Expansion and Participation
I think in the last nineteen months I have probably written over 936 lesson plans. It’s not my position to judge them professionally, that would be my superiors, but I’m honest in my own opinion that there are probably a lot of great plans in there and some absolute stinkers too.
As a teacher you’re asked to plan twelve lessons a week, for the varying levels, and to make sure that they combine the four elements of learning. In a non-specific order they are listening, reading, writing and speaking. At York, speaking is judged to be the most important aspect and is reflected as such in the exams for each class (the oral test result is heavily weighted in favour of a student’s speaking ability – up to 60% for seniors). There are five variations of how to conduct these elements. They are individual, team, group, pairs and as a class.
Planning Ahead Makes Practice Easy
I can say in confidence that the majority of teachers with no experience will rely heavily on teams for almost all games and activities at the start. To begin with this is absolutely fine. It is more important to acclimatize yourself with the protocols and procedures, dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s. Playing a game that the children like is also quite important when you’re first starting out as you don’t want to become a dull teacher. Playing boring games or something that the pupils don’t react well to can make the classes seem drawn out and create further problems so easy to set up games such as basketball and dodgeball are instant crowd pleasers.
Mixing Together a Lesson Cake
After a while and you start to incorporate more of the learning elements in to your teaching, you start to focus on activities that cover as many of the elements of learning as possible. This can be pretty challenging, especially as the activities that do incorporate everything are probably not the most fun. Playing basketball, dodgeball, any kind of game involving bombs, toilets or thieves are also very popular, but perhaps the learning capabilities of them aren’t as high.
Balancing Business and Pleasure
It’s important to keep in mind that we are a training school and not a public school. We have to provide a service that keeps the students coming back and entertains them. The method of making learning fun encourages the students to keep learning without really being aware that they’re discussing grammar and things of that nature.
But this is where it becomes challenging, because the speaking section of the exam is the most highly prized, which means that it should also be the same in class. My favourite games at the moment aren’t really games at all but things that have the students standing, walking, being active and talking. The fun comes from the jokes that they can use with the grammar, the way that they play with the words instead of wanting to throw a ball about, not that I’ve removed this completely, but it becomes a treat instead of a staple.
The school helps too, with many of the most common problems being divided amongst us and we regularly discuss them and try and find solutions together. Hopefully with more discussion amongst ourselves we’ll also be able to develop the games we use ourselves and share any secrets that we might have.