‘I am writing this on the eve of taking on a new class, in a new school. The expectations of the student for their new teacher are uppermost in my mind and are making me nervous. Why? Clearly I am making an assumption about my importance in that classroom.
I wrote the above comment on Scott Thornbury’s blog post on Learner Centredness which got me thinking. I say I’m learner-centred but it’s not as true as I’d like it to be – I have already planned tomorrow’s lesson and it’s from my perspective. I’ve been through a few books, found some interesting activities. So what say I take on the role of classroom researcher – present those activities to the students, let them choose from among them and add others into the mix, and see what happens?
So instead, I am now thinking that a useful place to start could be to get students to discuss two sentence stems: “A Learner is…” / “A Teacher is…” By negotiating that mix alongside the material we use on day one perhaps our time together will feel more productive.
Report 1: the students responded well to being involved in the decisions for the week; they were happy to tell me their priorities. As a result we were able to do the things that were most useful for them. Although one issue is definitely that the more vocal students got their way because their voice was heard – next time I’m going to get them to write down their priorities.
But I have to admit I chickened out of the ‘learner/teacher’ sentence stem activity. Maybe next time!
Report 2: next time I took on a new class, I had them all survey the textbook and have a think about their priorities (and what wasn’t top of their list) and then write those on a post it note. They stuck them to the wall, which gave them an opportunity to read each others. I was able to quickly report back on the overall themes. Worked much better.