Tuesday, January 10, 2012

January 9, 2012

January 9, 2012

First day of classes. I teach from 2:30 to 8:30, but I’m observing two classes this morning, one at 8:30 and the other at 10. It will be a long-ish day, I’m thinking. Right now, I’m going back and forth between feeling nervous and feeling excited. I both hate and love teaching. It’s not really a job; it’s more an emotional rollercoaster. I wonder if one day it will become a job. I wonder if that’s really a desirable thing. If I’m alert and awake in the classroom, the experience can be so dynamic. If not, well, I feel sorry for my students.

Every teaching job that I have, I want to be a better teacher than I was before. I want to try new ways to get my students to learn. What can I do to help them learn better? To learn more? To learn more deeply? I find myself experimenting more with behaviorism, with activities that are disguised drill-n-kill exercises. Turn it into a game somehow. Ultimately learning a language is about communicating, but if the pieces aren’t there, ready to go, ready to be pulled up automatically, then fluency is lacking—and accuracy is compromised. Having seen now the results of fossilization at the higher levels, I want to start fighting it as much as I can at the lower levels.

The problem is that we never have enough time in the classroom. There’s always too much to cover. Two pages in 90 minutes. New information in every class. Time required to check homework. If you make the most of your time, you can perhaps do 15 – 20 minutes of review. Cut out some of the material in the book. But what? Say you have a listening text. You absolutely need to do some pre-reading, activate schema. Then, the listening. 2 times, right? Then responding to the pre-listening activity in some way. Then checking for deeper comprehension of the text. Dealing with questions about content, vocabulary, structures. Some expansion activity, something that has the students respond to the text in some way. Set up the homework. You’re already over time, so you can forget about the other review activity you were hoping to get to, something to close the class. A couple of minutes to review what you did


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