Ever since your students have met you outside school – walking your dog in your ''lucky pants'' or shopping in a local supermarket – they know you are not a robot!
-''Look! She’s eating a chocolate bar – she is really human!'' They are shocked, you are confused. You are making a joke – they are paying you a compliment. They are amused – you are delighted. The issue is solved thanks to your positive emotional contact!
So, I assume, should we ever face the threat of robot-teachers rivalry, I guess our role will change to "emotions delivery" as the emotional sphere will always stay the prerogative of human beings. Can you imagine a robot bursting into laughter? To get well equipped against digital collegues and their super-powers, we need to apply our "secret weapon" – the ability to deal with emotions!
Letting out joy and happiness.
When we are laughing, having fun and smiling sincerely together with students, we are providing the growth of positive thinking, good mood and kindness. As a result the perception of new knowledge is growing as we reveal their creative skills. Here’s an example activity to make pronunciation drilling more fun:
- Ask the students to act out different situations with the certain plot (a quarrel, declaration of love, making order in restaurant, etc.), pronouncing the only phrase – for example, a proverb. Like There’s no such thing as a free lunch or Never look a gift horse in the mouth. Can you pronounce it like a loving mother or a dying soldier or a dissatisfied client, etc.? It would be also interesting to guess what a situation is depicted by the students. What are they doing? Who are the characters presented?
Love and compassion techniques.
Expressing a sincere interest in the students’ personalities and demonstrating attentive and respectful attitudes toward their opinions do wonders to the class work. When they feel free to share their thoughts and ideas, as well as to listen to others, they begin to feel their own value and self-confidence.
- From time to time you can make a press conference with one of the students. Let the class interview him asking different questions about his life, hobbies, interests and views. It is a pleasant opportunity to know each other a little better!
- If some of the students need an extra support you can play “A Magic Hat” game. Put a hat on the head of one student and ask everyone to say something positive about him.
- Another variant of this game is called “Compliments”. Sitting in a circle everybody should give his neighbor a compliment making eye contact with him. A person receiving a complement should reply with “Thank you, I’m glad to hear it”!
- One of the favorite games of all ages is “Most of the most” which also helps to practice superlatives! First of all each player writes down any characteristic on the sheet of paper like “the funniest”, “the most beautiful”, “the bravest”, etc. It’s important to mention only positive or humorous adjectives not to offend each other. Then one by one students take the papers from the box and choose “the most” according to the description on the paper.
Coping with negative emotions.
Help the students to look at the bright side of life! One of the effective ways to get rid of negative thoughts and feelings is not to store them inside you but to accept them, name them and let yourself feel them. The following practice will help you with this task.
- Ask your students to think about a problem that they are worrying about at the moment and formulate it in a phrase like “I am really hungry!” or “I am bothered with the noise in the street”. Then after putting it into words suggest pronouncing it in different funny voices of the cartoon characters or alike. Believe me it’s really funny to hear for example “I’m so fat!” pronounced by Mickey Mouse or Freddy Kruger! A sense of humor makes us laugh at the problem and as a result throw out the negative.
The job of human educators may change in the future -from teaching the students to treat the grammar and vocabulary correctly to teaching them to get the pleasure out of the process of learning.
I guess, there is a place for successful cooperation with robot-colleagues here. To be honest with you, I wouldn’t mind part of my routine work to be delegated to a digital assistant – always accurate, logical, fair, never sick and tired. Everything where the ''human factor'' is involved – test correction, explaining grammatical rules, announcement of test dates and assignement deadlines, cheating control etc. – can become part of their duties. Taken this way, robot teachers may be a blessing in disguise!