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.
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.