Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

What Did You Learn In 2009?


Last year, and in 2007,  I invited readers to share their thoughts for an annual January 1st post where people shared what they learned during the previous twelve months.

Many people responded, and I’m doing it again this year.

Feel free to write one-to-three things you feel you’ve learned this year in the comments section of this post.  I’m not going to give a specific restriction on their length, but please try to keep them short.   Please submit them by December 28th. I’ll leave them in moderation until I include them in a January 1st post.

Also, please include a short sentence you’d like me to use to describe you.

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. Hi, Larry

    Ingenious idea! I have learned so many things I couldn’t list now.
    Let’s focus on what I have learned from you and some other professionals and edubloggers. Apart from the actual things you guys all tweet and share in your blogs I have learned an important thing about cooperation. Namely that you can’t get very far without cooperation.
    This may not sound any new for you, but my case is somewhat special, as I live in a small Central European country, where we used to have a strange kind of political and social system. It was called socialism and it was based on the idea of sharing everything, cooperating, so everyone was supposed to put all they had and produced in a big hat and then the contents of the hat was to be shared equally, or based on the needs of everyone. This is of course just a rough description… So during the period of this system (about 40 years) the basic idea had changed a bit, and we ended up putting everything in the big hat, and some just took out much more than they would have deserved, others couldn’t take out anything. As a consequence, people had learned not to share, not to participate, and in general, cooperation had become something really suspicious. Although the mentioned political and social system died 20 years ago, people’s attitude to cooperation doesn’t seem to have changed. Now you can understand why it is so striking to me to learn what cooperation is. The only flaw is, at this stage of my using web 2.0 (being a ‘beginner user’) I am just someone who is just taking out of the big hat of edublogging, tweeting, etc. Now I want to participate too, I will put things into the ‘big hat’ as soon as I can.
    It is you who taught me the simple and well known fact that you cannot achieve your personal goals without sharing and cooperation. Of course I have known it before, but it’s this year that I ‘ve internalized it.

    Thank you.

    Barbara Bujtas,
    EFL teacher from Hungary

  2. I learned to be skeptical of those who say they “put the interest of children over adults.” If people were serious about that they’d pay a lot more attention to curriculum.

    I learned that we should be paying less attention to schools as the unit of improvement in reform and more attention to individual children.

    I’ve learned that we need to give low-SES parents the tools to be critical consumers of education. That will probably drive more change than any other innovation or policy prescription.

  3. One Very Happy Second Grade Teacher

    I’ve learned to reach outside the walls of my small school to find a community of like-minded educators. I’ve been connecting and learning via Twitter, and sharing resources with students, parents and educators through Delicious. This was the year my feelings of isolation ended!

  4. I learned that students have their own creative ideas about blogging and that teachers can learn a lot by giving them a space to voice their needs and opinions.

  5. Oops here’s my short sentence about me: A Canadian writer who challenges English learners on’s social network, MyEC.

  6. Larry,

    I learned — that I’m not needed ( and am still learning it so it goes into my bones). A few times this year, I was confronted with this fact, my own insignificance in the face of student curiosity and learning needs. I learned to get out of the way….

    What I mean is that my own job description is to write myself out of a job. The better I am as a teacher, the less I’m needed. If students really need me – I’m doing a damn poor job!

    Somehow this year, this has informed me and challenged me. I think this will be a future reality and reflection of many teachers.


  7. It took me longer than some, but I learned the power of the PLN. I do not have to wait for the traditional walls of isolation to come down, I have a whole universe of people on Twitter who are willing to collaborate 24-7. In addition I learned that I need to model clearly and consistently the expectations that I expect staff to have for students. My New Year’s wish is a PLN for every student and staff member!
    Patrick Larkin, Principal, Burlington High School (MA)

  8. Learned a lot about social networking, blogging etc; learned a bit more about motivating teachers (I hope); learned a few more people were friendly; learned a few harder life lessons; on the whole a good learning year.

  9. This year I learned how to use social media to build Personal Learning Networks and communities. I am blessed by my PLN everyday who support me, share resources, and inspire me to become a better educator and person.

    Shelly Terrell is an English language teacher and technology trainer based in Germany.

  10. In 2009, I learned that the internet is a vast and geeky well of wonder, and that much of it can inspire kids to express themselves. I love the way so many web 2.0 tools encourage us to communicate. At the end of the day, it is the conversations and the stories that we will remember, and they have the potential to change our lives.

    Susan Stephenson blogs at The Book Chook about her passions – children’s literacy and literature.

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