Today is my birthday, which is always a good day to sit down and take stock. So, I decided to return to my teaching journal, a place I haven’t been to since just before Christmas, when I was focusing on material development and motivation. Today though I was thinking how easy it is to get sidetracked into all kinds of things like institutional politics, the fact that the air conditioning is on even though it’s actually quite cold, books, gossip, the coffee machine, and just about anything… well, I want to make an effort to remember focus on what is important, and that, I think, is the people, the individuals who go to make up my classes, wherever they are. After quite a few years teaching I know how easy it is to fall into a routine, and to not be surprised by the learning focus or by the magic that can be produced in a lesson. Recently though I was adapting an “awards” lesson (suggested by the extra materials in the Macmillan Straightforward Advanced book) where learners nominate each other for awards such as “The News of the World” Student etc. We were doing this because there had recently been quite a rew Awards ceremonies like the Oscars or San Remo Italian Song festival, and this group of advanced learners had been looking at prize giving speeches. So, we organised our own ceremony, complete with awards. As I couldn’t find any Oscars, and Easter was approaching, I went for “Lindt Easter Bunnies” instead and we held the Strightforward Rabbit Awards Ceremony.
What started out as a bit of fin to round off some work we had been doing, was transformed by the students themselves and the warm, funny things they said about each other, not to mention the photos they took and which appeared on our wiki, as a result. The whole of the lesson took off into a dimension that nobody could ever have planned thanks to the interaction between those learners and the community they have built up together. If you want to see the highlights follow this link:
The insight here, then, is this: don’t lose sight of the essence, and the essence is the communication between individuals as they travel together along the road of discovery. (Oh, and the power of chocolate too. But that’s another story.