stage one: Ideas are presented in a simple and intuitive way (we could do this through learning by doing experiences)

Stage two: They are continuously revisited and reconstructed in and increasingly formal way.

Stage three: They are finally connected to other knowledge for comprehensive mastery of the subject.

So we see above that to be active in learning it is first and foremost a process and a process which requires meaning. It is not only about students being active in the delivery of new ideas/information but also about them being active in the review/reconstruction of those ideas/information and the connecting of other ideas/information to concrete meaning and give them a 'big picture' instead of a specialized scope which is probably to be forgotten (much can be done through Spider Webs/Mind Maps and an Integrated curriculum but these methods still have much room for improvement).

It is the room for improvement now that I'd like us to question ourselves about. Despite the knowledge and education of Active Learning in it's completeness across the globe it has still failed to actualize in it's complete form in millions of schools (despite it being on the tongues of teachers in those very schools). I think that may be because there are many other aspects and concepts that are now available to us that can inject meaningfulness into the process. Many of which have not been taught to teachers and by 'not been taught' I mean teachers have not been actively involved in the process of learning about them and if they have been then there often hasn't been enough follow up and then connections to other areas of knowledge to make Master Teachers.

This article cannot possibly achieve any of that but what I hope it does do is excite a desire to expand your quest for better ways to teach. Expand it outside the realm of Ambil Tiru Modifikasi (modeling, copying and modifying) with the teaching habits of Western schools. As we can see clearly above that in the West the knowledge of better ways to teach and it's widespread application in schools is often decades apart. If we are to be decades apart from the widespread application in the West, that puts us at close to half a century behind what we could be (theoretically speaking).

Jump then my friends on the Revolutionary Education bandwagon and try to apply things for your self in your classroom with your fellow teachers and push the envelope with new ideas in your school. Don't wait for it to be ordained by the Education Department or by the School's Management because they aren't on the ground, and until you see the need for change, they won't.

Don't let your students be 'half a century behind' in the way they learn. The internet is at your disposal and there are plenty of schools and teachers already taking the revolutionary path that you can take examples from.

I hope this article can promote some discussion and although I haven't got many followers and haven't promoted this site yet please don't hesitate to spread it around if you like what's being talked about here.

Until next time guys, keep thinking outside the box and let's change some lives!


P.S. Sorry i haven't included any pics today, I will try and update this article with some pics later.

Monday, March 12, 2012

How to break down the barriers to learning a new language!

Hi Guys,

What a beautiful Tuesday. Tonight I will go and teach some unfortunate kids in my neighborhood. Some of these kids have been through the wars (not literally). There is one guy let's call him Agung, he's only just entered High School. His house burnt down with all his school leaving certificates etc. So to enter High School he had to take the Junior High exam again through distance education here. Anyway now he's made it but is living in the orphanage so he can go to the school that accepted him. His parents are still without a home, probably living with family two hours away.

Why am I telling you about Agung? It's because today I want to talk about some of the things that can prevent somebody from learning a new language. We can call them "Affective Issues" and for a fairly well written and more detailed article you can visit:

Affective Issues:

Okay so what are Affective Issues? Affective issue are issues that relate to the Affective Filter Hypothesis first put together by Stephen Krashen.

They consist of a number of elements the main ones however are in the article I linked to above and are what I'm going to discuss in relation to Agung. 1. Self-Esteem 2. Inhibition 3. Motivation and 4. Anxiety.

Now you may be surprised to hear that Agung and his friends at the orphanage so very little of these factors. They are actually probably the best students I've ever had in that regard. The moment I come in they are attentive and ready to learn, it is almost too hard to finish the class because they are just egging for more. Why? Why would it be that a bunch of children that have all been through some psychological trauma of some kind would be the easiest to teach? I'll tell you what I think - it's their appreciation for life and their love for learning. They don't take learning for granted anymore, they realize what it would be like without this blessing they have to now be able to study a language and for that they have the greatest filter beat - Motivation.


Motivation is the be all to end all in language learning (any learning for that matter) Sure Self-Esteem, Anxiety and Inhibition are strong factors but against a strong will to succeed and an appreciation for learning they don't have a leg to stand on.

Going back to how the brain works we can find that way back in 1885 we could already see evidence of this strong motivation factor. In 1885 Hermann Ebbinghaus did an experiment on memory retention and one of the things he found was that "...meaningful things are remembered for about ten times longer than random meaningless things" hmm "random meaningless things"? Sounds a bit like a foreign language doesn't it? Random meaningless sounds or random meaningless words are often how a second language learner sees the target language. Which I think is the greatest effect on motivation. If it is gobbledegook then why would we be motivated or have the self-esteem to think we can turn it into something meaningful that could be remembered?

