Using Mnemonics for Self-Reflection

Mnemonic /nɪˈmɒnɪk/ is a word of Greek origin, which basically means a learning technique, a trick like a poem or a sentence, or visual aid that can help you organise, retain and remember information, such as a rule, a sequence or just a name, by retrieving it without a delay.

As a teacher trainer I have to give hints and show quite a range of formulas to help my trainees remember the basic principles of teaching and also some ways to evaluate their performance in a balanced way. One of my favourite rules is BACK, which I’ve been using as Bin-Add-Change-Keep for a few years. It’s a shame I cannot remember where it comes from (I’ve always been bad at note taking!). Anyway, this abbreviation helps teachers focus on positive features, notice something that need to be changed and critically evaluate lessons. It is a very effective feedback technique.

I started thinking we can use this method for evaluating something else. For example, you can ask your students comment on their preferences and collect information about the lessons or activities that they like or dislike.

I’m working on improving my time management skills as it only seems that I do one thing at a time but in fact there is an overlap between my CELTA days and teaching or some other events that I have to deliver so I decided to use this mnemonic to reflect on my typical week. Here is something I want to share with you to demonstrate how it may work.

I’d prefer to run only one CELTA course at a time as it is very intense and demanding. I’d definitely get rid of the second course and some extra work that I don’t like doing or not get properly paid for. It’d be awesome if I could teach only bright students who inspire me to create interesting lessons for them. I’m not sure it’s always possible though.

I’d definitely add some other workshops and trainings I used to deliver as I miss seminars on methodology, language awareness, exams and teaching young learners. I’d probably add some more teaching but I’m afraid that does seem impossible.

Although I like both offline and online courses, it’s safer to work in the comfort of my own home now. That would allow me to go back to live in the country and I wouldn’t have to commute to the centre twice a week, wear masks and think about shopping in Moscow.

I really enjoy the range of courses I run. I love all my students of different age groups and levels. My trainees are fantastic. I’ve ALWAYS been SO lucky. I have no intention of leaving teaching or teacher training any time soon.

Any comments? What other uses of this mnemonic can you suggest?