Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Emotions in Teaching

When I talk to another teacher, one of us is bound to ask the other: "How was your lesson today?"  When I'm asked, I usually respond that it went well, or not so well ... but what do I mean by that?
courtesy of roboM8
When I leave a lesson feeling good, what am I feeling good about?  Maybe part of it is the community experience -- that there were genuine and pleasant interactions between me and the learners (and between learners).  I also feel good when the lesson seems to have progressed smoothly ... when I was properly prepared, when earlier activities supported later activities, when the learners seemed engaged and challenged, when I could identify ways to be helpful (and knew how to help).

But sometimes I leave a lesson feeling not-so-good: I wasn't connecting with learners so well, I detected boredom, learners were confused by my instructions, the lesson plan depended heavily on something I forgot, etc. ... Since I'm a person who has (or claims to have) an unplugged attitude, you'd think I'd be willing and able to roll with whatever happens in the classroom, no?  When I walk out feeling bad, it's because I wasn't able to do that, for whatever reason.

Last week included one of those days when technology was not my friend.  I had planned to show a video via a particular app, but the library's wifi was out and my iPhone was glacially slow (curse you, Verizon!).  One learner looked at me and said, effectively, "Hey, no sweat!" and another learner loaded the app in question onto her non-Verizon phone and lent it to me. I had started off standing in front of the room struggling with electronics and feeling like a flop, but the learners brought me back into the fold of our community ... where the teacher doesn't stand at the front running the show, but we all support each other in our mutual pursuit of language learning.

To be unplugged, you have to be awake -- to see dynamic possibilities arising rather than static plans failing.  In recent times, I have been asleep more often than not.  I'm grateful to my fellow travelers, the learners who woke me up!  I'm also thankful to Josette LeBlanc, who has reminded me to stay self-compassionate regarding all that snoozing!!

PS: in catching up on other blogs, I saw Mike Corea's post pointed me to a post by Steve Brown about "preflection", a highly relevant read if you identified with anything I wrote here!

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