Our part as teachers:

This is where the teacher comes in. If we can structure learning in such a way that it is immediately meaningful and makes sense as usable language then the students will react by committing it to memory. After they commit it to memory they will be motivated to come to the next class with less anxiety, more confidence and there learning inhibitors would have been removed by the great success of learning another language. What our students need is success in the classroom. If we can give them success even if it's with producing a list of commands independently and expressing themselves this way through their new command of the foreign language. This is more than enough to stamp out any affective filters right there and then. Giving a good start to language learning and getting them through the beginner level as quick as possible is the greatest gift we can give to a Foreign/Second Language Learner. As the beginner level for most language learners is the biggest hurdle, it is the time where they will either recognize gobbledegook as real language or they will run away from the whole process and shut out the [perceived] madness.

Child Vs Teen learners:

With young children it's easy. They have had little or no negative experience with another language so it is easy to convince them that anything is possible, including learning one or many foreign languages. With older students however ones that having been trying to force down the language to no avail at a tedious pace for many years, this is where our real challenge lies.

We can not expect older learners (SMP and SMA) to all have the same motivation as Agung and his friends especially if they see their parents doing well enough in life without the target language, why would they want to torture themselves any further with this mad gobbledegook language? That is why to deliver our claim of 100% success in teaching a foreign language. We need to find out which students have a strong affective filter (built up through years of failure in being able to speak) and fix the boat while it still floats. Show them that language learning is not what they think it to be, get back to the basics of the language and give them the success they deserve!

I hope that next week I will have time to do a write up on two techniques that have almost been forgotten and will be able to to instill the confidence needed for our students to propel themselves through the language learning process. We will look at a Brain-Based approach to language learning, based on the last 25years of studies in cognitive science. If you want to get an idea of the kind of language learning techniques we'll be talking about you can check out this video: Born to Learn: Class Reunion. Click on any of the other born to learn series after you're done to get more of an insight into the learning revolution. Also please discuss the videos or any information on this blog either through the comments section or at our facebook group "Change Lives Together!".

Until next time, peace out and let's Change some Lives!

Warm regards,


How to get 100% Success in Teaching a Foreign Language

Hi Guys,

Continuing from the last post "Questioning Our Preconceptions on Education", what can we achieve after we question our preconceptions? The answer of course is a world of opportunities but what I'd like to focus on today is the benefit that language teachers can get.

CS to BS:

CS to BS means "current situation" to "better situation" to bet a better situation we must first examine our or our current situation. Here's the CS:

  1. To be able to speak another language you must be able to speak using another language (sorry for stating the obvious)
  2. It is common in most schools around Indonesia to have students graduate from studying English for 9-12 years without even being able to speak English confidently
  3. The excuse floating around is that this is okay because they can still pass written tests and are therefore building up a good background knowledge of the language
  4. Having a good background knowledge of the language but not being able to speak yet is what we call a "false beginner" being a false beginner after 9-12 years of studying a language is not good enough, to say the least
  5. Some students come out of the system being able to speak the target language well. Many say this is showing the system works, I say those students are linguistically gifted and have great internal motivation to succeed. Having a 10% success rate is not to be bragged about.
  6. There must be change!
  1. Language is perhaps the only subject in which we can claim to be able to get a 100% success rate. Not every child born on this earth will be competent in Mathematics, nor will they be great in Geography but all human beings can speak a language (unless of course they have some severe disability). Even those who are not able to speak or hear, can use sign language. So everybody can learn a language, if everybody can learn a language, everybody can learn a second or a third language, we have this ability inbuilt in us at birth.
  2. All we need to do to get this kind of success is set the correct standards. For the first few years (or at least until the students get past not being able to speak) books and paper based tests should not be used. This is setting many students up for failure and does not instill confidence in students. You should not ask a Second Language Learner to work on literacy skills straight away just as you would not ask a baby to learn their mother tongue from a text book either!
  3. If we focus on speaking and listening for a year using a brain friendly approach our students will be able to speak. It may take a few sessions a week but they will speak. This means in one year we will achieve more than what others do in 12 (this is not to say reading and writing wouldn't be used but it just wouldn't be tested or focused on). This means that our students WILL graduate speaking another language, ALL our students, not that shabby right?
  4. This opens up a world of possibility for language instruction. If it is possible to get a student to an upper-beginner level in a foreign language in 2 years (being confident to speak and explore the language afterwards by themselves) this means after Primary School (SD) all students would be able to speak three foreign languages to an upper-beginner level.
  5. If students graduating Primary School have an Upper-Beginner level in three languages and feel confident with foreign languages this means they could fine tune one or all three of these languages in the next 6 years on Secondary Education. More than enough time to work on literacy skills (especially if they are making a transition from Bahasa Indononesia which is also a Latin Script language or being able to read Quran which is a good enough background in Arabic literacy to kick start the next 6 years).
So in conclusion with only a slight change of mindset and a few new techniques up our sleeve we can achieve grand possibilities in teaching another language. How about for other subjects, what small changes could we make to achieve similar grand results? I think there are probably a few, but let's leave that till another day to discuss.

