Saturday, 29 October 2011

The verb To Be

To Be
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I don't know why the verb To Be, even though it is the most basic verb in English, is so hard to be learnt by the students. I must say that even after many years, they can't memorize this verb. Probably, it has been a problem of the teachers, me included. Because how come that something so simple, it can be so hard for the students.
And this is a major issue for the students who are learning English as a second language, because they must learn the pronouns and then this verb to say a simple sentence. Then it will be helpful to create sentences in Continuous Tense, and Passive voice.
But for some reasons, teachers are still not able to teach this in a good way (me included, again)

Just to remember:

      =   Yo
You  =   Tú (singular informal)     Usted  (singular formal)
He    =   Él
She   =   Ella
It       =  Él / Ella  (When we are not talking about a person) *
We    = Nosotros / Nosotras
You   =  Ustedes (plural)
They  =  Ellos / Ellas

* In Spanish, we don't need to use pronouns, because the verbs tell us the subject. In relation with the subject IT, in Spanish, we don't use the pronoun Él / Ella, when we are talking about anything that it is not a person.

Responsibility, can it be taught to the students?

Responsibility is just a concept that can't be taught as a subject. As values, responsibility is something you learn by watching actions in others and understanding that you have to do something, and you can't go away from it, because you know you are the only one who can do it.
Let's see how can we learn to be responsible:
  1. By punishment: I am punished for not doing something, so I learn that if I don't do what I am supposed to do I will receive something negative in exchange.
  2. By imitation: I see what other people are doing. And when I see that other people are being succesful and having all they want, then I want to copy that.
  3. By the experience: After many times of doing the right things, and getting good benefits, then I just continue being responsible and getting even better things.
  4. By inner inspiration: Something tells me that I have to be responsible and I must do things because I am here in this planet, for a reason, and that reason is to do my job.
Probably, if you are lazy, you will learn by punishment. If you are clever, you will learn by imitation. If you have lived long, then by experience. But the best way to learn how to be responsible is by inner inspiration, because it gets a different payment. Nobody told you what to do, it was you only who knew what to do, you did it. That is the moment when you feel you are growing up.
Now, the key question is... how my students can learn to be responsible?
The answer is simple, it must be secuencial, it must starts by punishment. It can sound strong, but this comes when we are so young, with the family. But when the family is not doing its part, then this step comes at the school which brings lots of problems.
Our role as teachers must be moving our students through these 4 levels, as a transition, in a way that our students don't feel that being responsible is something that is against them.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Do we really teach for the future?

There are so many times I wish to have a speech like that. Sometimes I think I am giving a speech like that. But I really don't know if it is reaching in to the core of my students' heart. I think it is "the" wish of students to chance in some way, the way the students see life.
I feel scared to see that what I am teaching it can be just mere content, empty with the time, instead of really giving an important tool that they can use in the future.
Let's face the truth, the school is a nice bubble, where students live comfortable, sometimes, even more comfortable than in their own houses. But someday, they will have to face the truth, and the truth is cruel and hard. That is why many students, who are leaving highschool, feel depressed.
For sure they need information, contents, the raw facts, but how much of that is really helpful for their lives in the future.
Some days ago, we saw the movie of Will Smith, "The Pursuit of Happyness" (yes, with letter "y"). And I got the previous video as the essence of the whole movie. The phrase is so simple, but at the same time, so powerful "You want  something, then go and get it, period".
Students tend to follow instructions, and ok, they have to. But at the same time, they need to have their own goals, their own ambitions. They need to be innovative and creative. At the school they learn rules, and the follow them, but they have to know how to adjust them, change them, create more,  ... not just breaking them. They must be able to face a hard reality that is due to come. And as teachers, what are we doing?
But I believe that this part of the job is so easy for teachers, the problem is that most of the students are not ready to face this reality, and some don't see how it can be until they are already living it.

What can we do to make them understand the importance of studying?
How can they feel how is this cruel reality, still living in the bubble?
How can they believe and trust in the teachers?

Thursday, 20 October 2011

what I need or what I want

I still wonder if what I teach is what my students really need. Because one thing is what we need, and another thing is what we want.
Most of the times, students want something totally different from what they need to know, and our role will be trying to to make them meet in the middle.
We know what the students want, but the programs of the government tells us what we have to teach, and giving too much time to work on what the students want, it will mean less time to work on what they must learn every year in every subject.
My students need to learn more about real life, what it really happens outside the bubble called school. They need to know what to do in case of any situation.
The problem is that just teaching pronouns won't help in gathering and getting certain skills.
What we have to do is the following:
1.- We need to know our subject very well,
2.- We need to know methodologies to work with the students
3.- We need to know what our students want
4.- We need to know the way our students learn better
5.- We need to encourage our students to get any goal they have
6.- We need to encourage the sense of responsibilty
7.- We need to consider all the previous points to make a deal between our responsibility as a teacher, the responsibility of the students, the subject and its relevance outside the school.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Travelling to the south. Day 3

The last day, we got up early again, we had the chance to hear speeches related with the responsibility in having pets, the properties of some trees, and how to get money without killing the trees. After lunch, we went to paint in wall with drawings about ecology.
At night students have the chance to show what they are doing in their clubs.
What I liked about this, is the way some students talked. In some way I felt proud of they way my own students could present their work to the rest of the students. And I say "in some way", because, I am not sure if I have contributed to give those tools to my students. I want to think I did it. But more than that, I felt happy that some of my students are very responsible to prepare their speech, and present it so well, that they were very professional in doing so.
I hope more students can follow their example. And at the same time, I think giving the chance to the students to participate in clubs, and then participating in different activities like this, it would be very helpful to form responsibility, strength to know that they can do anything they want without being shy or nervous to talk to more people.
It is funny, but I am still a nervous person, even being a teacher, but when I have to do something, then I do it.
Give your students the chance to talk in front of more people, and they will feel they can do even greater things.

