Today saved me from the slow unproductive procrastination *bog* bordering burn-out which I”ve been recently experiencing in the downtime after winter holidays, with tiny bits of teaching, huge amounts of time spent asleep, all in all, being totally not the best of me)
Finally, here they come, helping hands to drag me out.
Three groups of first year students to teach this term, one of these I worked with last term.
I’m very well aware of course of the importance of the very first teacher-group meeting – producing impressions, setting the rules, meaningful ice-breakers, sparking interests, establishing firm/friendly teacher “status”. I’ve been giving first classes quite a lot of times already, yet each time I get nervous. When I get nervous I talk a lot=)
I don’t think (at least I don’t feel) today’s first lessons were particularly successful. Maybe they were, from students’ viewpoint (looked like they enjoyed), but I keep getting this feeling I could’ve done way better! and I”m normally no perfectionist…What was it? The worst thing about first lessons is that they’ll never repeat. What’s done is done.
What was done?
The activities that I can positively relate to:
* Describing groupmates (for the sake of introduction AND most importantly for me to remember them, on a more personal level than register’s name-surname style supposes)
Aim – to introduce a student to me, giving some special kind of information about him/her, something I could associate this person with and thus remember. Sitting in a circle facing each other (got to be this way only with one group because of unfortunate desks arrangement in a tiny room for the rest), the first student gives a description of the person sitting next but one. Continue this way until a certain point (basically when I get bored and feel we need a change). Then the system changes – now the task remains the same, but the form – now every student in the circle has to express one idea about the student of attention, points cannot repeat one another, ofc. I admit: it becomes much more difficult for a teacher to process and digest the info, BUT the winning side of it is that it gets really active. Everybody’s attentive, involved, corrects others’ points, supplies extra info or own examples of situations to illustrate the stated qualities, for example. This way a simple get-to-know-me activity has become (in my experience at least) a great collaboration story.
In the end I tried (and managed to) remember all names&connections (with their help and hints). I”ve got FULL picture of the class atmosphere, of relationships as well.
Problem faced – in one of the groups the activity lasted for..an hour I guess..?! Because it was a most heated discussion. Level of the group appeared to be high and enthusiasm didn’t have to be fuelled by anything more than my comments on their stories.
I’ve got the key – genuine interest of a teacher, as simple as that! Feedback, support. Sense of humour=)
We’ve come up with several vocabulary items as well during the activity – CRUCIAL, ASPIRE, DAYDREAMING, FAITHFUL and some others. All of these emergent language, as you may guess. Crucial turned out to become everybody’s favourite, it was many times suitably used in descriptions and comments.
* A personal star.
This one I should give credit for to Ania Musielak, whose wonderful workshop I attended during TESOL France in Paris last November and went out of it with 3 pages of ideas to try out (which I did))
One piece of info for each point of a star refers in this or that way to you. Work in groups (3-4), ask questions to find out connections. That worked well, we had some very creative and totally unguessable points (like 133 for Pentium133, the first computer of a st., and more amazing ones))
Speaking, interactivity, question forms practiced and peer-corrected.
Why do I feel a tiny bit frustrated? I sense I could pepper the lessons with more diversity, maybe more challenge.
Anyway those were the first lessons, and I’m planning lots and lots and LOADS more to do.
Online part of the course will include work in our group in vkontakte.ru (Russian Facebook), Moscow-Grenoble wiki, msuenglish.posterous.com for showcase. And Google Docs probably.
I hope for no indifference from their part.