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Getting there


Thursday, December 16, 2004

walked into class armed with the test, ten mins on five gap-fill sentences with the most frequent collocations from the Economist, with dictionaries and open book, then ten minutes with no support on fifteen translation and acronym questions...I had students move apart so as not to crib, and people who came in late were given their paper. One student came in with two minutes to spare,, handed me a train slip saying the train was late, but with no time, so as I called in the other papers I asked how many minutes it was delayed, in order to credit them with the time...about twenty minutes, they said, so I had them do the test, but I checked the train line...later at the train station I heard it was three minutes late...in other words, other late students had less time to do the test because they were late, but because this person lied to me they had the full benefit of the time. Now I am upset...Have to get back to them after Christmas, dishonesty really bugs me.

Anyway I paced round the room during the test, peeping at papers, and then in the ensuing subdued silence, asked the team to begin their presentation...asking for volunteer markers as they set up...one late student came in and apologized, they were sick , so we discussed whether they felt ok to do the test, so they did it quietly at the front while others were watching the presentation.....the presentation was pretty dire, without even a decent intro, the second speaker not referring to the handout to help listeners, and not noticing the complete lack of attention in the class, and then every speaker was soooo separate it was painful....wellll and then I was back on stage, a bit sort of flummoxed by the choppiness of the atmosphere, and trying to link into a review of what we were doing so far, using the format of the ending/presentation summary template which is the last piece of language input I want to feed them for this term.

Having summarized what we were doing so far, in terms of financial and environmental economics, followed by presentation management techniques of clear structure, use of all team voices, emphasis, guagiing audience reaction, Q&A, using visuals, and then finally people skills, working in a team, finding things in common with colleagues and praising good things about people you work with....(jumping around a lot here doing a last replay of acting out techniques, building up to a shout and then saying so you all find that distressing so i adapt, and so on to illustrate each point as i spoke) . Finally this is the last thing I want to teach you, I said, you have the intro skills, and .....stopping in mid gasp as instead of just moving on to ending skills
I remembered how awful the presentation had been and thought i'd do revision first....so switched into IRF mode, what was wrong with today's intro????

One student offered "the main points were missing"...exactly, but then there was silence, so i switched again to well, what points were good/there today? and calling names to get some response...yes, the Good Morning was good, and the intro of the presenters, but the preview of the structure of the presentation was missing, and also a preview of the main aim of the presentation....and by the way today's guest listening was Dr. Karen Garcia and I was telling her how you are my best students,...(wonderful, they all clapped to welcome her) sigh, so anyway and now here's a template for the ending....which I read out, using the example of talking to Bush about Iraq and underlining in pink highlight as I read for everyone, so that they could see and follow the new language, which I had modelled in my own course summary. And then finally it was their turn to take over, let's have a break and find your new groups, and you are going to talk to Bush, Koizumi, Kofi Anan, or any other figure you can think of, please negotiate with me.....

During the break one of the students approached me with the need to write a resume in English, and I referred her to Karen while i dashed to the loo, and poured soap all over my forehead as i leaned into the tap to slurp the water and hit the soap knob in the process....cooool down, I thought, as I washed it off. As students grouped up, I moved round checking they understood the idea of the presentation as a make a suggestion, demonstrate the why of it, offer an alternative if you don't do it this will happen scenario, and finish off by repeating the main suggestion sort of structure, learned that one group wanted Kim Jon of North Korea, great idea, what a miracle if we could have him to talk to in person, and then focused on finding a home for the absent students,, of whom there were more than I would have wished for. Missing this test bites into their grades!!!! Which is the way I set it up, but they don't seem to really realize that. Or perhaps they do, the awful silence after the test!....I just add it all up, the data I have, and then get a total. By the end I had a home for all my absentees and a list of groups and their audience personage, so busy collecting it that I only remembered to wish a merry christmas to a handful, and then as usual the time was over, the whirlwind leaving me in a pool of group papers and tests to mark! So I need to get the resume student an email with a good site to teach them how to write a resume, also offered to edit once they had written some, so nice to have Karen to wander with out afterwards chatting, good day's work.