I made many small scale modifications in my teaching this week. Noteworthy ones include:
Speaking Test Shifts This is pretty small stuff, but I decided to use the following sequence whenever students would enter the room for the speaking test: a) give a clear cue of the questions the student would answer, such as the number of the question b) I would attempt to establish rapport, for example one student entered the room with a hand grip (of all things), I asked him how strong he was, if I couldn’t derive any small talk fodder, I would simply ask the student “Jal Jinaesseoyo?” After that I was sure to maintain eye contact, which according to research is a valuable method to get a conversation partner to continue elaborating. In the future, I hope to construct questions that students might have a more preferential bias for. During this cycle of speaking tests, I was given the questions (which were not aligned with the curriculum!)…nevertheless I’ll lobby for the freedom to design the speaking test next semester. I noticed that when students had questions which they had an “affective preference” for, such as “what would you do if tomorrow were a holiday…” or “what is the most popular computer game in Korea,” many students were able to provide more detailed answers.
Polished Planning Document I use a set format for most of my classes. I always attempt to enrich that set lesson plan as the weeks go by. I used to have the details of my set lesson plan on a simple Microsoft word doc lacking ornamentation. This week I decided to increase the font, add bullets, a border, and word art. I noticed that I frequently forget to add small details while I was working from the simple Microsoft word doc. Hopefully having a very clean and clear planning document will allow me to attend to the miscellaneous details of my lesson planning. My lesson planning has gotten increasingly byzantine these days. Completing the document at 14 font point took up four pages for a single lesson plan.
Name Lists/Folders I finally got a name list from my colleagues. I hope to use that to learn the majority of my students’ names. At my previous school I managed to learn over half of the names of the students in the school. It is definitely less than 15% at my current place of employment.
Polish on Thursday and Friday Previously I would construct my lesson plans on Monday, Tuesday, and if I was really busy, the planning period might extend into Wednesday. After that, the blissful deskwarming aspect the NEST job in South Korea was devoted to recharging and various “professional development” activities, such as writing this blog. After analyzing my time schedule, I felt I had the time and really the professional responsibility to polish or add any necessary features to my lesson plans intended for the next week during Thursday and Friday.
Thought Jogger Question I once sold knives in America for about 5 minutes (I had two appointments before I realized it costs more time and money to set up appointments with prospective customers than exists the likelihood of financial gain, i.e. a successful sale). Anyhow, during the training for that job, our manager mentioned the term thought jogger, which in that context was basically used to entice potential customers to think of all the benefits of buying the product. I took this idea and added it to my teaching. Whenever, I see students struggling to complete a warm-up or construct an outline, I provide more general suggestions to keep them on track. This is what most decent teachers do. Anyhow, at the very end of the lesson I, as many teachers, ask “what questions do you have?” This of course is frequently met with silence. Though, perhaps if students had some thought joggers, they might be able to generate some questions. Thus, in the future I will use some general key terms to ask if students have any questions about grammar, saying something in English, grades, et al.
Where’s my Personal and Professional ZPD?
This is always an important question to consider. I feel I’m nearing the point where I should be writing small articles for ELT magazines, such as The English Connection. I will be presenting in Seoul on June 15th. In the classroom, I feel I am gaining increased facility with differentiated instruction (DI). My “examples” of DI essentially consist of providing less scaffolding for higher level classes and well—throwing in the towel for the lower level classes (that means simple vocabulary based games), so I am not overloaded with lesson-planning for my main-level classes.
I am grateful for the upcoming KOTESOL National Convention. I am going in with the expectation that I will find a treasure trove of insights to enrich my teaching. I’ve rarely left a KOTESOL event disappointed. I doubt tomorrow will be an exception. My frame of mind during the conference will be my context. How can I make this information work where I work? That requires transfer. That requires diligence.
Questions Plaguing Me
I saw a great speech at Busan Toastmaster’s this week. The speaker detailed the consequences resulting from receiving a label early in life and the consequences of his father, in his words, “believing in” him. It really points to the profound power authority figures of a variety of stripes have to mold the consciousness of their subordinates. My question is how do you maintain an awareness of the profound influence you as a teacher have, but the results of which are scarcely visible? Hope to see some of my readers at NatCon.