What is cyberbullying and how do we fight it

What is cyberbullying and how do we fight it

Cyberbullying: the great threat


School bullying has always existed between students but there is now a new form of bullying which is even more pernicious: Cyberbullying. Traditional bullying usually involves just a handful of participants. Cyberbullying can involve dozens, thousands and even more. Digital media have changed the society in such a way that bullying can be spread anywhere and anytime. There is absolutely no escape for the one victim of such harassment.


So what do we do? Do we withdraw from social media? Do we stop using the Internet? Do we prevent our children from using their cell phones?

That’s no solution. We live in a digital world and instead of banning all technology from our lives the answer is in the right use of technology.

Children should be taught how to use technology correctly and they should be taught values as well to understand that any action they take in their virtual lives may have an impact in their real lives.

How about the sad story of Amanda Todd? For one single mistake in her life (flashing her breasts on the Internet) she paid the high price: Her LIFE. After this terrible mistake she got cyberbullied. The harassment never stopped. Day after day. At night. Online. In real life. ALL the TIME. Her life became a nightmare. The only solution she could think of was to take her own life. And they are many cases like her. Megan Taylor Meier, Felicia Garcia, Patrick Ryan Halligan. These may be just names for you. But they were students, they were teenagers, they were children and they took their lives for similar reasons. Because they were cyberbullied.

So yes, teaching the young ones some moral values and showing them the right use of technology and showing them that they have to protect their privacy and intimacy online is absolutely vital.

What is cyberbullying

But educating children the right use of technology is not enough. Adults should be taught as well how to use the Internet safely.

Why? Because as adults when we take silly pictures of our friends on a Friday night and share them around, the message we convey our kids is that it is just ok to share silly pictures around. Sharing any material whether we are talking about videos, articles or pictures does have an impact! NOTHING can be erased for good on the Internet. Think about that teacher (Ashley Payne) who shared a photo of herself drinking a glass of wine. Innocent picture. That’s what you would think. She got fired. How about Obama’s young speechwriter John Favreau whose picture of him making fun of Hillary Clinton got viral. Fired. Posting personal pictures, sharing videos online is a big deal because it can lead to bullying. Every single personal information is saved on some server and anyone can have access to it. If you behave in a silly way as a teen and your pictures are posted on the Internet, you can be sure that those pictures will still be available to your future employees.

Prevention courses have to be delivered in schools about cyberbullying  as early as in primary school and parents must be invited to these talks. There are so many cases of cyberbullying that could have been prevented if only students, parents and teachers had known how to handle the situation. There are laws to protect victims of cyberbullying. That’s a good thing. But the best way to stop cyberbullying comes from homes and prevention.

Understanding bullying and its components

Understanding bullying and its components

Understanding Bullying


Bullying is not something new but it is a problem that we don’t always know how to handle as teachers, educators or parents.

We all know that bullying has spread over the past decades. What we tended to simply call as a “growing up process” is now treated as it should be: a harsh constant intolerable harassment. It does not matter who you are. It can hit you any time whether you’re Black, White, heterosexual, gay, with ginger hair, a girl, a boy, clever, tall, short, fat, slim, Muslim, Catholic…The list is endless. We know that.

Last year for the Bullying Month I was invited by the Embassy of the United States in Spain to deliver speeches in different schools in Madrid, Valencia and Cartagena. The idea was to raise an awareness about bullying and the point was to work on prevention rather than working on the cure. I focused on explaining what bullying was and highlighted the factors leading to it. We also discussed about the common and less usual warning signs that a child or teenager can be bullied. I insisted on the fact that communication was the key to prevention. Communication between parents, teachers and students.

Bullying must not to be dealt with as part of a difficult growing process. Bullying is a behaviour. As such it can be changed. How? By involving the three members part of the process AND their families. We CANNOT as educators fight bullying alone. Nor can parents of the victims and witness. This is a common process.

For example, how can a teenage girl explain that she had some videotaped intercourse and that it is now all over the Internet? How come this girl had never spoke about her personal struggle? The answer is simple. Talking about bullying is difficult.

That may sound unreal for some of us as adults but teenagers put themselves in dangerous situations and once it is done they don’t have a clue how to get out of them. Other children or teens are also simply victims of constant harassment because of their social, religious or family background. How can some little boy explain that he suffers because some students are constantly harassing him because of simply who he is? Bullying is cruel and everywhere.


