Samstag, 31. Dezember 2011

thought a week - Pre-Christmas Lessons

It started around two weeks before Christmas. You could find it through Facebook (British Council - Teaching English Page, also different Blog-Suggestions) and of course also on Twitter: there were a ton of Christmas Lesson Plans. After a while it became kind of overwhelming to read about all the cool stuff you could do before Christmas, over and over again. 
I’m not saying it’s bad to get so much input on Christmas lessons, but somehow it felt like it’s the most important thing to do the week before. It almost seemed like it's mandatory to have a Christmas lesson.
I believe there are more points to this story, and we should think about them a bit more, although I’m pretty sure most teachers are doing it like this anyway, but who knows.
On one hand, a lot of students do enjoy Christmas lessons. But I think there are a few teachers, who overdo the whole Pre-Christmas week. They decorate the classroom, play Christmas songs the whole time and always seem to mention Christmas in some way.
But there are also students in probably every class, who maybe don’t celebrate Christmas like some of us, it may depend on their religious background or it’s just not a big family tradition for them. Now what are those kids supposed to do during those special Christmas-themed lessons? It’s all about keeping the Christmas theme moderate. Nobody wants to put the kids in an uncomfortable situation.
I would make sure to talk to my colleagues before anybody starts the lesson plans for the Pre-Christmas week.
Because on the other hand, I think that too many Christmas lessons can be annoying to the kids too, so the easiest solution is to talk with each other and make sure that there are only one or two Christmas ‘specialists’ for certain classes.
This way, there’s a good chance all the important points get covered:

- do something for Christmas, because it’s fun and the kids enjoy it
- but don’t overdo it, because you can easily frustrate the kids too

- work as a team and make sure everybody is on the same page

- be tolerant and accept cultural differences

Of course it’s not a big issue, but the constant information overflow in the weeks prior to Christmas made me think about it. Turns out it’s really not that bad, you just have to make sure you think about it before you start to plan anything.

Mittwoch, 28. Dezember 2011

Do you think there is a 'perfect teacher'?

...was one of the questions I was asked during my admissions interview at the University of Education Vienna and somehow, it’s one that’s stuck in my mind ever since.
There are actually a few reasons for that. 

During the interview, I didn’t expect to get a question like that, so at first I was kind of caught of guard. I needed a little time to gather my thoughts. ‘That’s one of the more interesting questions out there’, I thought to myself. But unfortunately, after only a few sentences into explaining my thought process, the interviewing lady said, ‘it’s okay, that’s all I need’ and we moved on to the next question. Because I didn't really finish explaining myself, it kept wandering my mind ever since.
So I still think this question is kind of fascinating.
Now if there would be a perfect teacher, we could assume two things, from which none seem pleasing to me: either this perfect teacher is teaching in a perfect school, with perfect students; or this perfect teacher is teaching in a ‘regular’ school.

So if there’s a perfect teacher in a ‘regular’ school, just imagine that the lesson plans, the time-management, the exercises and the didactics would be perfect - everything would be perfect.
It’s perfectly planned, and ready to be executed perfectly! A robot-like approach, with precisely coordinated lesson plans, integrating all learning-styles, and using all didactical methods to its perfection.

But the only thing that you’d get are robots. The kids wouldn’t be trained to think on their own and figure stuff out, they’d just do whatever their perfect teacher throws at them.

Now let’s move on to the perfect teacher in the perfect school with perfect kids.

First of all, the teacher would have to put no effort in designing a lesson. The teacher would need no teacher training whatsoever (I mean, of course the perfect teacher wouldn’t need any of this) and would generally need no skills.
But let’s break it down, the kids would want to learn by themselves, they would be no disturbances in class, the kids would love to do all the exercises in the workbooks or on worksheets, they would embrace all kind of new-media-learning-approaches, they would love to do homework, and since they are perfect, the teacher wouldn't even have to correct them, because they would be mistake-free. So the only thing the teacher needs to do, is to start the lesson, and then end the lesson.

Nothing more, nothing less.
All in all, it sounds boring, and I’m sure it would be.

I wouldn't want to be a perfect teacher, and I don’t think there should be one.
I know how my personality works in a classroom, and I like the challenge of trying to find out, how the different personalities of the children work together in the classroom.
I like to work on lesson plans and get creative, while figuring out how to incorporate different things, things that work for the kids. I like to think about new-learning-technologies, and I like to know more about them - how can I use them in the classroom effectively and think about how the kids would like them. I like to think about motivation, getting the kids to be self-aware, self-conscience and to think for themselves.

We all are individuals, every child is different, and as we all know there are different learning styles. All the teachers are trying to deal with every kid individually and personally.
Isn’t that what makes teaching special and interesting.
Every school day is different, every day is a challenge.

While thinking about answering you can reflect for yourself, your teachings and education in general.

In my opinion, this is the greatest question.