October 31, 2014 by gemmalunn
Each week I try to read as many teaching related blog posts as possible and this is always extremely beneficial. I almost always get new ideas for classes either in terms of activities or pedagogy and I find these posts always improve my own reflections and help me question what’s going on in my classes. Last week I read three posts which were particularly pertinent to what I had experienced with my students that week.
Firstly, I read Josette LeBlanc’s post – Turning points in which she openly shares a recent significant turning point in her life, part of this includes the idea of emotional literacy. This is not a term I was familiar with so I googled it and found that it simply means ‘being able to recognise what you are feeling so that it enhances rather than interferes with thinking’ (Orbach, 2001). This is a core part of reflective practice and something that the Experiential Learning Cycle (ELC – see below) elicits when you are describing then interpreting the event. As part of my getting back into teaching (see previous post here) I’ve been using the ELC again. I realised that my initial frustrations felt towards students when they, for example, didn’t speak much during a speaking activity is actually more frustration at myself for not having set up or thought out how to execute the activity well enough. Getting to the bottom of these feelings in this way helps solve the problem much more effectively (i.e. during not after class) rather than getting more frustrated; as stated above emotional literacy ‘enhances rather than interferes with thinking’ (Orbach, 2001)
I then read The Misuse of Silence by Chia Suan Chong. This was a timely reminder of the benefits of silence in the classroom, something I have experimented with before (here) but not thought about recently and therefore not used. I particularly like the translations of what the students hear when teachers talk and tried to bear this in mind in the following classes especially with a low level class where I often feel the need to fill silence with ‘unnecessary chitchat’ or ‘running commentary’!
Finally, this extremely popular post by a high school teacher in the US reminded me of the importance of putting myself into students’ shoes, especially with regards to the lower level students. I was reminded of a Spanish class I took a few years ago which was far too advanced for me. I remembered those feelings of complete confusion, inadequacy and embarrassment and tried to keep these memories present in the subsequent classes.
In conclusion I just want to say how much I appreciate and gain from all the wonderful posts which are published each week, so thank you!
Orbach, S. (2001). Towards Emotional Literacy. London: Virgao Press Ltd.