Sharing, losing, gaining…. What’s your take?

Do I lose anything by sharing this photo with you?



The best translation to sharing in Portuguese is “compartilhar”. Despite my knowing this for a fact, I don’t like it. Just as in many other situations when you’re trying to translate / convey a message exactly the same way in two different languages – translation can be quite a challenging task. Why am I not satisfied? I don’t think “compartilhar” covers the entire scope of meaning that sharing encompasses.

For me, sharing is an innate quality in teachers. As a person whose goal is to see others learn and use that learning to better their lives, I am always happy to see learning taking place, whether in my students or anywhere else around me. And I think sharing goes hand in hand with that feeling. I also believe many of my teacher friends think the same way.

What does sharing mean to you? How do you share? Who do you share with? Professionally speaking, for a teacher sharing mostly means spreading the word about new resources or tools you’ve found. It means telling other teachers – who may work in the same school as you or not – about activities and things you’ve done in class that worked really well, giving them material you’ve prepared, discussed things that went wrong when doing a specific activity – so as to keep other teachers from having the same problem. It means talking about difficulties you have in class with your peers and maybe get some advice or just some moral support.

But why share? What do you get when you share?


Well, for starters, you don’t lose anything – in my humble opinion. A friend once told me that a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle. She used it as an analogy for teacher sharing, professional sharing. Some people might disagree and say that when you are a teacher (or a lecturer, a presenter) that may not be entirely true. Some might feel uncertain about sharing ideas, activities or materials because they feel these are an “edge” they have, something that makes them stand out in the crowd of teachers. Or maybe they have had their ideas taken over and somebody else take ownership of them, claiming to have created them We all know this is a reality in our world, only made easier with internet and the advancement of technology. And anyone who prefers not to share, or saves a couple of “special” ideas here and there – hey, nothing wrong with that! I have kept one or two things out of my “sharing pool” eventually, because it was something I’d be presenting at a conference, or entering in a competition of some sort.

But mostly, I’m a sharer. I love doing it. And it’s not only because I learn things from what the others share. Teachers are not like that, the If-you-want-to-get-some-you-gotta-give-some-in-return type (am I being naïve? Maybe…). So why do I share? Because if something worked well and helped me have a fabulous lesson I want other teachers to have an equally fabulous lesson. Because one of these teachers that I share my idea with may have an insight and make it even better, take it a step further. Because it’s in my nature. And I love nothing by doing it – I only gain.

What about you? Why do YOU share (or not)? Share your thoughts!

23 comments on “Sharing, losing, gaining…. What’s your take?

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Shelly S Terrell and Cecilia Lemos Coelho. Cecilia Lemos Coelho said: Finally!!! First post of the year: Sharing, losing, gaining…. What’s your take? – Sorry about taking so long people! […]

  2. seburnt says:

    A very important concept in our community, Cecilia – sharing! It seems so obvious for teachers since we share knowledge with students and collaborate with them to facilitate learning yet still we can often be possessive when it comes to colleagues. If only praise and money weren’t such necessary factors in life…

    I’ve always loathed that possessive attitude among my peers and try very hard to be one of those that combat it. Teaching should be a communal effort and we all need to help each other for the greater benefit of students.

    Anyways, rant over. :)

    • Rant completely understandable Tyson… I too try to caombat it, but sometimes it just seems a bit hopeless. But we keep on, cause what are we going to do, stop sharing??? We just have to keep on trying to show the people we work with how great sharing is and how everyone benefits from it.

      And you touched a point which I absolutely agree with: our whole profession is based in sharing our (greater? better?) knowledge of English with our students…so why should sharing be a strange concept to some of us?

      • seburnt says:

        Well, if work rewards come as a result of popularity among students or high evaluations, then the desire to share your ideas and your material with colleagues can be severely lessened–a very unfortunate relationship. Also, many teachers put in so much of their efforts on their own time, they feel that they should be able to hoard their material for their own classes, rather than give it to someone who does only what they need to to coast through the day.

        Many times I’ve just put some handouts I’ve made on the teachers’ room table and colleagues have said, ‘you should put your name on that so that you get credit for making it.’ I say, ‘It’s ok.’ I actually get a good feeling by seeing someone else photocopying it not knowing I made it. That tells me it’s good. I’ve found handouts I’ve made show up in the most unlikely places.

        Thankfully, my current context is made up of 5 teachers who all collaborate together on every day’s lessons and share everything we’ve made with each other and it’s all because we each create and we each share.
        Credit or not, sharing resources is essential.

      • Why would rewards such as the ones you mentioned lessen the sharing??? I believe your popularity would still be high even if the teacher next-door was using the same activities you do…. But I see your point, and I see it happening only too often. One of the reasons I give “public” feedback when I use some other teacher’s acitvity and it works great – to let others know sharing is good for everybody. I believe it lessens the sensation of losing sharing might bring, and tilt the scales to the side I favor.

