2012 in review

December 31, 2012

Here’s the 2012 annual report for my blog, prepared by the WordPress.com stats helper monkeys. Thank you to YOU, those who read, like and comment on the posts.  Here’s to another great year of blogging in 2013.

Here’s an excerpt:

About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 200,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 4 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe!

Click here to see the complete report.


The Administration of English as a Second Language (ESL) Programs: Striking the Balance Between Generating Revenue and Serving Students

December 30, 2012

Critical Perspectives on International Education Sarah EatonI am squealing with joy to share this news with you. Four years ago, Dr. Yvonne Hébert, a professor of Education at the University of Calgary invited me to submit a chapter for a book she was co-editing with her colleague, Dr. Ali Abdi.

I submitted a chapter that focused on the difficulties managers of ESL / EFL programs face when it comes to the pressures they face to generate revenue for their institutions and focussing on students’ learning.

You would think that an administrator’s first priority should be to serve students. Morally and ethically that may be true. In terms of practicalities, the reality can be quite different. Many program administrators face great pressure to “put bums in seats”. This chapter addresses some of those difficulties.

“The Administration of English as a Second Language (ESL) Programs in Higher Education: Striking the Balance Between Generating Revenue and Serving Students” (pages 149-162) is my contribution to the new book called Critical Perspectives on International Education that has just been published by Sense publishers in Rotterdam.

The book is now available in paperback and hardcover:

ISBN Paperback: 9789460919046 ($ 49.00)
ISBN Hardcover: 9789460919053 ($ 99.00)

It may also become available as an e-book in 2013.

There has been so little published about the difficulties that English language program leaders face in terms of the moral, ethical and business decisions they must make every day in their administrative roles. More conversations and dialogue need to happen to help managers and directors make wise decisions.


If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or leave a comment. Thanks!

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If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.

5 Easy Christmas Blogging Ideas for Literacy and Language Teachers

December 5, 2012

With Christmas right around the corner, teachers are scrambling to finish up the semester before the holidays. If you are a blogger, you probably do not have much time for your blog at the moment. Here are five easy ideas to keep you blogging through this busy time of year:

1. A guide to Christmas away from home

Do you have students from other countries who are missing their family and friends back home? Write a post with your top suggestions on how to survive the holidays away from home.

2. Local Christmas traditions and events

Many areas have special events such as craft fairs, light displays or free ice skating to celebrate the holidays. Tap into your local community to find out what is going on. Write a post that highlights some free or low-cost options for your students and their families.

3. Christmas crafts for young and old

Believe it or not, doing crafts can be an excellent way to build literacy and language skills. You must read instructions, follow directions and use a step-by-step method to complete a task.

Create a post with links to simple crafts that are appropriate for the ages and language proficiency of the group you teach. A link to a YouTube video is always a great idea.

4. Christmas carols for language learning

Sarah Eaton blog photoAs children we learn Christmas carols without really thinking about the words. What does it mean to “deck the halls with boughs of holly”, anyway? If you live in an area where holly does not grow then you may have never seen real holly.

Write a blog post that de-mystifies some of the language and phrases in common Christmas songs.

5. Multicultural Christmas traditions

When I was a teenager my Mom befriended a lady from El Salvador. That first Christmas we exchanged stories about our different Christmas traditions. Marta told us that setting off fireworks after their turkey dinner was part of their tradition. We had a wonderful conversation as we learned about what the similarities and differences were between our two cultures.

Write a blog post that highlights some of the traditions of your students, friends or family members.

Christmas time is one of the busiest times of the year for many people. Keep your blog posts simple and light during this time of year. Focus on joy and sharing and you’ll continue to enjoy your own blogging through the holiday season.


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If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.

How to tell if your child is being cyber-bullied

November 19, 2012

In 2012, in British Columbia, Canada, a 15-year old girl named Amanda Todd killed herself. The reason: cyberbullying.

