Feedback plays a central role in the learning process - it reminds students of their strengths and weaknesses, provides them with the motivation to improve and gives them room for reflection, right? Well, not always. It's very easy for us teachers to fall into the trap of seeing feedback as a means of isolating and highlighting students' weaknesses. Sometimes we do so because we wholeheartedly believe that by drawing students attention to areas they struggle with they can identify their mistakes more easily and therefore work towards correcting them.
In other words, I was projecting my own feelings onto my students' reality. Until the day I was told I would have to teach the class of "The Misfits".
Surprisingly, this wasn't a nickname teachers made up for this class - it was a nickname the students chose for themselves for 2 reasons: a) they saw no point in fitting in with the rest of the kids at school b) one of them actually liked the band "The Misfits". They were a group of 7 teens, 6 girls and 1 boy who had reached the B2 level by the time it was my turn to be their teacher.
Uttering this innocuous-looking sentence is all it takes to turn a class of highly active and enthusiastic students to a group of yawning, mind-wandering kids.There are very few students who get super excited when grammar-teaching time comes along and even fewer who see any reason in doing grammar at all. Grammar is often associated with lists of rules, countless abstract examples and lots of written practice. I truly believe though that there are some very easy and practical steps we can all take to make the presentation and practice of grammar more tangible and fun!
The last few days of the year are always a time for reflection and an opportunity to appreciate those moments that have helped us grow and - hopefully- become better inidividuals. For the last post of the year, I decided to look back on all those moments that have encouraged me to keep going and reminded me of the beauty of teaching. Instead of sharing the moments themselves, I would like to focus more on the lessons learned through them.
Possibly because my greatest influence as a teacher has been my mother. A teacher of Modern Greek, my mother embodies everything I admire in teachers - that is, a sense of sharing, gratitude and kindness. She has always been a true educator who sees students as individuals with unique personalities, needs and strengths. Someone who teaches beyond the classroom walls and incorporates students' reality in their teaching. I have to admit that she still influences my teaching choices and has been the main reason I've come to realize that teaching is more than a profession, that it's my call.