The Journey is the Destination
"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." - I took this quote to heart in my final class last night. Sometimes in the English teaching field, limiting the use of the L1 (the students' first language) is one of the most difficult things to keep under control- I'd imagine most teenage L2 (second language) classrooms have this similar problem. Most of us have our systems in place, and these work some of the time. It's a difficult thing to deal with because we want our classroom to be an English environment, so when students speak their L1 most of the class, we know that it's wasting their and our time. What can we do? Punishment just often creates enemies and/or embarrasses the student, reasoning works for about five minutes, telling the benefits and consequences doesn't often register. So, what now?
Well, I tried something last night that was a bit risky, but I think it will work. It was my last class of the evening, and they use their Spanish a lot in class. Last night it was particularly intense. They're supposed to be working on the term project, and I've been giving them class time to work on it to minimize their homework because they always complain they have too much homework and exams from their school. They really do, and I do empathize with them about that, so I give my class time to work on the project.
During the class, they were talking and carrying on in Spanish, and I even saw one boy with his notebook completely closed and in his bag, then he started talking with the table next to his table. I watched all of the shenanigans going on, and I was tired of asking them to speak English and do their project. I don't like to punish for that because in my mind, punishment for speaking their language is a good way to create enemies... I don't want to create enemies in my students. So, about five minutes before the end of class, I turned around and shut down my computer, I turned and looked at the class again. They were still carrying on. I reached down and unplugged my computer, and I turned around again. They were still going at it. I then walked over and closed the window and locked it, turned around to see the class... nothing. I reached down, put my plastic bag of tupperware from my lunch in my bag, put the bag over my shoulder, took one last look at the class to see if anybody noticed anything... the volume was increasing. So I peaced out and went home. I left the classroom and the school.
The next day, I walked into my classroom and on the whiteboard, some of them drew a heart and wrote, "We love you. -The class" I'm very curious about what the next class will be like. I plan on following up with a heart-to-heart chat with them. Not so much tell them, but ask them what they think happened and let them tell me their point of view. There's a method behind my madness. I chose to do this because:
- "They may not remember what you say, they may not remember what you do, but they will never forget how you made them feel." I wanted to make an impact.
- Teaching is more than just telling students what to do. I want to let them think about it and think about how I feel when they act like that.
- This class particularly is a bunch of sweethearts. I wouldn't have done this with some other classes, but this class, I think it will work.
- I'm not insane, so I tried something new and outside the box. We'll see...