Monday, January 05, 2009

Day 69 

As soon as my last class was over, I rushed to the computer to look up the definition of ‘allow’,
because I need to do more of it in my teaching. I need to do more letting and permitting, more stepping back and watching what’s happening. Despite my best efforts, I’m still too pushy, too aggressive, too controlling – too interested in micro-guiding every aspect of the class. I noticed this today when I interrupted the ‘assistant teacher’ several times, simply in order to push my own order of business, my own personal ideas about the way things should be going. If I had paused just a few seconds and observed what the ‘TA’ was doing, I might have seen that she was moving the class along quite efficiently. I might have realized that there are more ways to accomplish the goal of my lesson than the specific steps I had in mind. I might have seen, in fact, that this 13-year-old girl, in following the lesson in her own best way, was accomplishing more than I might have. I find it interesting that the word ‘allow’ actually derives from an old Latin word which meant ‘to praise’, which suggests that by allowing this student to carry on with the duties I had assigned her, I would have been offering her praise. I would have been telling her that she was doing a fine job, and that I fully trusted her to complete the task. I might have realized, once again, that trusting students is often more productive than pushing them. Of course, I don't mean to suggest that my young students should be 'in charge' of their English education. That's my job and duty, as their professionally trained teacher. However, what I need to remember is that 'allowing' is sometimes a highly effective form of teaching. By allowing students to make some decisions and choose some directions, I can actually engage in a rare and intricate kind of teaching.  I'm a little downhearted that I didn't do more of that kind of teaching today.  

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