The case has brought to light the devastating effects that cyberbullying can have on a person. Todd’s death has affected Canadians immediately and deeply. Parents are suddenly asking themselves: Is my child being cyber-bullied? How would I know?

Sarah Eaton's education blogStopBullying.gov (a U.S. website) says warning signs that your child may be the victim of face-to-face or any type bullying include:

  • Unexplainable injuries
  • Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry.
  • Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness.
  • Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating. Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch.
  • Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares.
  • Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school.
  • Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations.
  • Feelings of helplessness or decreased self esteem.
  • Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide.

The Cyberbullying Research Centre says that 1o% to 40% of youth may be the victim of cyberbullying. They add to the list of warning signs by zooming in on key indicators that make cyberbullying different from other kinds of bullying:

Signs your child is the victim of cyberbullying

Your child may be the victim of cyberbullying if he or she:

  • unexpectedly stops using their computer or cell phone.
  • appears nervous or jumpy when an instant message or email appears.
  • appears uneasy about going to school or outside in general.
  • appears to be angry, depressed, or frustrated after using the computer or cell phone.
  • avoids discussions about what they are doing on the computer or cell phone.
  • or becomes abnormally withdrawn from usual friends and family members.

The Cyberbullying Research Centre offers numerous free resources for parents, children and teachers to help you stay safe online, including this awesome cyberbullying prevention tip sheet for teens.

Cyberbulling is a real phenomenon that affects tens of thousands of children (and adults) around the world on a daily basis. I am not an expert in this area, but I firmly believe that every person deserves love, respect and safety. Deepest condolences to the family of Amanda Todd.


Amercian Humane Association. (n.d.). Cyber Bullying Prevention and Intervention.   Retrieved November 19, 2012, from http://www.americanhumane.org/children/stop-child-abuse/fact-sheets/cyber-bullying-prevention-and-intervention.html

Hinduja, S., & Patchin, J. W. (n.d.). Cyberbulling: Indentification, prevention and response. Retrieved from http://www.cyberbullying.us/Cyberbullying_Identification_Prevention_Response_Fact_Sheet.pdf

StopBullying.gov. (n.d.). Warning signs.   Retrieved 2012, 2012, from http://www.stopbullying.gov/at-risk/warning-signs/index.html#bullying


This is the first in a series of posts on cyberbulling. Check out these related posts:

5 Signs your child is a cyberbully http://wp.me/pNAh3-1AM


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This blog has had over 1.5 Million views thanks to readers like you. If you found this post helpful, please like it or share it on social media.

What makes a good research question?

November 6, 2012

This week I posed a question to my students: What makes a good research question?

As Masters of Education students, they are learning about what it means to be a researcher and building a foundation of knowledge. They came up with some great resources this week. If you are looking for answers to this question, check out these great resources:

Sarah Eaton blog leadershipSonia Ospina’s entry in the Encyclopedia of Leadership on Qualitative Research

This is a 13-page document, available free in .pdf format. Published in 2004, this text shares some of the fundamentals of qualitative research, particularly as it pertains to leadership. It is also very useful for students and researchers working in education and other social sciences. It contains an extensive bibliography that serves as a great point of departure for more exploration. Link for this resource: http://ualr.edu/interdisciplinary/files/2010/03/Qualitative_Research.pdf

Sarah Eaton blogJudith Haber’s chapter called “Research Questions, Hypotheses and Clinical Questions”

Though marked as “Sample – Not final” with a watermark on the .pdf, this is an incredible 29-page resource that includes flow charts and tables of information. It is easy to understand and written in language that most novice researchers could understand. This one quickly became a favorite because it was colorful and concise. Even though it appears to be written for students and practitioners of health research, there are many elements that may be useful to educators and social science researchers, too. Link for this resource: http://www.us.elsevierhealth.com/media/us/samplechapters/9780323057431/Chapter%2002.pdf

Companion for Undergraduate Research

This is a website (http://www.socscidiss.bham.ac.uk/) that outlines the characteristics of a good research question. Then it talks about each characteristic in detail. It is written in clear language and is very well organized. The page also contains links to other helpful resources on research.

