Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

My Planned Response To Student Suggestions

by AJ

My regular students, and others as well, have recently made a number of interesting suggestions (and complaints). My first response was, "Oh no, more stress and work for me". But Ive since relaxed and realized I dont need to do everything at once. This will, undoubtedly, be a several months process.

Here are my plans for addressing their complaints & suggestions:

* Lots more guest speakers. As I learn the students' passions, I plan to find people in the community who are experts on these subjects. This will take time, as Im new to the city. But I should be able to gradually build the necessary connections.

* Record conversations & interviews with friends and community members. I plan to use a videocamera to record casual conversations with my friends. Also, Ill interview some of our guest speakers (and other community members).. then use the recordings in class. In time, Id like students to take more responsibility for this... seeking out and recording conversations of interest to them.

* Community Involvement. I plan to take a lot more field trips... and to focus these trips on the students interests. Also, I plan to focus more on communicative/interactive trips... rather than just visiting museums.

My first attempt at this will be on Feb. 6th. We will visit a retirement home. A small group of my students will plan and lead an activity with the seniors at the home. We will do this twice. One group is planning to teach the seniors songs, and sing with them. The other group is planning interviews, conversations, and games.

I will document the activities with my videocamera and then use the tape to review (and teach vocab/grammar/etc. that they might not have understood).

Finally, the group will make a presentation to our class... discussing how their activity went, what they learned, and how they felt about visiting the home.

Another trip Im planning is a visit to a vet clinic. Some of my students like animals.... so I hope to have a vet (or tech) visit our school and talk to the class. We'll also read some articles about cats... and finally we will visit and tour a clinic.

* Volunteer Social Activities. Im joining a group called "Hands on Bay Area". This group organizes volunteer activities for non-profits... they help train and recruit the volunteers. After attending their orientation on Jan 31st, Ill talk to them about organizing a regular social activity for our students (and their American volunteers).

* School Newsletter. Im now responsible for our monthly school newsletter... so Im hoping to use it as a teaching tool. I plan to treat the classroom as a mini-newsroom. Students will be the reporters, Ill be the editor. We'll go through the same process used by other publications... the class will brainstorm story ideas or pitch their story ideas, each student will then choose a story, they'll research their story (including recorded interviews, notes, and pictures), they'll then present their research to the class & discuss the angle they plan to take with it (the class will give feedback and suggestions), and they'll write their first draft alone.

Then they'll meet with me (the editor) to refine, correct, and re-organize their story. Finally, the story will be published in the school's newsletter.

* Movie Technique. Of course I loved the movie suggestion. Unfortunately, I dont have a TV or DVD player in my class. But once I get a few more paychecks in my bank account, Ill go shopping at thrift stores and see what I can find. If I can find a dirt cheap TV & DVD player.... Id like to start using the movie technique 30-60 minutes each day.

* Demand More... High Expectations! I like this suggestion, of course. But it was made by the most motivated students (ones who come to the free extra classes). Unfortunately, when I presented the retirement home visit & project most of my students were not happy. They got nervous. They clearly saw it as "extra work".

This is probably my fault.... I was probably too serious about it. But Im hoping that once they go there and meet the very nice & appreciative seniors... they will have a good time and change their attitude.

Likewise, when I introduced the newsletter idea they scowled. "Too serious", they said. "Too difficult". "How will we talk to other people... they wont understand us." Again this is my fault... moving too fast, perhaps. But again, hopefully if I help them make the connections and keep a loose, fun, relaxed attitude... they'll loosen up too.