Let’s not turn a blind eye. By understanding bullying must be addressed with parents and explained to parents before students even start school. They need to be told that it is a serious concern and as such it will be addressed not only with their children but with them as well. Let’s not forget either that in most cases of bullying the child who bullies has been deprived from a home with solid moral values. Some bullies are also themselves victims of verbal or physical abuse. The idea here is not to blame the bully or his parents the idea here is to provide help to get the necessary change in behaviour.





Understanding bullyingBullying can be prevented as long as we know that bullying does exist from Kindergarten.

As for schools the message must be clear with all the teachers and members of staff. Creating a solid code of conduct is part of the message but even better when the parents and children take an integrant part in its elaboration. Teachers should do activities in class, groups of discussions should be held with the school community, workshops should be done about the responsibilities, rights and duties of living in a community and in a society.

Understanding bullying, First step is to take it seriously. Children and teens must feel free to talk to adults without being judged or prejudiced.

Changing a behaviour takes time. It can take months and even years but it is everyone’s responsibility to address the issue. Everyone should stand against Bullying. Campaigns are a good way for awareness but the Month of Bullying is clearly not enough. The virus doesn’t spread just during one month. It’s all year long.

To sum it up, understanding bullying it’s about knowing prevention is much better than the cure in terms of bullying as the consequences of bullying have huge traumatic impact on the three main characters of the program. Postponing any action to fight the issue can have huge consequences on the short and long run. I would just add here that children and teens face the problem every day at school and through online devices but it is now up to us as adults to consider the real impact it can have on our children and students.

Becoming a Teacher Leader

Becoming a Teacher Leader

Why becoming a teacher Leader ?

The world of education is changing. Teachers are no longer just standing in their class and teaching. They are taking on leadership roles and their influence goes beyond their class. The speech delivered by Dr. Yilin Sun, the President of TESOL International during the TESOL Convention in Peru resounded as an echo to this. For decades and even more teachers have limited their vision of education to their classroom boundaries. But with technology, government input and innovative types of teaching education is now being taken to the next level. Teachers shouldn’t be seen as mere educators relying on their textbooks to convey knowledge. They should be seen as key roles in the upcoming changes in Education. But doing so requires a lot more than just words and projects. Teachers have to be the ones with a vision.

They have to consistently thrive for a better world where education sets the basis of better opportunities for their students. An efficient teacher leader demonstrates important skills to identify issues, find solutions, motivate and energize peers around a common vision.

Teacher leaders are keys to build links not only within their schools but also beyond their school environment to convince others that their vision can make a valuable change to the education world.

How to become a teacher leader

I will quote here Dr. Yilin Sun about teachers and leadership: “L stands for Learning, E stands for Engaging, A stands for Advocating, D for Developing, E for Empowering, R for Reflecting, and S for Sustaining”. Sun, Y. (2015, March), 7 Magic Steps Toward Developing Teachers as Leaders.

I would simply mention here that there are no magical steps to become a leader. Most teachers display skills to become efficient leaders but what makes the difference is the dedication, motivation and the organization skills they possess.

What truly makes the difference is the ability to get out of the comfort zone and avoid procrastination at all cost. Of course marking, planning, designing material, paperwork and parent evenings can be constraints in terms of time to implement projects but if I have learnt one thing when coaching and training teachers it is that procrastination leads to nowhere but to regrets: “If I had known I would have set up this project earlier. Had I known it was easier I would have dared.” These are sentences I often hear when coaching teachers.
My point is people are not going to help you reach your goal as an educator and even less as a leader. No one is ever going to knock on your door to tell you how brilliant your ideas are. You and you only have to stand up for what you think is right. This means going to free trainings even on weekends, saving money for workshops if your school can’t afford to pay the fees, travelling, connecting with your peers in your town, country and abroad.
Even if this costs you long sleepless nights I do believe that education and the future of our kids is worthwhile. So what are you doing to be the next Teacher Leader ?

I would love to hear about Your ideas and initiatives

Arequipa TESOL – Beyond learning : building an international community of teachers.

Arequipa TESOL – Beyond learning : building an international community of teachers.

