Let them be the Stars!! 30 Goals Virtual Road Trip: Portugal

Welcome! This year the 30 Goals Challenge for Educators is on a world tour and I am happy to be your Inspire Leader for this part of the journey. So where in the world is the 30 goals? We are visiting Porto, Portugal. I invite you to accomplish the following goal-  Let Them be the Stars!

To accomplish this goal:

Kids spent  most part of the day at school with us and after 20 years it still breaks my heart to see how unhappy some of them are, how unmotivated they feel by seeing his peers succeed and not being able to follow their example and show them they can also be good.

So why not help them expose their hidden talents before the class? Ways to do it? Not that difficult. I’ll start with two examples:

#1 14 years ago I had a little boy in a class in which the majority went just fine. He didn’t.  His grades were low in the majority of the subjects and to make matters worse his colleagues teased him the whole time because he was nervous, trembled and had a slight stutter. One day I noticed he liked to watch Formula One competitions and was a Ferrari fan. As I also watched, back in those days, I decided to ask him a few questions and we engaged in an interesting conversation that left the class mute. The guy was a connoisseur . From then on I always left 3m of my classes to let him SHINE and how well he did it! Fernando is now 28 and he phones me every month just to say hello and see how things are. He visited me at school for Christmas and brought me chocolates. I feel I didn’t do much. He probably feels he had that one chance to show that he was good at something which was absolutely true.

Goal: If ever you see there’s a student in need try to find what he is good at. It can be sport, cinema or music. Just make sure the others have the chance to understand that we can be good at other than Maths or English. That will make him more confident and increase his self-esteem and, many times, the grades improve as well.


# 2 Tatiana was a 14 year-old girl known for her quietness. She never spoke and when she did we could barely hear her. It was really hard to tell if she was following the lesson or not. Then one day I needed help to rehearse for the Xmas party we always have at school.  And that’s when she took the lead. It was hard to believe that that quiet little kitten could take a stand and lead the class. But she did. She took care of everything: the music, the costumes and the choreography. Taken out of the schoolish context she was a different girl. She had HER moment and being able to be the STAR showed everyone a new person. She was happy, I was happy and from then on she became a sort of artistic assistant to every event I had to take care of.

Goal: Take the students out of the school’s context and you’ll be surprised with their potential and knowledge. Engage in activities that allow them to show you their other side. You’ll see personality traits that were hidden before. It can be anything: organizing a school celebration, a field trip or using ICT. Just give them the chance of showing their ‘other selves’.

#3 Drama is an excellent way to bring students together, have fun and overcome some language issues. It works just fine with younger and older students. With the young ones have them  memorize a small dialogue from the course book, for example, and roleplay it in class. Some complain they can’t do it but end up loving it. For some of them those are actually the first sentences they utter in English! They may not be able to make a simple utterance but if they memorize them, they will. They will be the STARS!

Goal: Do this every now and then and be sure to continue the following lesson if not all have had the chance to perform (they will demand that anyway!) Let them use props if they want (they usually do) and you can be certain to have a good laugh with them. Having relaxed kids in class is half way to success.

#4 With older students I have another suggestion:  Assess their speaking skills and simultaneously let them be the STARS. For 10m they can talk about anything they want. They prepare their presentation at home and can use whatever multimedia they wish (powerpoint, prezi) if they wish. As they choose themes they’re usually good at they feel more motivated and at the same time impress their peers with the knowledge they have about a specific subject. I’ve had a bit of everything: bands, northern mythology, sport, literature, movies, etc. I’ve had a ballerina dancing to show how dancing shoes can damage your feet: a volunteer fireman who performed CPR with a test dummy; a musician who played the guitar. They never cease to surprise me and by also surprising their colleagues they gain their respect.

Goal: Provide individual time for them to exhibit their talents. You can use  it as a good assessment tool or just  give the class the opportunity to participate in a talent show! You’ll be amazed with the knowledge students have  about so many different things. It’s also a good opportunity for both you and the class to learn with them.

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My Reflection

I once watched a video by Jim Smith, in which he shows how we could divide our classes according to students’ abilities so that all have an opportunity to speak: ‘No hands up & no hiding’ . His proposal is to formulate the questions according to the group they belong to, so that they get a better chance to succeed.

Nothing new as we educators do it and mentally form groups according to

a) Students who like to interact the whole time (and sometimes have to be stopped)

b) Students who could interact but are too lazy to do it

c) Students who would like to raise the hand but are too shy

d) Students who, despite not being shy, are not confident enough to do it

e) Students who can’t do it because they are less able than the majority.

(This list could still go on but I guess I have enough to focus on) So far nothing new.

The interesting fact is that the author did it in a peculiar way, as a passionate for all that’s digital he made this division according to various devices. As so, he would have the iPads (most able) the iPhones (less able) the iPods (the least able) and something in between like the iPhone 5, etc, etc. (Disclaimer: I am not engaged in APPLE publicity campaigns…).

Well, Let them be the Stars is specially aimed at  another category of students who could be included in the list above as a mixture of c), d) with a special stress on e).

These students can be well behaved, persistent and hardworkers (never miss homework, no matter how wrong it may be; bring everything the teachers ask them to bring; follow the rules and stick to the book) but they don’t seem to have what it’s needed to succeed.

At least not what the schooling system assesses.

And this is my point. If school can not recognise other abilities because this is the way the system works, maybe we can give them a hand  and make them a bit happier! 🙂

About Porto, Portugal

This stop is in Portugal and as I am from Porto here’s what I came up with:

Thank you for dropping by! I hope you enjoyed your visit.

Find out more about The 30 Goals Challenge for Educators at 30Goals.com and join our 30 Goals Facebook community!


7 thoughts on “Let them be the Stars!! 30 Goals Virtual Road Trip: Portugal

  1. Pingback: 30 Goals for 2014 #30goals #motivation #goals #teachers #education | A Listly List

  2. Hi, Cristina.

    Thanks for this insightful post swarming with practical ideas. You are a wonderful, compassionate teacher totally aware of her individual students’ needs. And thanks for the link to John Smith’s video – another great idea worth piloting in my class. It amazes me that there are so many interesting people with so many interesting ideas that I’ve never heard of and I’m really grateful that I have the chance to I keep discovering them via my PLN.



  3. Thank u Cristina for such a wonderful article. I couldn’t stop reading once i started. Yet it came to an end to leave me looking for more. I can’t help but agree with Hana in thanking u for ‘the insightful post and for being such a wonderful ‘compassionate’ teacher!! :)))


  4. Pingback: Letting Them Be Experts : English Advantage

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