Figuring out how to craft a research question can be tricky. Resources like these help to demystify the process.


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Update – April, 2017 – This blog has had over 1.5 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

We have power

November 1, 2012

Sarah Eaton, blog, leadershipI don’t normally share things I find on Facebook on my blog, but this one touched me in a deep way. This photo was posted today. with the caption “Recently seen in Hoboken, New Jersey.”  That area is among those devastated by “Frankenstorm”. If you can’t read the sign attached to the fence in the photo, it says, “We have power. Feel free to charge your phone.”

You can see the power bar and extension cord coming from the residence. You can also see people gathered around, with mobile phones plugged into the power bar, so they can charge their devices. Once charged, the phones can be used to communicate family and loved ones who are far away, or even those who are close by.

This is an excellent example of people in communities coming together to help one another. It is a simple, small gesture of generosity can can ripple across continents, as loved ones far away can receive a message that says, “We are safe.”

The line on the sign “We have power” means so much more than “We have electricity”.

When we help others, we always have power.


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If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.

Is your research biased? Answer: Yes. (Here’s why.)

October 29, 2012

Sarah Eaton blog technology researchThis semester I am teaching a course on Research Methodology in Education. One of the topics that has come up is bias in our research

Bias is present is bascially every research study. Even though we strive to be objective — and that is part of our work, we nevertheless start with a set of values, beliefs and philosophies that shape our opinions and world view.  It is important for reasearchers to understand the biases they bring to their work and to acknowledge them.

For example, one of my biases is that I hold is that everyone is capable of learning. Not everyone is capable of earning a Ph.D. (for any number of reasons), but everyone is capable of learning something. This is one of my values and beliefs that shapes my work. If I am an honest researcher, I must declare and acknowlege that bias when I do research. It is one thing to have and acknowledge bias. It is an entirely different matter to purposely bias our research in favor of a particular outcome or do research just to prove a point.

There are two ways to approach research:

Approach #1 – Conduct research in a manner that supports your argument

The first is to start with an argument or a position and conduct research and find literature that supports your point of view.

Though some scholars might disagree, I would submit that is an undesirable starting position. The reason is that you are likely to skew either your research or your results so they fit with your argument. Forcing results to fit to a pre-determined argument may be considered unethical. For example, pharmaceutical companies that conduct drug tests in order to prove the drug is safe and refuse to release research that may contradict that starting point are harshly criticized. Such research is not considered believable because it is skewed.

Approach #2 – Start with a research question, hypothesis or topic. Conduct your research in a manner that seeks to answer a question.

The second way to approach you research is to begin with a problem you want to solve or a question you want to answer. Then, you conduct your research in a manner that seeks to answer your research question. Once you have conducted your research, your argument emerges from your data.

The data is the information that you gather that allows you develop a cogent argument to persuade others. You can gather primary data (e.g. interviews) or secondary data (e.g. literature review).

Part of a research study almost always involves a review of previous literature written on the topic you are studying. In your literature review, it is valuable to cite opposing views. Once you have considered your question or problem from a variety of angles, then you can begin to develop an argument, based on your findings. Considering a variety of viewpoints is highly desirable as it demonstrates that you are not attempting to skew your results in favor of a pre-determined outcome.

Be aware that just because you start your research with a particular question or topic, it is unwise to assume that your starting position is the correct one. Be curious, rather than dogmatic. What themes emerge from the literature that you surveyed? What surprised you? What arguments can be made? What conclusions can be drawn?

In my own research, it has happened to me that I start with a research question, problem or hypothesis and as I surveyed the literature, my hypothesis was proven to be incorrect. Be prepared for that to happen. It does not mean you are a bad researcher. Quite the contrary, it means you have allowed your hypothesis or question to be challenged and your research is driven by the data you find.

We may come to our work with a bias. But ultimately, the research needs to speak for itself. That’s what makes it credible.


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If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.

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