Have you ever heard that the best way to learn your own language is to teach it to someone else? Well, I can concur. After a seven-year hiatus from teaching, I am back in the classroom.
I have two great classes that I’d like to tell you about. My first class is an intermediate group of nine women about the average age of 70. They’ve been taking the same language class with the same teacher for thirty years.
The second is a beginner class of mixed nationalities with little English proficiency that during the first two lessons, I taught them the ABC song! They have, however, progressed quickly.
I was a bit nervous about making lesson plans and wondering how I was going to keep the classes interesting.
Since becoming a professionally CTI-trained life coach, I have become a more teaching introspective. I like to go past the grammar rules and into the hearts and souls of the students. Some of the conversation topics are geared at finding out what fulfills the students.
It’s more challenging with my beginners due to lack of basic sentence structure and vocabulary. I like to inquire about their lives and cultural backgrounds to bond us as a group.
In regard to the ladies who’ve had the same teacher for 30 years, I was warned that they were relunctant to continue with a new one. On the first day, they eyed me suspiciously, voicing clear dismay of having to change teachers.
Fair enough. I asked only if they would stay for one lesson and then make a final decision.
After general introductions, I asked them to tell me about their dream for their lives. They slightly tilted their heads to the ceiling in deep thought, while ponding what is next for them in the years they have left.
Not surprisingly, the main goal for all of them was to remain healthy enough to continue traveling and spending quality time with their families. We talked about their interests and goals for learning English.
To be sure, my goal was to understand how I could best serve them.
What I discovered thus far is that I am there to facilitate their learning, bringing it to a new dimension. I can challenge them to think beyond the general conversation and into the realm of what makes life interesting and worth living.
I am not the head of the classroom but a part of the group, supporting their language needs.
Today we talked briefly about near death experiences, a subject I’ve read a great deal about. I was able to share stories I’ve read from various authors on the topic and even recommend a few books. Since this group is in their senior years, this conversation had substance and meaning for them.
I challenged my students with the task of writing a gratitude journal for one week.
Not everyone was willing to talk openly about the deeper meaning of life. Yet, after experiencing the process of writing down the simple things in life that bring joy, they’ve come to appreciate the positive effect it has on their daily outlook.
In order for these types of conversations to have an impact, there needs to be trust between the teacher and the students. Trust is built on knowing that the teacher gives input to facilitate the learning, supports their efforts, and acknowledges that mistakes are part of the process.
Our semester is coming to an end in a few weeks. In both classes all the students have registered for the next semester. Some have recruited friends to join us.
It might sound corny, but the it's the best compliment I could’ve received.
Over To You
What do you feel about the student-teacher relationship? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment.