Contingency plans when under (teaching) duress

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Contingency plans when under (teaching) duress

It’s Sunday, rainy and cold, in England. I am away from my family and I am headed into week 3 of school dining hall food. Oh man! Where’s the silver lining? Let’s have a look.

I had a class this week, where the students looked comatose, or at least sedated. It was a situation that a newer teacher would find troubling.  I’ve been exposed too such an environment in summer holiday courses.  Students are just so tired from the previous day’s activities that they simply look like zombies the next morning.  I’d like to thank the activity staff for doing such a fantastic job with keeping them active and busy throughout the day so that when they arrive the next morning to class, well, the situation is pretty bleak.

I started doing a lesson on phrasal verbs, and quickly realized that my lesson had been hijacked by these zombies, aka students. When this happens on any given day/lesson this is your moment to shine.  This is where you got to go off the planned path and just blow up that lesson plan, rip it up and toss it straight into the garbage. That lesson plan, for all effective purposes has been terminated! It never existed, deleted permanently from the day. Move on and press the reset button.

Avoid traditional teaching traps

The reality is tough for some teachers but basically your students don’t want to listen to you talk (straight up babbling from a student’s perspective) and elicit anything, so as I’ve mentioned before, you got to put them in charge of their learning here.  I quickly gave out some future predictions to each student one per student to write down and then asked them to conduct a survey of the class on whether their classmates agreed/disagreed with the prediction and why. Boom, done! Results? All of a sudden, the class came alive, bloomed and students had been resuscitated, saving myself and the rest of the campus from the zombie apocalypse which was an imminent threat only ten minutes earlier. Close call there! Students, communicated in English, used a future tense and provided reasoning for their opinions, listening and writing was also included here. Clearly, these guys were working and getting the task done, they were using English and I got to hover and help with sentence errors, pronunciation and vocabulary. Boom! Mission accomplished, over and out November papa.

It’s paramount that we have these fall back ideas to help when we find ourselves in such a dangerous situation. I mean, you don’t want to get eaten by zombies do you? Well, in that case you need to be armed with a lesson strategy that will neutralize the threat effectively and consequently keep you alive and breathing.  Teachers who like talking a lot need to be arrested, if your students haven’t morphed into zombies then the teaching police need to walk in and arrest you for not shutting up. A major teacher error that is just too common.

Need lesson ideas on the fly? Check out these lesson ideas on the site for teachers

Focus on the students

For those who aren’t teachers, the advice is pertinent. Stop talking about yourself, please, it’s for your own good.  When we meet new people, and are trying to form fresh relationships and work well with others it always pays to show interest in what others have to say, be curious about your co-workers, your students, your colleagues etc.  In doing so you show people that it’s not only about you and that you have a genuine interest to get to know them.  People appreciate that, it’s not about pretending you are awesome it’s about being human and getting to know someone a little more than just skin-deep.  If that is obvious advice, I apologize, but experience tells me otherwise.  It goes without saying that you should share stories from time to time as well, it’s about the balance, that’s all.

Whether you are stuck in a room with sedated students, who are on the brink, or surrounded by peers you have to be armed and ready with contingency plans to vanquish hostile persons from bringing you down 🙂 It’s in every basic survival guide, don’t venture into the deep end without the necessary knowledge necessary to overcome these obstacles.  I am just looking out for you fellow readers and peers.  In the meantime, stay alert, focused and keep adding lessons to your arsenal, because the more mindful we are of others and our students then better human beings we become. Growth and effort, lead to progress. Remember it’s a process. What are you doing to improve today?

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