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Getting there


Thursday, June 24, 2004

well, a lot of my students absent today, the class is always a relatively workable size of about 25 rather than 29. Spent some time checking a student's vocab and talking about the way to memorize words. Not that Latin roots make any sense, I personally think, they have to be learned too, it just means you have a feeling you know the word better if you spend time analysing the parts..but if you don't invest the energy to learn the constituent Latin, and see that as a chore, you're no better off. I guess it comes back down to liking language and playing around with words and bits of meaning or not.

The kids enjoyed hearing about my husband's company, and the hierarchical structures there, and how we couldn't live abroad because of his being in the national news section. Then about why I didn't like interpreting, and translating, due to late night working hours, and the implications of autonomy as a teacher (responsibility to the school), but the hierarchy of various school types, the groupwork/teamwork or not, and so on. i mentioned that we may have hubs in as a guest speaker in the second term...

Today was a pairwork day, my talk set the scene for them to talk about their own expectations with regard to the workplace. I explained the first exercise, practicing the questions and suggesting some answers, a little more explicitly than on Tuesday, which made the class more teacher focused, so that some students were waiting for my ok before proceeding to the next task, even though I had suggested they finish the first side of the page by the break.

As I walked round it was clear that they hadn't skipped the talking, as quite a few of my Tuesday lot had, but were able to try asking each other about the career options they wanted and what they entailed in terms of being in a company management structure, and how far they wanted to place authority in management hands. Their efforts to speak were particularly evident as i circulated, asking again myself, to double check and support. Since the worksheet explanations are all in English I think they skip reading the task explanations, so miss the focus of the task, maybe. So a teacher prompt/explanation is helpful.

A quick centre focus again to run through the pronunciation of the new words, twice per word, and look at the answers to the definitions, and just before the break the different management terms from reading the text. So indeed a little more lockstep than Tuesday, but everyone seemed happy with that, and the worksheet itself, not being set up as workstations round the room to be navigated, is kind of lockstep, although of course students are free to skip and change the order of tasks in their pairs or small groups.

After the break they settled back into thinking about the next two exercises. I used a couple of the student's examples of howwhere they wanted to work to illustrate that they would be rivals for company funds, working in production and marketing, and that the next exercise focused on this.

The last homework was explained, (as in very vague, write up about fifty to hundred words in response to the article handed out, or describe any other company structure you are interested in) and then it was time for the test. I haven't done any rubrics for the homework, I want to see what they come up with on their own, pretty much open to any kind of take on it, as long as they are pinging ideas off what we have studied today. I guess clear rubrics are also something i have to explore more myself. Lazy....(no time....)

Why was the test so hard, queried one student...because we have spent three days studying and using the concepts, it should be a pretty solid and satisfying review, I answered, but in my mind i was thinking, well, if you had come the last day, you might find it easier. This tendency to react to student's queries in the wrong way...instead of taking it as an opening to listening: What makes you say it was hard? Or, what kind of test were you thinking of?

Writing this here is one step to getting there, to being more ready to listen and ask questions, instead of stone-walling and feeling threatened. Have to trust it will work... students and I are still stuck in authoritarian and child modes of thinking, so we replicate limited, unsatisfying patterns of communication, methinks. I want to make more use of my training in listening skills.