Thursday, November 17, 2016

Are You Doing Too Much Teaching?


You are the model provider. You have studied every aspect of your lesson; you've anticipated every doubt that might arise, every aspect that might cause curiosity or confusion. Are there points that might need additional information, areas that could require more extensive orientation? You've got it covered. 

In the classroom, you are energy exemplified. You're at the board, making lists; you're at the computer, running a succession of pertinent slides; you’re a windmill of demonstration and personal illustration. You willingly contribute to the interpretation of the listening exercise; you want to guarantee comfortable comprehension every step of the way. 

Your students are raptly attentive, obviously following those steps that have been programmed for them. They enjoy the performance that brings the lesson to life and, a real investment bonus, that lets them in on your personal life and habits. They absolutely love your (endless) English and your vivacious competence in the language which they are there to learn. 

In the process of provision and performance (enthusiastically, even lovingly offered), how much are the students participating? Do you take their single-syllable responses as sufficient indication that they fully understand the concept and content of the lesson you have designed for their benefit? Does minimal verbalization actually constitute “practice”, or “communication” when it is the hesitant result of so-called “pair work”? 

In every class, there must be a realistic measurement of the proportion of “teaching” and the actual amount of “learning” that is, in fact, taking place. If your show consists primarily of production and corresponding audience appreciation, then you need to reassess your objectives and the means you are taking to reach them. Regardless of the skill in question, learning is usually the result of doing, the frequently rehearsed mind-mapping of procedures or strategies ….. and you are the only one who can program that kind of acquisition with any assurance of a productive outcome. 

After all, would you want your heart surgeon to have acquired his knowhow by faithfully watching the medical practitioners on “House”, “E.R.”, and “Grey's Anatomy”?

Katy Cox