        As for not putting your name…well, I think credit should be given. I agree with your “good feeling” reasoning, but I think there should be more. Not everyone is like you and I Tyson… thankfully, as you, I work in an extremely sharing-friendly environment, and I think all (or at least great majority) of teachers at my school enjoy and see the benefits of sharing…

        Cheers –


      • seburnt says:

        Well, many of my former colleagues didn’t think if we used the same activity (that they created), that their effort would still be noticed and reward given.

        As for putting my name on things I make, when it’s for complete strangers, like those in workshops I lead who download my materials from Coursetree, then yes, I like to have my name on it (not that that’s not easily deleted from the handout with a pair of scissors or apt Office skills). But when it’s among colleagues that all put in the same amount of effort, the credit is given internally. Fair enough for me.

        And finally, it’s too bad more teachers aren’t like us, Cecilia. ;) Thankfully, there’s a bunch out here in blogosphere.

      • I guess some people see things differently. If a colleague uses one of my activities, that in itself is already a reward for me, a recognition of my work, of them finding it good. As for putting names in materials… yes, I see what you mean, any way we do it is easily undone / taken out. But I think we should always do it nonetheless. And I’m not sure I think this way only for being given credit. Authors have theirs names in books and articles, that should be cited and made reference to when used totally or partially. Why should it be any different with materials we use in/outside the classroom?

        And yes… it’s fantastic to be surrounded by great teachers like we are in the blogosphere/twitterverse. I consider myself lucky. :-)

  3. Sandy Millin says:

    Hi Cecilia,
    I agree that sharing should be a key part of our job. I’m lucky to work at a school where we are all quite happy to do so. Unfortunately for some of my freelancing colleagues they also work at other schools where not only is there no sharing, there is also no support and virtually no communication between the teachers. Not something I envy them for at all.
    I think the only thing you’ve not mentioned sharing is our passion – both for teaching and English. IMHO this is something which is vital to a good teacher – both your students and your colleagues can feel the difference that working with a passionate, enthusiastic teacher makes, even if they don’t always realise it. You definitely come across as one of these passionate teachers!
    Thanks again for this post!

    • Hi Sandy,

      Thanks for your lovely comments! And yes, you’re right, I forgot to mention passion which does seem to make a difference. Passion can be a bit contagious, don’t you think? And I am very passionate about what I do, but so are you. To be honest, something I came to realize after I joined the world of virtual PD is that all the people I’ve come across in it can be described as passionate – I think I see a pattern. Passionate teachers are always real teachers (re to Jason’s comment), love to share and are always eager to find and learn new ways of doing things better.


  4. I might go out on a limb here, Cecilia, and say that what you’ve raised here is possibly (for me, at any rate) one of a set of very simple criteria that helps to distinguish “real” teachers from “pretend” ones.

    Real teachers share, want to share, love to share, can’t help but share!

    • Hi Jason,

      I see no limb. You’re very right in what you said, sharing does seem to be an innate quality of “real” teachers. It’s a shame they are not the only kind we can find around the world. And it’s a great thing (and very fortunate for us) to see there are more than plenty of those around the blogosphere and the PLN. Is it utopic of me to wonder if we could maybe “infect” the ones who wouldn’t be categorized as “real” teachers straight away by our passion (as Sandy mentioned)? Can a “pretend” teacher become a “real” one?



      • I don’t think it is utopic at all to aspire such a cause!

        In all honesty, I think a lot of it comes down to example-setting and leadership/management. A lot of teachers “learn” to not share because they don’t see examples of this happening around them.

        I think experienced teachers in the staffroom can have a big impact by not only casually sharing what they’re doing/using/learning, but also showing interest in what the less experienced teachers are (also) doing/using/learning, being careful not to take on an aloof or automatically critical tone. As a young/newbie teacher, it can be incredibly motivating to hear that an idea you’ve had is original, interesting or resonates with the findings of a more experienced teacher. Herein are seeds of sharing sown…

        But also at management level, I think PD needs to be regular, and emphasise sharing as much as anything else. A teacher development program that lays a big emphasis on swap-shop sharing amongst the team can create the sparks of sharing where time and shyness may at times work against it in the staffroom, but it also provides very important recognition that a teacher’s ideas and experiences are worthwhile.


        – J

      • Couldn’t agree more Jason. Management in my school has realized that and give a lot of incentive for teachers to share, creating opportunities, technology to make it easier, etc. And recently they’ve even created an award given annualy, “ABA Creativity” in which teachers submit ideas / lessons / activities they created and 20 or 30 are selected and presented to all the teachers. We are always filled with great ideas after these sessions.

        As for setting examples and “infecting”other with the sharing bug… I believe in what you said, but I’m not totally sold on it. I’ve seen it not work one too many times. The impression I get is that yes, it can work and “convert” some lost souls (;-P hehehe) but the effort seems to bounce on and go completely unnoticed in others. Maybe it is a bit of what you said about being pretend/real teachers… Always worth a try though.


