Showing posts with label rapport. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rapport. Show all posts

Friday, December 06, 2013

Seeing your Students

Can “seeing” your students influence your relationship with them and their willingness to communicate? What does this question really mean? 

Let’s examine the following situation: You have created an eminently respectable lesson plan; it includes the requisite phases for pairwork, attention to textbook activities and grammar orientation, hands-on dynamics to practice the topic of the day, periodic white-board use, and appropriate technological inclusions. Your “flight check” for that last part resembles NASA pre-lift-off procedures as you punctiliously check CD tracks, PPT slides, computer connections, volume register…..all that is essential to take your lesson safely to its destination. 

Your concentration on your multiple responsibilities occupies your thoughts almost exclusively as you enter your classroom and attend to setting up what your students will experience for the next 150 minutes. Ah, yes…the students…. a gaggle of girls and a band of boys, all dragging roller bags and the paraphernalia of study and play…. assemble in noisy desks, a crowd with a collective identity. Who among them so you see and greet? Believe it or not, this could be a moment of potential significance – the fresh encounter, the time to reconnect and begin anew. 

TopkidsErika_LAS (1)There is one of two ways to envision this scenario: (a) The teacher is absorbed in class prep, back turned, the students gathering facelessly in their predictable arrangements, or (b) the teacher greets the students as they enter, acknowledging a new hairstyle, a happy face, a new pair of bizarrely bright orange running shoes…..If it can be managed, the time for the lesson and techno-check is when the classroom is empty, silent, awaiting the next round of action. The time for precious rejoining with your students is when they enter the environment you share; that is when you “see” them and rekindle the energy that fuels what you will experience together in those minutes that you hope will be memorable, that will make your students look forward to the days and weeks to come. 

Even with all your attention to your lesson plan, first and foremost, smile and look your students in the eye. This is the moment that could determine how far and how well your lesson will actually fly.     

Katy Cox

Monday, May 13, 2013

Teachers, it's Talking Time!

Attending an international conference is such a rewarding experience. You learn so much and you exchange so much knowledge. There were many presentations I loved, but I’d like to share one that I found particularly interesting.

This presentation had a curious title: “Let the Teacher Speak!” At a time when most methodology books, teacher developers and evaluators insist on the importance of reducing TTT (Teacher Talking Time),  and of providing more and more opportunities for students to speak, this title sounded... well, peculiar.

However, there was nothing peculiar about the presentation. On the contrary, the presenter, Dr. Brian Tomlinson, a prolific writer since the 70s, had some very interesting points to make. First and foremost, he argued that the issue was not how much the teacher talks, but what he/she says, or in his own words, “it’s not the amount. It’s the quality.” He added that, perhaps, what needed to be reduced is Teacher Teaching Time, but Teacher Talking Time should actually be welcomed.

The reasons why a teacher should speak more in a class are: (1) it provides exposure to the target language; (2) it engages learners cognitively and affectively; (3) it develops a positive rapport, and (4) it provides communicative feedback. I started thinking of my own classes, and I realized that this is true. Students do engage when we tell them anecdotes. They start seeing us as human beings, and they can relate to that. It gets them thinking and isn’t it something that we often complain about; that students don’t think?...

Of course, Tomlinson doesn’t propose that we turn our classrooms into mindless chit-chat hubs. Remember he mentioned quality, not amount! He proposed some activities that include a great amount of teacher participation, such as reading a poem or a short story and engaging students in a conversation about it. It’s OK for us to talk in the classroom. We should remember that, for some students, the teacher is the only model they have to go by. The important thing is not to lose the teaching/learning perspective.