Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Back In The Saddle Again

by AJ

Ive gotten a part time teaching job to make ends meet.. and am enjoying being back in the classroom. Having gotten burned by being a bit too open and specific.... Ill avoid giving details about places and names when writing about this job :)

The place Im teaching is an intensive English program, which is a new setting for me. The biggest adjustment is handling the time. Im used to having students for one to two hours... once or twice a week. That sort of schedule requires a certain type of pacing. Usually I tried to go into class with maximum energy and squeeze every drop out of class.

But now I have the same students for four hours every day of the week. This calls for a somewhat slower and less manic pace. Today, for example, I realized I was yelling. Id grown used to teaching large classes at TU.... without a mic. Now Im in a small room with a very small class (5 people).... so the entire school could hear me. My students kindly let me know that I didnt need to yell for them to hear me. (Thanks).

Despite feeling a bit uncomfortable with the new format... I think I will prefer it to past schedules. This sort of schedule plays to my strengths. I am able to get to know my students very well... because I have tiny classes and lots of time with them... I can learn their individual needs and strengths and co-develop an individual learning plan with each.

Also, I have the time to try a wide variety of activities. For example, I now have time to use the movie technique as it should be used. And plenty of time to utilize book & film clubs, field trips, guest speakers, workshops. In fact, the school actively encourages such activities.

Which brings me to the best part:

I have to raise my game. This school is new... its run by a very creative and enthusiastic Director who expects great things from his teachers. The other teachers are excellent. They are doing lots of interesting things... utilizing a host of authentic materials... and experimenting with their lessons. After a few conversations, I realized this was an exceptional group. These are not the boring, slave-to-the-textbook, traditional lecturers I usually work with.

Which, to be honest, is both inspiring and intimidating. Its intimidating because Im no longer the most energized or restless teacher at work. These guys are good, they are creative, they are enthusiastic. No burnouts or clock punchers. Im used to getting by on raw energy and a bit of creativity... but this school will demand more.

And thats inspiring. Talking to these teachers is exciting. They make me want to do more, try more. They make me want to create phenomenal lessons. They push me to search for more interesting activities and more innovative approaches. Its the same feeling I get when I talk to Aaron or Mark in Kyoto.... like plugging into a high-power battery pack.

And thats how a school (or any organization) should be. A place where people are encouraged to build on their strengths and constantly grow.

Which, come to think of it, sums up my mission for students (build on their strengths and encourage them to constantly grow).