  5. DaveDodgson says:

    Hi Cecilia,

    Good to have you back blogging. :)

    I would say sharing should be innate for teachers but unfortunately it often isn’t. Many times in my career, I’ve seen teachers over proctective of ‘their’ materials as well as others who are always asking ‘have you got anything for (lesson x)?’ without ever contributing in return.

    Rather than materials, I prefer to share ideas these days (which is one of my main reasons for blogging). This is not without its issues, however. I’ve often been met with disappointed looks as I explain what I do for a particular topic or style of lesson building on the content the students give mea dn the realisation dawns that there’s no photocopiable worksheet or plan to go with it.

    I did also get put off sharing ideas a bit last year due to some misrepresentation. Faced with a pile of 5 different worksheet activities (and realising language contained on them would be on an upcoming test), I set the students up to work in groups and asked them to choose the worksheet they wanted to start with, work though it together and call on me if they needed any help before moving on to the next one. It worked really well as they collborated nicely and managed to do their work without over-relying on me for help and direction. I duly discussed this way of doing things with some colleagues and they seemed receptive. However, I was later called into my Head of Department’s office as she had been informed that I was merely chucking worksheets at students and saying with no instructions ‘do that’.

    Praise be for the blogosphere where ideas can be shared and discussed without such issues and those after a ‘quick fix’ can take what they need and quietly move on. :p

    Sorry for a bit of a negative rant but I sometimes despair at the attitudes of some teachers! Personally, I’m all for sharing and collaborating though. :)

    • seburnt says:

      Too bad RE the call into the HoD’s office, Dave. Obviously whoever ‘ratted’ you out clearly didn’t understand what you were doing or why you were doing it. Some colleagues definitely don’t get it.

      • The thing is, if they don’t get it they should ask and keep it to themselves, not make the other look bad. And I’m not saying this to you Tyson – I know you know. Just ranting, I guess. :-)

      • seburnt says:

        I totally understand what you mean, Cecilia. That’s what they should do, but many are just too excited to rat on others because of their own insecurities.

    • Hi Dave,

      It’s great to be back! I’ve actuall made a resolution to try to blog more often, let’s see if I am able to stick to it!

      I think anybody who’s been teaching for a reasonable time has come across many of the teachers who are protective about their materials but give nothing in return that you mentioned. I believe this has to do with what Jason said about “real” and “pretend” teachers. And of course it would be much nicer if we worked around more of the first kind. Working in such environment fosters creativity and collaboration, it’s fertile ground for even better ideas (two or three heads usually think better than one), better lessons, less work (maybe?!?!) and definitely a more enjoyable work routine. Sadly, the world is never the way we’d like it to be.

      But most of the time I am not as put off by those non-sharing teachers – I honestly think it’s their loss. I am, however, extremely upset when I see these teachers, the ones who protect their own work fiercely, get out of their way to hurt someone who does (re what happened to you that got you called to the Head’s office to be reprimanded). What do they gain from it??? Can’t they see that a teacher having good, creative ideas and standing out does not mean he’s better than the others, that it’s not putting the others down. Sharing is something that doesn’t put anybody down – just brings bring up together! What’s even more upsetting is when this negative attitude is not seen by the admin / coordination. I’m sorry it happened to you Dave, but do not let it get in the way of your sharing nature! :-) And don’t apologize for ranting – this is a ranting-friendly zone!

      Praise to the blogosphere indeed, where we are surrounded by the sharing, passionate teachers of the PLN!
      Cheers :-)


      • DaveDodgson says:

        To finish the story, my HoD listened to what I had to say, said of course she trusts me to always have a sound reason for doing something but finished by reminding me that sadly some others will never ‘get it’ and we should be careful of what they say and to whom they say it… I guess such people can be encountered in any workplace..

        And another jet of steam from the rant – those ‘pretend’ teachers also seem to get apprehensive by other people’s good ideas, extra efforts and hard work because they worry they might end up having to do some of that hard work as well! Go get a job somewhere else then!!

        I should point out though that most of the people I work with are lovely and genuinely good teachers who care about their jobs. As ever, just 1 or 2 can spoil it… (same as kids in my classes actually ;))

  6. @piresslucas says:

    You when sometimes we try to express something but just can’t find the words? You just did for me… For a year now I’ve been trying to explain to the people around me what is changing my mind, what is going on that encourages a young man into giving up engeneering to be a teacher… You did explain. I just can’t keep everything to myself! I keep some of course, secrets and some research results, but It feels good when I stand in fornt of/ sit down with people and I can see they learned something… anything… I gues now I can share this post with anyone that asks me why I want to become a teacher…
    Thanks for this post,
    Lucas Pires

    • Hi Lucas :-)

      Really glad I voiced something you had inside you… that’s passion for teaching. And as Jason said, real teachers can’t help but share, it’s stronger than us :-) Thanks for making me smile with your comment.


  7. […] post by Cecilia Lemos var addthis_language = 'en'; Filed under Uncategorized ← Απόκτηση […]

  8. […] is an essential part of a teacher’s life (you can read more about my views on sharing in this post I wrote about it). Besides, Berni and her family have a heart of gold. I learned a lot that week. […]

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