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Getting there


Thursday, May 27, 2004

Soooo sleepy today, marking graphs furiously in the last minutes before class...but soooo happy with the attitudes of my students, only 25 here today, and all working hard and seriously at their vocabulary, wonderful! Yes!

At 9:30 I mentioned today's article on Sony was a response to the graph about sales of DVD players ( the owner was absent..) and another graph about the sales of game consoles and software, accepted a perfect pile of homework, and was so thrilled I ran through millions, billions and trillions, even going into the realm of totally useless quadrillions and quintillions along with triplets, quadruplets and quintuplets....playing around with language...brought myself back on topic with the pairwork, which i had tweaked to be more interactive, and spent the next twenty minutes circulating and scaffolding.
After break, moving into the listening, had spoken to Mum about how to introduce it better, and she suggested i check whether they thought about the issues in Japanese at all? And they all stared at me, and sort of indicated "no", which kind of nonplussed me, so i started trying to explain a bit on the blackboard, and realized i could have jigsawed the textbook and asked each group to fill in a chart, and then share their portion of the chart with other groups, instead of doing it teacher centred at the board. Too late! Too late! But not if they hire me next year....

I had decided I was too exhausted to alter the listening slot radically, so switched to just reading the questions rather than the answers
even though i ran the first third five times, stopping with Japanese translations inbetween, the whole thing was a waste of time. What exactly had I hoped to achieve? That they hear, and understand the concepts and adapt for personal use. So instead, a gap-fill focusing on the key verbs or phrases used to introduce a particular reason for a business fluctuation would be far more useful. Wherefore art thou, all my knowledge and training, not good enough to always polish in retrospect, rewriting the coursebook, too little too late, wishing i could have been so savvy in advance. Sometimes when life is full of things, your tired brain falls back on old patterns that are not really useful: this is the origin of fossilization, i guess, and why the teaching profession changes so slowly...making changes also involves making mistakes, and so much effort, and opens you up to the admonition that you are not professional. Nunan mentions this in his article: Nunan, D. (2001) 'Action Research in Language Education' in Hall, D and Hewings, A Innovation in English Language Teaching when he talks about the problems created by action research and mentions "Fear of being revealed as an incompetent teacher" (Nunan,2001:202)

Had a great chat with Jeff in the staffroom prior to the course. He suggested I use the dictating graphs ( which i had thought of myself, patting myself on the back, oh yes) and said for homework, a checklist for the student is useful to know just how assignments are to be done. Again, of course, indeed, these will be made for the course next year, sigh, i will spend the summer making them for the second semester, at least i will have more time to prepare. This links up with the rubrics suggestions for evaluating, and is something i need to really work on. He said also, that he likes to make his own mistakes. Indeed that i am happily doing. Feel relieved that teacher-fronted is not a problem here in Japan, and that I am blessed with kind and hard-working students.