By Dorothy Zemach
ESL Materials Writer, Editor, Teacher Trainer
Email: zemach at comcast dot net
You may be wondering why that title is important.
I know I am.
And I wrote it.
I found this gem of wisdom in a stack of old conference papers. A quick audience survey—how many teachers (and students) out there have that same stack of old conference papers? You know—handouts and notes you took at sessions at local, state, national, and international conferences. Yours might not be piled in a stack on the floor between two bookcases, like mine (which is not a system I recommend); perhaps yours are in the bottom of a box, or tucked inside folders and filed in a cabinet, or perhaps they’re in notebooks on your shelves.
But I bet you have them. Handouts, often on sheets of brightly colored paper so you’ll (in theory) notice them more. Sheets of loose-leaf paper with your careful outlines at the top, then the notes you wrote to the person sitting next to you halfway down, and finally at the bottom some doodles that might be flowers. Some brochures might be in there, too, for new (at the time) textbooks and CDs, exciting grant opportunities, volunteer teaching abroad programs.
How many years do your stacks go back? Mine aren’t too bad, if only because I moved around a lot, often from country to country, so I could thin things out each time I had to pay to ship my worldly possessions.
But I still have them. A few years ago I got inspired (if you want to call it that) and sorted many of them by subject area; so now I have a folder called “Reading,” and another called “Culture,” and another called “Grammar,” and so on. These are then carefully arranged in a file cabinet drawer. And I go through those folders just as often as go the stack on the floor between the bookshelves.
Which is to say, never.
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