Part of the series: The 30 Goals Challenge, Goal 13: Give Students Reign
I will start this post by thanking my students for having inspired me to write it, and I would like especially to thank Gisela for being so generous as to share pieces of her life with us every class. One of those was this photo, and a moving retelling of her mother’s 60th birthday.
This post was also inspired by Karenne’s Dogme challenge. The quote for this week is, “Dogme is about teaching materials light.”
I have to admit that on the day in which Gisela brought this picture to the classroom, I had entered it material heavy, as I had prepared a lesson based on an article from The Guardian newspaper. However, as soon as I entered, I noticed one of my students had come carrying a burden too. Of course, as you can imagine, everybody (including me) was more interested in her burden than in mine. So I let things flow in order to see what came out of it. She opened her rucksack and a magical element came out of it:
Not only was she going to impose her own agenda in my class, but she was also going to obligue me to plug it, when the whole TEFL blogosphere is all the rage for unplugged teaching! How cheeky of her! (jajajaj) No, seriously! At that moment I realised she had been well-trained. What an honour to have a student in my class who was becoming autonomous and getting in charge of her own learning. And what’s more, without having realised it. She said, unaware of my enthusiastic thoughts, “I’ve brought the pictures of my mother’s birthday. Remember I’ve told you about it?”. Yes! Of course I remember!
She started going through the pictures and telling us about what was going on there. She even showed us a video. Everybody was looking at the screen, asking questions, happy to finally put a face to Gisela’s daughters. While we were discussing the pictures, I wrote some things on the blackboard. We revised how to make questions, I introduced them to vocabulary to talk about people’s personality, and so on and so forth. Time flew and it was almost time for ending the class. My students realised they had learnt lots of things without having noticed.
Gisella told us that her mother loves painting and that’s why the party had been thematic, art had been everywhere! The guests before leaving the party had to paint a little part in a picture that had been started by her mother’s teacher. I loved the idea. Everybody had to paint a bit as a gift to her mother, no matter how good or bad at it they were. Here you can see the final product:
And what I loved the most about it was the metaphor… everybody needed to paint for the picture to be concluded. Does it ring a bell? The teacher had started the picture, but then, everybody followed their own path. I’m very happy because this resembles what happens in my classroom. My students are the ones that come material heavy to my classes. They are the ones that are painting the picture in whatever way they like. I’m just their assistant. I’m there for whatever they need, but they are the ones who give the orders. We can all paint, and all of us should paint!
This post was originally posted in Sabrina’s blog!
Sabrina De Vita is from Buenos Aires, Argentina. She has been an English teacher for 6 years. She has studied at the teacher training college, Joaquin V Gonzalez. She’s currently working at Saint Exupery primary and secondary school, http://www.saintexupery.com.ar/ where she teaches in company and delivers some EFL online classes. In addition, she teaches online ICT courses to school teachers in Spanish, http://www.universitatis.com/. Her blog is www.sabridv.wordpress.com and her class blog is www.saintexupery5.wordpress.com. You can find her on twitter: @sabridv. She loves being in touch with other passionate teachers and learning collaboratively.