The TESOL Association was celebrating its 25th Anniversary in Arequipa, Peru a few weeks ago. Many international speakers from the US, Canada and Japan -among others- were invited to deliver speeches and give demonstrations about how to write the next chapter for our 21st century students. The 3-day Convention offered powerful insight on key issues met by ESL teachers such as the generational impact on teaching, the importance of differentiation, and the use of interactive tools to enhance learning.
I had the opportunity to deliver some speeches as well focusing on the implementation of innovative methods of teaching along with some workshops about Storytelling and Lateral Thinking in the ELT class. But beyond the pleasure of sharing my experience and knowledge with others I also took the opportunity as a teacher trainer to meet other teacher trainers from all over the world with varied perspectives about education and teaching. Meeting other teacher trainers and teachers from different countries was a good way to build links and share practice and techniques.

“We (teachers) should take every opportunity to improve on our practice, that’s what will lead to the path of teacher leadership.”

Peru is at an exciting moment for education and everything seems possible for any teacher really looking to make a difference. With the ongoing reforms in the country and in the whole world teachers are the ones who will be in charge of leading projects for the benefits of education. About 400 teachers from Peru travelled all over the country to attend the TESOL event (Lima, Tarapoto, Cajamarca…) Events like this play a key part in the professional development of teachers and in the creation of a solid community of teachers ready to share and help one another. There is an urgent need to build a community of teacher eager to learn new skills and implement teaching strategies that will make a real impact in the learning of English. However the unity of teachers needs to be not only on a school level or national level, it has to be on an international one.
As Dr. Yilin Sun, the President of TESOL International pointed out in her inspirational closing plenary “we (teachers) should take every opportunity to improve on our practice, that’s what will lead to the path of teacher leadership”.
Teachers are the ones who can bring positive changes, not only in their class but beyond frontiers. They hold the keys for a brighter future. It is now up to all of teachers to continue learning and improve on their practice to make this future possible for the 21st century learners.

Pokemon go classroom ideas

Pokemon go classroom ideas

How to use pokemon go in the classroom

How to use Pokemon Go in the classroom

Pokemon Go Mania : Catch them all!
The world is getting crazy about Pokemon Go! Everyone is setting up Pokemon accounts to become Pokemon trainers. Being a teacher trainer and not a Pokemon trainer yet, here’s my perspective on the phenomenon. I have seen my students, my neighbours, my friends and strangers working all together to hunt these little virtual creatures. I have seen people getting out of their house, talking to one another, sharing tips and most importantly going to places they would never have gone to before. So, even if Pokemon Go has its detractors, let’s face it, it is a global phenomenon that could have some positive effects in our classes. Here are some easy-to-use ideas to spice up your classes by bringing up Pokemon into your class to create motivation and collaborative works among your students. All these resources here are not augmented virtual activities but easy activities made of paper or powerpoint! Because let’s face it: not all our students have access to the latest smart phones but EVERYONE should be given a chance to experiment some of the new phenomenon and to help you getting some idea here ow to use Pokemon go in the classroom.

The classroom Pokemon hunt

Print a set of Pokemon characters. Cut them out. At the back of each character, write a word related to the topic you are teaching. Fold the papers. Hide the papers in your classroom. Have the students to hunt the Pokemons! Once back to their seats they unfold the paper. They need to have their partner guess the word written at the back of the Pokemon by giving some definitions or synonyms. To make it more challenging you can also adapt this version with a taboo activity. It is fun, requires very little prep’ and it is a good warmer activity to review vocabulary.

The Treasure Pokemon hunt

Here’s a variation of the treasure hunt. It requires some preparation beforehand considering that hints/riddles are hidden on the school campus (or in the town if you are an adventurer). Prepare riddles based on your topic. Divide your class into teams. The key to these riddles should bring students to certain spots. Students need to work collaboratively to find the answers to the riddles. At each spot put a cuddly Pokemon toy and a new riddle. The team that has collected most toys wins!

The Pokemon Jeopardy quiz

Prepare a quiz for a Unit review in a jeopardy format. Divide your class in teams. Instead of money, offer Pokemon rewards. For each correct answer the team receives the Pokemon reward. It can be cuddly toys, pens, cards etc. anything related to the Pokemon mania! The quiz is organized in such a way that it is progressive. The easiest questions are at the top with the low-level Pokemons. The most difficult ones are at the bottom with high-level Pokemons.

Any more ideas? Are you a teacher and also a  trainer Pokemon go ? Let me know your though on this….