Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Course books, are they really helpful?

I am already in vacation, and you might be saying, I am already resting... well, actually the answer is no. I have been doing personal tasks, and of course, preparing already the material for next school year.
I was reading the new plans, and I was checking the course books through internet. And then I thought how much important a book can be for my work.
I have seen both sides: teachers using the course books step by step, without omitting any activity, and teachers not even taking into account this element. I must say I am both sides.
How is that possible? I will tell you why.
Using course books as a guide to follow step by step is a total mistake. Even though they are very well made, and they have clear goals with interesting and engaging activities, it is just a book for one year only. It means that you need to have a whole collection of books to have a real course. And at least in my country, every level has a different book, from a different publisher makes the work hard for a teacher. At the same time, I must consider the program of the ministery of education, because their objectives, activities, lesson plans, actually the whole plan can be different from the books I am going to use. In order words, the book says that in the first semester, in the first unit I must teach "The verb to Be", while the program of the government is telling me to teach the "future tense".
In addition, I must consider my reality.  The course book can have an example on how to use an iphone, but what happen if my students have never watched that kind of cellphone? The it means the course book is not a good tool for me.
In other hand, avoiding the use of this tool is really pointless. First, because if we want a better education, then we must use every possible tool to work with the students. And it is a big investment, a lot of money to help the education.
But let's be true, using the course book everyday is really boring. I won't use it everyday. But if I compare the books I used in primary school with the books of today, wow... now they are so much interesting, and for students that is something to think about.

In summary, a tool will always be a good tool, but a hammer just can nail, and nothing more. So you need a complete set of tools to do a good work. So think the course book as just one tool, but remember you need more.

Monday, 23 January 2012

What students (might) think about living

Well, another week just went fast already, and me, I have just finished my intensive course of ALTE 3, and yes... I feel tired, it was really intensive. But you know what? It was great, our teacher was really a nice person, and he really knows a lot. With a teacher like that, of course I feel inspired to know more and more, and be like him. But the question is this... if I become so great like my teacher, will my students feel inspired to learn more and more too??? Good question.
But more that just learning, which I got some ideas that I expressed in my last post. Now I felt I have to share my opinion with you about a different topic: Life.
Being a student again made me think about my students, and I got some ideas in relation with life.
Students might think the following points about life:
  • Students are not simple people, they mean a lot and for that reason, every student is really so much important for this life.
  • Students can make a great difference, and they can make this world better.
  • Students are not empty glasses, they already have a lot inside to share, to give.
  • Students are full of questions, full of ideas, full of hopes, full of fears. What are we doing to help them?
  • For students, studying is just another "activity" in their lives. Therefore, it is not that important.
  • Students think that by studying they can get a better future, but meanwhile, their present is full of problems. So, how can they be interested in studying, now??
  • Students feel hungry now, they don't want to wait years to feel they are full.
  • Students think rules are silly, pointless. Because they know that every person is free to decide what to do in his life.
  • Students don't want to waste time memorizing contents, when actually, what they really need is to do "actions".
  • Students really need love and feel that are appreciated. Remember that love is the only way to live a meaningful life.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

What students (might) think about studying

I have been so busy during these days. While most of the teachers are already in vacation, I am still busy. But this time, studying. I went back to school as old times. I am studying as a requirement of the Ministery of Education in order to improve and certify my level of English with ALTE3.
Of course, it is a good chance I can improve myself. But being a student reminded me what it was being a student.
Then I can deduce some ideas:

  • Students are eager to learn, just if it is something interesting, amazing, new or relevant for themselves.
  • Students can concentrate if what they are doing it is not that complex neither so easy.
  • Students can concentrate, but for some few minutes only.
  • Students get new information, but at the same time, they are creating new information in their minds (that is why they tend to fly away with their imagination)
  • Students want organized classes, with a serious work. But at the same time, they want to feel they are in a comfortable place.
  • Students want organization, but they want amazing things to happen. Like, they expect to have a schedule, but then suddenly, there is something unexpected.
  • Students want to learn, but they feel that they don't need to learn all. They need time to assimilate and at their own time to create their own knowledge.
  • Students like new things, but it doesn't mean that every new thing will be interesting for them.
  • Students enjoy just a normal conversation, not the patterned sentences used to learn a language.
I hope to continue learning more and more and sharing with you every new idea.

Monday, 9 January 2012

New year resolution (for teachers)

I have watched videos on youtube about New year's resolutions. I thought, then what about teachers? and I came up with the following ideas based on some videos.

  • This is not a new book in our life, it is just another chapter. So, let's not think about this year as a whole new year. It is just another year.
  • Choose something realistic to improve. Let's not imagine impossible dreams
  • Write down what you expect for the year, so at the end of it, you will evaluate what you have or haven't done.
  • Also, evaluate your progress, don't wait until the end of the year to know the results. The more you evaluate your assesments, the more you willl be able to get them.
  • Don't expect to get all at once. This is a progress and it will take time (One year!!), so don't be in a hurry.
  • Ask for help. We are teachers, but we don't know everything. We can learn from other teachers, and we can rely on them. Let's not be shy.
  • Be positive. Even if it seems hard, don't give up. Your students deserve it.
  • If you have two good resolutions, maybe you can think of one or two more. You can do it. But don't think about 50 or 60.
  • Every time you achieve something, then be thankfull and happy. You did it. Now, you are capable of more.
I hope you have luck for this new year.
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