Travelling to the south. Day 2

After having some problems in finding the place we were supposed to stay the previous night (a boarding school), the second day was great. We got up very early in the morning, and we took breakfast just to go to the opening ceremony in the center of the city of Cañete. We had the pleasure to hear some interesting speeches from very important important people, all connected with ecology.
After that, we went to another place to choose which speech we wanted to hear. My students chose to hear the speech given by SAG (Agriculture and Cattle Service). We learnt some information about animals and the law to take care of those animals in extinction.
We came back to get lunch, and then we visited the Mapuche Museum Ruka Kimvn Taiñ Volil, dedicated to our native people culture. This was the most interesting for me, unfortunately, the time was so few and they were like in a hurry to tour us inside the museum, so no time to really get all you can get from this amazing place.
Students had the chance to know more about our own native culture, games and planting trees.
It is so amazing that our culture has such connection with the Earth, actually, mapuche means people of the Earth. I think it was a good lesson of the love that our native people have for the planet and all the creatures.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Travelling to the south. Day 1

Last friday, I had the chance to travel to the south of Chile, I went with a group of students to the National Gathering of Ecoclubs, in the city of Cañete.
I must say the travel was really long, and tiring, we took the first of three buses at almost 9 in the morning, and we almost reached at 9 at night. Very long. But it was worth it.
Ok, until now, There is no connection between this and my classes of English. But I was thinking that the class in not all, I mean to say, there is so much more than just a subject.
I feel that most of what we remember from the school is not the subject itself, but the experiences we got. And for sure, that when students are faced to situations in which, they must be responsible and mature, then those activities are essential to the life of a student.
We just can't think and pretend that being in a classroom is the only way to learn. There are more ways.
Give the students the chance to prove they can talk in public, and it will be the start in their lives as responsible and grown up students. Believe me.

Friday, 7 October 2011

A multi-task teacher. When just one task is not enough

Teachers have many things to do, that is for sure. And maybe that is why it is so stressing being a teacher.
But that is normal in our world of teachers. I have been busy in these days, too many things to do. I am a teacher of English, and I have to prepare material everyday and correct works and tests. I am the one helping the parents with all their doubts and problems. By now we are planning some actvities to get money and fulfill our projects for this year.
Now, I will be out for some days, I will be travelling to the south with some students, because they will gather in a national meeting for ecoclubs. So I will be posting my experience on that.
Is it tiring to be a multi-task teacher? Yes it is, but it is so worth it, that you enjoy every minute you are working for it. Yes it is tiring, but once you start doing many things, you feel strange if you don't do them. You get used to be a multi-task teacher.
The key is scheduling your time, don't worry too much about things, and you wont get stressed.

But by now, I will know a new city in the south. Learning what other students do within the country, about the environment and nature.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

No more violence, no more bullying

No more, really NO MORE! No more violence, no more bullying. Where are the values? where is the love? where is the respect? Is it really the family so absent on this matter?
It is just. I was raised with values, respecting the rest of the people. But nowadays, all those values are getting lost. I feel afraid that the families are not taking account on this matter.
But how can we teach values, if values can't be taught? How can we deal with violence, if violence tends to generate more violence?
The circle must be broken, and we can't accept more threats or violence in the class. Everyone has the right to work and study in a comfortable, nice and secure environment. And as teachers we must help to grant and mantain that environment.
Let's say no more to the violence in the classroom, no more violence outside the classroom, no more violence in our lives, and let's promote love, values, respect and solidarity.
Remember, no more violence, but more respect and love.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

why to continue studies to get perfection

I have been very busy in these days, and it is because, apart from preparing the material for my classes, I am already taking courses.
I already shared with you my course about videogames and education that I took last year. And the last semester, I took another e-learning course about research skills in relation with ICTs. Well, now I am taking another e-learning course called multimedia, and until now, we are just starting, but I have already learnt some terms and how interesting can be a page that uses hypertext, video, images and audio. And I hope to be creating material to share with you all.
In addition, I am about to start a short course in relation with the use of blogs, and soon I will start another course for teachers of English with level B2 or ALTE 3. I feel really excited to start soon these courses, because I really enjoy learning new things.
Next friday I will be travelling with a group of my students into a national gathering of ecoclubs, and of course, I will be sharing that new experience too.
I think, it is never late to study and learn something new, and it is essential in the life of a teacher to continue improving and learning, because even if we don't want, things are never the same, and we have to adjust to that.
That is why I have been a bit busy in these days. Is it too much? Well, if you like something, then you will always have a time for everything, the point is that you don't make excuses that there is no time, because it is a matter of just scheduling and time management.
You must take into account the following aspects:
  1. Learning is a life-long process.
  2. You can have a big and long experience being a teacher, but it doesn't mean that you know everything or that you have the answer to everything.
  3. Studying is not just a process that you do in a formal way. You have millions of pages on internet where you can get information to continue learning.
  4. Facts are always changing, so you must be updated.
  5. Your students are changing too, they are not the same as previous years, so their knowledge and questions are different, are you ready to answer those new doubts?
  6. Learning is one of the most amazing things we can do in our lives. Don't you enjoy so much when you discover a new fact?
  7. If you demand a lot from your students, then be prepared to be demanded a lot by them.
  8. Don't be stubborn, and get along with the modern times. Don't stay in the past.
  9. Finally, it is good to be a student again, not just to learn something new, but also, to understand what it is being a student in a modern era.
Are you studying nowadays? what are you studying? what was the course you enjoyed the most?
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