Please don't forget to leave your comment and visit/join our facebook group to discuss information on the blog or to add your own ideas.
Until next time - Let's Change some Lives!
Kindest regards,

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Questioning Our Preconceptions on Education

Dear Friends,

I once read a story about a few men sitting together on a plane. They were traveling on a light aircraft to a small town in Alaska. One was a local, another was an American from down south and another was an international traveler from Asia (Korea or China I forget). Anyway over the loud speaker came the voice of the pilot explaining how much longer it would be till they landed, where they were now, the usual stuff.

When the pilots voice came over the speaker the passengers could immediately tell the pilot was a woman. The American (from down south) said "that's unusual, we have a female pilot today, the Alaskan man replied "Oh no, quiet normal here, in this neck of the woods there are more pilot licenses than drivers licenses. Quite normal to have a female pilot!" the Korean man then chimed in and said "Wow, so strange!".

You see here we have three different preconceptions 1. It's normal 2. it's interesting and 3. it's strange. All on a fairly simple subject on the sex of a pilot.

Entering a new situation or idea:

We all enter a situation or look at a new idea with our own preconceptions about what is normal, effective, okay or strange. It doesn't matter whether our preconceptions are the best way of thinking or not, we have them none the less.

Having them is normal and part of who we are but refusing to look outside our preconceptions limits us as human beings. Limitations to thinking can be disastrous!

Edward De Bono put it as thinking without values is pointless, values without thinking leads to human rights violations (Hitler was quoted to of said:

“How fortunate for leaders that men do not think.”)

. I think that sums it up pretty well. Or at least, values or preconceptions without questioning will to a metal block, or a shallow view of things. Also Edward De Bono has explained in detail how we can expand our thinking process, he talks about a reliance on critical/judgmental thinking and how this itself although effective in many situations can be poor when looking at preconceptions or new ideas. Read more at

The need to think better and question our status quo is I think blatently obvious considering the above.

Preconceptions in education:

The above issue is as rife as ever in the education industry, especially in developing countries like Indonesia but not at all limited to them.

There are huge reform movements in education happening in the UK at the moment and a lot of talk about the irreverence of learning about King George the 5th and his many wives to today's generation. You can find more about one reform movement in the UK by visiting

In Indonesia however and many other developing countries, the trend and norm seems to be to model their education on what education in Europe or the USA is like, not on what it could or should be like. This is the trend but thankfully not the only path being taken. There are many other schools who are taking a revolutionary step away from the norm, not only the norm of Indonesian education but the norm of Global education and the norm of Global mistakes in education.

If a surgeon from 18th century walked into a hospital today do you think he would be able to function normally? Forget the 18th Century just imagine a surgeon from the 60s my wife is a Dentist and for her thesis she did it on the differences in implant techniques and technology. The techniques and material they were using in the 60s looks like something out of a horror film, no wonder people are scared of going to the dentist nowadays, it's probably ingrained in there selective memory from generations past.

Can the same be said for schools though? The answer is probably not! If a teacher from the 18th century walked into a school today we could probably pick up a book and teaching from the board almost as well if not better than many teachers today. This is a result of us not willing to rethink education. A huge amount of development has been done in the way the brain works in the last 25 years (which I would love to expand on in another article some time) which has not been taken heed of in the way we teach now. Sure the term "Active Learning" is well known now in Indonesia and many other countries but how "Active" can the learning be if the basis of examination is still balanced on paper based assessment, an essentially "passive" method of examining knowledge?

Exceptions are leading the way but for a limited clientele:

Like I said though there are schools that are taking the renegade path like the "School Of Universe" in Parung, Bogor or many of the Montessori schools scattered around JABOTABEK (Jakarta and Surrounding Suburbs) now. But these schools are reserved for the wealthy elite and upper middle-class than can afford paying well over a hundred dollars a month per child (well over the average Indonesian's monthly salary).

