Update Frequency Poll Results

poll results

A big thank you to everyone who participated in the update frequency poll this week. The results were fairly conclusive:

Every day 0 0%
Five times a week 0 0%
Three times a week 2 17%
Twice a week 4 33%
Once a week 2 17%
Other 4 33%

The ‘other’ responses were basically ‘whenever you like’, ‘weekly or fortnightly’, and ‘when you have something to say’ 🙂

I am going to move to a twice a week schedule with the blog, attempting to write something meaningful on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Wish me luck!

28 Aug 2013, 2:03pm
Admin blogging

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Update frequency poll preliminary results

ballot box

Well, so far the poll seems to be indicating a preference for less frequent updates. Please click through and answer it if you haven’t already. I’ll close it and post results on Friday.

How much do you want it?


This post came out of a conversation I had on Facebook with my friend Mark. It reminded me of something I believe, and showed me how it applied to various different aspects of life in the same way.

We were talking about financial independence (which I define as not having to work for money because your basic needs are met by passive income) and it struck me that this is almost exactly the same as English ability.

Pretty much everyone I know would like to be good at English. If I could give them a magic pill (or upload it to their brain, a la Matrix) not one of them would turn it down. How to actually get good at English is not really a secret, either. Do a lot of reading and listening in English, speak as much as possible, and after enough practice you will be fairly competent. The thing is, few people are willing to put in the time and effort to do this.

Much like financial independence, which comes from spending less than you make and investing the difference. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t want to be financially independent, either.

As a teacher, this is kind of tough for me.

I am not going to make much difference here. All my students want to be good at English, and most of them know what they should be doing to get there. They just aren’t motivated enough.

So I guess my job is to cajole, persuade, inform, and support. Maybe I can get a few more people to take the red pill 🙂


26 Aug 2013, 5:06pm
Admin blogging expectations

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Update frequency poll

Hi everyone

A bit of housekeeping today. I’d like to figure out what my audience would like from the blog. My posting schedule varies from every day when I am feeling productive, all the way down to not posting for several weeks or months.

One thing I have noticed is that I get a lot more traffic when I post every day.

However, in my own blog-reading habits, I don’t normally want to see daily updates (I find they clog my inbox and rss reader). I much prefer a one to three posts a week schedule for almost all blogs I follow.

Of course, this blog is not all about me, but rather you, loyal readers. How frequently would you like to see new posts from me? I’d be really grateful if you could answer the poll below (just choose one of the options and click ‘submit’).

Eikaiwa School Field Trips: Summer at the Zoo

yagiyama zoo

Every year we organize some kind of optional summer event for our students. Past events have included ice skating (feels weird to put on sweaters and gloves in August!), outdoor games, playing in a river, and trips to the seaside. This year we decided to go to Yagiyama Zoo in Sendai with our preschool- and elementary school-aged students.

Before the trip we visited the zoo to plan out routes and activities, bought small sketchbooks for all the students, divided them into groups and assigned teachers to lead each group.

There was a slight problem with the timing of the announcement coinciding with the school being closed for some classes, so that some parents only got the announcement letter after the trip was full! We did our best to accommodate them which led to us needing a larger bus and the groups getting a bit too big for the number of teachers we had (several were away due to the summer holidays).

Then the day before the excursion the weather reports changed from sunny with cloudy spells to rain (60%). Then that evening rain (70%). The next morning the ground was wet when we woke up at six am, but by seven it was raining. By eight thirty (the deadline for making a decision) it was raining heavily.

Fortunately we had a plan B. We had made arrangements to go to the aquarium at Matsushima in the event of rain. This was not ideal, but preferable to cancelling and being out of pocket for the bus hire and other expenses.

The problem with the aquarium is that we hadn’t had time to visit and make plans. It was also much more expensive than the zoo, and smaller. We weren’t sure if there was enough to do there for the four hours we had planned.

Lessons Learned

We learned a lot from this year’s trip. Here are some of the most important things:

1. Having a plan B is essential if weather could impact on your trip. What were the chances of the only rainy day for weeks and weeks being the day we were going to the zoo? Because we had a plan B and had told the students and parents about it our trip wasn’t ruined. However, we should have put more time into getting ready for plan B.

2. Accurately estimating demand, making sure the sign-up process is fair to everyone, and sticking to deadlines and limits on numbers of students is important. We didn’t have any major problems this time, but the large numbers of students made things more difficult for our teachers (I found myself supervising sixteen young children for much of the day, and it was too many for comfort).

3. The number of seats quoted by bus companies include those fold-down seats in the middle. I don’t like them because they are uncomfortable, seem less safe, and mean that it is not possible for teachers to move around the bus when they are in use. In the future, I would like to make sure all the students have a proper seat, with only teachers in the middle seats if necessary.


In the end the trip turned out well. The aquarium had just enough to keep us busy (looking at the fish, drawing pictures, watching the sealion show, shaking hands with a sealion, meeting baby turtles, wading in a big pool, etc.). It was also great that they had a large seating area that wasn’t at all busy, so we could sit the students down in groups and talk to them, have them draw pictures, and eat lunch in an orderly fashion.

I think we were both unlucky (the weather) and lucky (everything turned out fine and the students enjoyed themselves). We also got a few insights for next year.

Does anyone else do field trips?

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