I hate instructing or advising people without being asked to do so. If I don’t like what I see I usually keep quiet but this time I could not.
Three weeks ago I attended a few workshops run by experienced teachers new to the art of public presentation. The content of their presentations was fine but they had some serious problems when it came to dealing with the participants. I imagine similar things happen in their classrooms so if THEY had difficulties, how about regular teachers?
Here’s an outline of the problems I’ve observed with the solution that work for me.
Problem one: Teacher asks an open-ended question to the students e.g. ‘What are the advantages of using computers in class? Students look at each other, one of them replies, the rest is quiet. Teacher asks ‘Anyone else? No one else replies. The discussion is abandoned.
Solution: Give students a few minutes to work in pairs/groups and discuss the issue you’ve chosen. Then proceed to whole class feedback.
Problem two: Teacher wants the students to wander around the classroom asking each other questions e.g as in Find Someone Who. S/he distributes the handouts but the students don’t feel like moving and continue sitting.
Solution: Stand still and make the students come to you to get the handouts.
Problem three: Teacher wants the students to work in groups and make a list of five important people from their country. After a few minutes students work in pairs and make lists of ten famous musicians.
Solution: Check your instructions by saying ‘What are you going to do now?’ It might become slightly annoying but it’s definitely worth the effort. More importantly, the students will get used to paying more careful attention to what you’re saying because they’ll remember you’ll ask for a recap.
Problem four: Teacher asks ‘Do you understand’? Students say they do. Really? How do you know that?
Solution: Ask students to repeat what they’ve heard from you to their partner or yourself and in case of any misunderstandings, allow more time for further explanations.
Problem five: Teacher wants the students to talk about the effects of global warming and gives them some questions to discuss. After some time s/he realizes the students are talking about the causes of the problem. They forgot what exactly they were supposed to talk about.
Solution: Write the subject of the discussion and possibly related questions on the board so that the students can refer to them while talking. Elicit or provide students with task language.
If you have different solutions and/or find mine inappropriate/useful, feel invited to comment :)