So there is now a call to arms, a call to change and a call to questioning our preconceptions on thinking, learning and education. The Indonesian teacher is not in an easy situation. When they where in School they got taught in a stagnant paper based way that has been in use for centuries, when they went to University although they were perhaps taught about "Active Learning" but they were taught "Active Learning" in a passive way from their lecturers. After they finished University and started working, although they may have begun to understand the concepts of Active Learning (ironically through passive instruction from their lecturer) there workmates failed to show a practical example of AL in use so the memory of a slightly better way of teaching soon fades and they begin the process all over again with a new generation. I know, Indonesian teachers don't want it to be this way, I know many Indonesian teachers who are fighting against this vicious cycle and doing something about it, promoting Active Learning in their underfunded schools in remote areas of Indonesia and making a difference. Changing lives! Not only with active learning but with many other concepts and techniques that are less well known not only in the Developing World but in seemingly well Developed Nations as well. They need help though, they need support and they need a place to discuss the revolutionary movement as it unfolds.

Our Part To Play:

I hope this blog and the facebook group under the same name Change Lives Together! can be one of the many accessible forums for like minded teachers to share and change lives together!

I will finish with a little story from Robin S. Sharma of a boy who is bugging his Papa (who was trying to read the paper). The father decided to distract his son with a map of the world he found in his newspaper by tearing it up into hundreds of peices and giving it to his son. The father thinks he'll have at least a few moments of peace and quiet but after only a little while his son comes back with the completed map. "Wow, how did you put it together so quickly, you are quite the little genius!" said the father, "No Papa, it was easy really, on the back of the map there was a picture of a person, once I put the person together, the world was okay!".

So perhaps, if we can change lives, even just the life of a of a fellow teacher in the way that they teach. We can play our part in changing the world. The world is after all, made up of many individuals who are waiting for change, waiting for something to happen and change begets change just as hope begets hope and love begets love. Let's stand up and begin then, let the education revolution begin with us - today!

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Margaret Mead

Until next time I hope this has been inspiring for you and shines a little light and hope on your day.

Kindest Regards,



Plant Flowers

Plant Flowers

This year for Teacher Appreciation Week, plant some flowers or a tree in honor of a teacher who really influenced your life in a positive way. If you have permission from your school, you could do this on school grounds. Or you could even bring in a potted plant for your classroom, for all of your classmates to enjoy. If you finished school long ago, think about sending flowers to your local elementary or high school--even if you don't personally know all of the teachers who work there, you can let them know you appreciate the good work they are doing in your community.

Letting others know we appreciate them is one of the most thoughtful kind acts we can do. And when we include planting flowers or a tree in that act of appreciation, we are also being kind to the earth!
Step It Up:

If you have some time, get permission before hand and see if you could also hold a ceremony honoring your teacher while you plant the flowers or tree. You could collect contributions from your classmates and have a plaque or memorial stone created to accompany the space you are planting. This could even be an annual event, each year honoring a different Teacher of the Year.
Keep It Simple:

Get your classmates together and present your teacher with a small potted plant or flowers for the classroom. Often flowers are much more affordable if you purchase the flowers to plant yourself, and they last a longer! Have fun picking out a specific plant or flower that reminds you of your teacher. Include a card signed by all your classmates letting your teacher know how much you appreciate him or her.

See more great kindness ideas at:

Hi everyone and welcome!

Hi guys,

Great to be here and to act on this idea I had to start this site. I wouldn't call it a blog because it's a place for you to share as much as for me!

For a while now I've had the personal moto "Change Lives!" I got onto this idea as I was teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language in Indonesia. I thought to myself "what am I doing here anyway?", "I was never hot at English at school!", "what difference am I making anyway?" then I realised that teaching English here really does change lives. Working at the schools and teachers I have has led to perhaps thousands of Indonesians being able to speak English that perhaps wouldn't have before. This is wonderful and changes lives. Then I realised that all teachers are in the "Changing Lives!" business. Not only all teachers but all people. A barber, a personal trainer a good neighbor perhaps even a janitor. We can all change lives for the better, including our own an it's one of the greatest adventures, feeling and achievements of our own lives as well.

So let's get into it guys, please share by commenting on any of my posts, I will make a facebook page of the same name; and if you have anything particular to share as a new subject just send it to me and I'll post it up under your name.

All the best in your adventure. Let's change lives together!