My guilty pleasures!

Do you ever actually miss your students?

I hadn’t seen my September cohort for quite a while and found myself wanting to spend the lesson time ‘catching up’ rather than spending time on the pre-set topic. They really are a super bunch and I think there are some lucky kids out there who get to have them as teachers. We did eventually get down to some ‘content’ (writing skills class) though and I had a great time watching them ‘struggle’ with the various assignments I dished out. Perhaps I should explain this more:


I guess I’m a bit of a sadist at heart.

effective way of hiding the smiles!

I love standing on the sidelines spying on and giggling at my students and trying hard to put them off. Not that I do this every lesson, but I have my moments. The reading skills class is one I thoroughly enjoy (that’ll come up again with the new cohort, so I’ll leave that confession to some later date), but with writing I also have a lot of fun. I start by showing them a photo and asking them to write a story in 3 minutes (NB they all have an MA in English so are quite capable of doing this!) whilst I wonder around with a grin on my face watching them staring at the picture in front of them wondering where the heck they should start. Then we discuss why it was nonetheless quite hard to do (no introduction, no checking possible vocab, no noticing, no clear instructions, etc .). Then I guide them via questions to a word web or list on the board of what they see, smell, hear and feel to indicate how it ‘should’ be done.


I confess to approving of old-fashioned dictations!

Another thing I do is to give them 3 (yes 3!) dictations. Number one is a running dictation (no doubt known to you all so I’ll not explain the finer details here), generally with part of a Revolting Rhyme. This is something I thoroughly enjoy – I walk around to make sure they’re dictating and not simply writing it themselves, and I can never resist talking whilst walking (to put them off and hinder memory!).


Singapore market - great smells and sounds!

Number two is a dictogloss (again, I imagine you all know the idea behind this, so won’t explain it any further) with a story (with heavy emphasis on a particular point of grammar) of my secondary school (convent boarding school on top of a hill). I find they all focus so much on the weird story that they have less of a problem with the reconstruction afterwards than if it were a less personal story. The surprise on their faces when I tell them they have to write the story I just told them is priceless!



Number three is a standard dictation (generally the last paragraph from Alan Paton’s Cry the Beloved Country) with the ensuing discussion of how terribly old-fashioned it is and yet effective (listening, spelling, grammar, punctuation) and tends to lead on to a discussion on the meaning behind the text.

Teacher = sadist?

I could go on, with more tales of my sadism, but I think I’ll stop there before I freak you out too much. Am I really the only one who enjoys this sort of exercise and the effect it has on teacher trainees/students? Do you have any guilty secrets?


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